While TurnoverBnB is a global platform helping hosts on over 50 countries and in every US state, we are based in Honolulu, HI and we care deeply about our own community. Today we went before the planning committee to register our opposition to bill 89 and 85 that would wipe out all entire-home listings outside Waikiki and only allow a handful of “Hosted” listings in each neighborhood.

What’s in the bill?

You can read the whole bill here 031819 Commmittee on Planning Special Meeting Agenda

The highlights:

  1. Only hosted listings, no second homes or investment properties. This mean the owner need to be living in the property to list parts of it.
  2. Of those hosted listing, their number can not be over 1% of the housing stock, this is really low considering that some communities that are de facto resort areas, like the north shore, have a heavy concentration of vacation rentals hosted or otherwise. This also means that those hosts who want to continue sharing their home will have to compete in an arbitrary process to obtain a ‘golden ticket’ that would allow them to host. With a low cap on the number units many will be left out.
  3. The county can levy draconian fines simply for displaying a listing on airbnb or other sites. These fines can reach $100,000 PER DAY and result in seizure of property is some of the bill versions. This is absolutely insane and probably not constitutional, this means the city will be able to seize your property with just a screenshot with no due process.

Why is this bill so bad?

  1. It will reduce the number of vacation rentals dramatically. Since hotels in Hawaii are at full capacity this absolutely means fewer visitors spending less money on everything from shave-ice to luau tickets. Those who own businesses know that the difference between profit and loss depends on a few percentage in the bottom line, is some areas like the windward side and the north shore this means many will go out of business.
  2. Jobs, Jobs , Jobs. According to a high quality study, more than 7,000 jobs are directly supported by the the almost $1.2 Billion generated by Airbnb/HomeAway guests visiting Oahu. If vacation rentals were one employer it would be the second largest employer in the state after the department of education and before Queens medical center. The city is essentially proposing to eliminate 7,000 jobs.
  3. It won’t do any good while devastating the economy. One of the reasons cited by the bill proponents is the high cost of rent on the island. Rents will not go down due to this ban, the most likely result is that luxury beach homes will sit empty. Most are not suitable or desirable for long terms tenants. Similar bans in San Francisco and New York City have done nothing to the cost of rent.

Who is promoting this ban?

There were Three categories of people pushing the ban in the council meeting.

  1. The powerful hotel lobby represented by posh lawyers – with vacation rentals out of the picture hotels would be able to raise prices by a few percentage points that would flow directly to the bottom line.
  2. Hotel worker’s union – Arguing that vacation rentals hurt their job (exactly how? hotels are at full capacity and charging higher prices than ever). The real reason is probably the assumption that hotels increase in profitability would trickle down to them in the form of a tiny raise.
  3. A handful of angry neighbors –  With Thousands of rentals on the Island there are going to be some instances of less then perfect behavior by guests, some local residents even shared horror stories of how someone once knocked on their door by accident trying to find another house.

What can you do to stop this terrible bill?

Call or email (calling is more effective but email works too) the following council members, make sure to be polite and respectful.

Ikaika Anderson 808.768.5003 ianderson@honolulu.gov

Ron Menor 808.768.5009 rmenor@honolulu.gov

Heidi Tsuneyoshi 808.768.5002 htsuneyoshi@honolulu.gov

Michael Formby 808.768.5004 mformby@honolulu.gov