Honolulu will require 90-day minimum stays for Airbnbs and short-term rentals outside resort areas in October
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Travelers heading to Hawaii and planning to stay in a vacation rental instead of a hotel should take note of a recently enacted law affecting short-term rentals throughout Oahu. The law will increase the minimum stay at non-resort-area short-term rentals from 30 to 90 days starting Oct. 23.
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Honolulu City Council approved the bill earlier this month, and Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi signed the controversial bill into law on Tuesday. The bill requires bookings for short-term rentals in residential areas to be for stays of at least 90 days. Previously, these stays were only restricted to a minimum 30-day booking.
The law will not apply to vacation rentals in designated resort areas, including Ko Olina, Turtle Bay and parts of Waikiki.
“This is about protecting our place. First and foremost, this is about getting our residential neighborhoods back. Our neighborhoods have clearly been disrupted by the thousands of vacation rentals that have operated outside of the designated resort areas,” the Honolulu mayor said in a statement on April 26. “This is a form of managing tourism, but it’s also about getting housing back on the market and protecting the natural resources on O‘ahu for decades to come.”
The newly signed law is the result of an ongoing conflict between local Hawaii residents and the state’s financial dependency on tourism, per reporting by Honolulu Civil Beat, a nonprofit news organization covering Hawaii.
“Short-term rentals are disruptive to the character and fabric of our residential neighborhoods; they are inconsistent with the land uses that are intended for our residential zoned areas and increase the price of housing for Oahu’s resident population by removing housing stock from the for-sale and long-term rental markets,” the bill reads. “The City Council finds that any economic benefits of opening up our residential areas to tourism are far outweighed by the negative impacts to our neighborhoods and local residents.”
Despite support from most council members and some residents, others, including Airbnb, criticized the bill, mostly focusing on the bill’s failure to provide exemptions for “transient occupants,” such as health care professionals, seeking temporary accommodations in the wake of natural disasters.
“Since the onset of the pandemic, health care professionals, first responders and even patients have required temporary accommodations, and have turned to our platform to help meet this need,” Toral Patel, Airbnb’s policy manager, said on April 13 in a letter to the city council shared with TPG. “Similarly, disaster relief workers and displaced residents relied on our platform for medium-term accommodations in the wake of natural disasters, including the 2018 Kilauea volcano eruption on the Big Island, during which Airbnb Hosts opened their homes free of charge for these individuals.”
Councilwoman Andria Tupola, a Republican representing District 1, also echoed Airbnb’s concerns as the only member to vote against the bill. The bill also drew opposition from the World Surf League of Hawaii, regarding concerns about the bill’s “potential to devastate professional surfing in Hawaii” if there were to be a lack of affordable short-term options for professional surfers visiting Hawaii for competitions.
“International professional surfing is the only pathway to a World Title. Without traveling surfers or workers, global surf events will not be possible on Oahu – and the road to a World Title will bypass our islands,” the group wrote in a letter addressed to the city council on April 11. “This would be an unprecedented blow to surfers, surfing and Hawaii itself.”
Featured photo of Honolulu from the Diamond Head crater on Feb. 20, 2022, by DANIEL SLIM/AFP/Getty Images.
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