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Contended Short-Term Rental Law Passed

A bill was signed into law last week that establishes new regulations for short-term rentals, also known as transient vacation rentals, in Maui County. Short-term rentals have long been contended on Molokai — with few accommodations for visitors, many homeowners rent their houses on a short-term basis, even though county law has prohibited the practice in the past.

The new law was approved by the Maui County Council and signed by Mayor Alan Arakawa last week. Homeowners will still need to submit applications for a permit to operate a short-term rental, but the law establishes ground rules designed to protect neighboring residents from noise.

Arakawa said the bill was “a long time coming,” adding that it has “been in the works for about 15 or 20 years now.”

“This legislation should protect our residents from noisy rental operations while at the same time allowing legitimate rentals a way to conduct their business,” said Arakawa.

Previously, only two Molokai homeowners successfully went through the lengthy process to obtain a conditional use permit through the Molokai Planning Commission (MoPC) to legalize their operation.

Last year, when a draft of the new bill came before the MoPC for review, commissioners voted to recommend that the County Council pass the bill with a clause excepting Molokai from the new regulations. They said the bill was in opposition with the current Molokai Community Plan, and existing infrastructure did not exist to support additional short-term rentals. Lack of enforcement on Molokai was a particular concern for commissioners.

The new law does include Molokai. And while county spokesperson Rod Antone said the budget includes funding to hire more inspectors to enforce short-term rental regulations, enforcement on Molokai will continue to be a complaint-based process, he said.

Unlike the already-legalized bed and breakfast operations, which require the owner to live on the property, short-term rentals manager are not mandated to live on-site. However, the new law does require them to live within 30 miles of the rental and respond to any complaints within one hour.

Other new regulations include quiet hours for short-term renters from 9 p.m. to 8 a.m., provision for all units to have off-street parking, a 4-foot-square sign on display to inform neighbors that a residence is a short-term rental applicant and the requirement to inform all neighbors within 500 feet that an application has been submitted for a short-term rental operation.

The county Planning Department asks the public not to submit applications for short-term rentals until after June 1, in preparation for what the department anticipates to be a flood of applications.


One Response to “Contended Short-Term Rental Law Passed”

  1. Kuki says:

    What a mess, the county hasn’t even been able to enforce the [illegal] short-term vacation rental homes in the past and now the floodgates have been opened for noise disruption and other problems. All the rules and regulations SOUND good but the huge flaw is in the inability to enforce. Do you really think with furlow Fridays and reductions in staff that the county will provide sufficient enforcement when they have failed miserably already? The county and politicians care only about revenue and have not addressed other critical components of such a reckless bill now turned law.

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