Hawaii planning department flooded with rental applications

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii — The Hawaii County Planning Department has received a significantly higher number of applications for short-term vacation rentals following updates to the rental ordinance, officials said.

The department which typically processes about 800 applications annually is working to process almost 4,000 filings, West Hawaii Today reported Sunday.

“We’re working diligently to process them,” said Douglas Le, a planning department administrative services officer. “It’s definitely been a crush for the department.”

The county law that went into effect in April prohibits short-term vacation rentals outside of resort zones after the Sept. 30 deadline. Short-term vacation rentals are defined as properties with less than five bedrooms where the owner does not live that are rented for less than 30 days.

Fewer than 300 applications have been closed, with only 66 denied and a small number withdrawn by applicants, while 1,150 of the applications seek exemptions for nonconforming zoning, the planning department said.

The “vast majority” of the applications are being processed and are under review, Le said.

Applicants are required to submit various documents including approved building, plumbing and electrical permits, building diagrams and proof of payment of property, transient accommodations and general excise taxes, officials said.

Applications also require a nonrefundable $500 application fee that must be renewed each year for an additional $250.

The County Council Planning Committee is scheduled to hold a briefing on the process Tuesday, officials said.

“It’s no easy task the planning department has on its hands, so I’m hoping for dialogue around what their challenges are, to hear what the community’s experiences have been, and to use the collective conversation to drive next steps,” Councilwoman Ashley Kierkiewicz said.


Information from: West Hawaii Today,

The Associated Press