Last week I invited County Council Member Heather Kimball to the Economic Development Committee meeting to discuss the proposed Transient Accommodation Rental (TAR – replacing the old STVR acronym) legislation. This is an update to the original Bill 108 which only covered unhosted TARs. The aim of the bill is to provide better oversight to hosted TARs, and to eventually eliminate unhosted TARs in order to increase the inventory of housing available for residents. (Note: existing unhosted TARs with a County non-conforming use certificate will be grandfathered in and new unhosted TARs would be allowed in Vacation Nodes as discussed below.) All TARs will be required to register with the County and renew annually. There is a fee schedule for the initial registration as well as the annual renewal. There is also a hefty penalty of $10,000 for non-compliance.
There are specific requirements proposed for any TAR including
- On-site parking
- Limits on the number of guests
- Submission of site plan, floor plan, and building permit with registration
Unlike other islands, there are large areas of Hawaii Island with no hotel type accommodations. As such, the proposed legislation includes Vacation Nodes which would designate areas suitable for TARs (Puako, Volcano, etc.).
My initial reaction to hearing about the proposed legislation was negative as I feel the County is taking away property rights and creating an additional burden on people trying to make a living. Additionally, I don’t feel that reducing the number of TARs will help significantly with the lack of housing. (Several realtors attended the meeting and provided information from a recent study that shows about 1 in 5 buyers of homes on the island are not from Hawaii. They did not have any data as to how many of those from other states or countries were making the island their permanent residence.) That being said, I do not live next to any TARs, so I don’t know how big of an issue they are. Heather did acknowledge that she is also working with the Mayor to make building homes easier in order to help with the lack of housing. I hope she is successful on this end as the newer building code in conjunction with the Epic system is making houses harder to permit and more expensive to build. To me, this is the reason for the lack of housing and thus higher rents, not TARs, but I certainly don’t know everything.
For more information on the proposed TAR legislation go to www.hawaiicountytar.com. There you can read the latest draft proposal (they have already made several changes based on feedback), read a Frequently Asked Questions piece that is very helpful, and submit a question or comment. Additionally, you can register for the next TAR webinar scheduled for Friday, January 20th at 5:00pm.