October 30, 2017

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A message from Save Our Neighborhoods

Dear SONnies and Friends of O’ahu’s residential neighborhoods,

Please forward this important call to everyone in your email list


PLEASE SEND TESTIMONY, ATTEND AND TESTIFY at this important Council Meeting:

Wednesday, Nov 1  10:00 am  Council Chambers Honolulu Hale (these resolutions are well down the agenda, so you should be safe arriving at 1:30 which is the end of the scheduled lunch recess)

Last week, the Honolulu City Council Committee on Zoning kicked the can down the road to the full council by passing ALL FOUR STR (Short-Term Rental) resolutions to this Wednesday’s meeting.

Many of you submitted testimony and testified in-person at the Zoning Committee meeting – thanks very much.  Many of you did not.


The 9,000 + illegal STRs are not only a blight on neighborhood life, STRs are one of the major causes of high rents and homelessness for the working poor.


These bills are the showdown for our neighborhoods and housing for everyone living O’ahu.  For a quick estimate of how many short-term rentals (STR) are in your neighborhood, click airdna.com and type in your 5-digit zip code.  Then scout around other O’ahu zip codes and you will see that there are THOUSANDS more.  This site may not be 100% accurate but also does not cover all hosting platforms – many operators are not listed on the major hosting platforms and are not shown.  Remember, most of these are ILLEGAL under Honolulu zoning law and are removing much-needed rental housing from local families.


There are two forces at work here; 1) Those trying to turn our residential neighborhoods into mini-hotels.  They will be supporting 163 and 301.  They include current-illegal operators, those providing services to illegal operators or otherwise making $$ from them, and their political backers who have friends/supporters in this industry, and 2) Those of us working to preserve/return residential-zoned housing for O’ahu’s families and insisting that the City enforce the existing law forbidding short-term rentals.  We support 052 & 164.



Resolution 17-052 CD-1 (Menor – our favorite Reso)

  • Changes the basis of the existing law from “provide” (a Short-term rental) to “offer”, which will allow advertising to be used as proof.
  • Allows neighbor to go to state court to force the DPP to enforce the law against illegal vacation rentals
  • Fine proceeds to go to the DPP for enforcement
  • Makes DPP’s records on enforcement open to public scrutiny
  • Allow neighbor to directly sue the offending STR operator
  • Requires hosting platforms to report STR property information to the DPP

Resolution 17-163 (Martin – permitting – boo)

  • Adds a permitting process for new TVRs
  • No neighbor community input in permitting process
  • No specified limits on # of permits.
  • Holds owner responsible for advertising content, which cannot be enforced without major investigation effort
  • Adds Enforcement techniques untried and unlikely to work

Resolution 17-164 (Martin – enforcement only)

  • Stricter rules for advertising
  • Makes it easier for City to collect fines and liens against offenders
  • Could be a good starting point for discussion.
  • Some enforcement measures

Resolution 17-301 (Anderson – permitting – boo)

  • No community input.
  • Would turn R5 neighborhoods into resorts without proper rezoning. Would work against long-term rentals and affordable housing. Also would work against the ADU bills just passed by the city.
  • Who would enforce to ensure that the owner actually lives there and is on site full-time?
  • Forcing people to have to file police complaints means they have to take time off of work to go to court. Puts additional burden on the police and takes them away from investigating serious crime.

This is the last step in the Council.  Resolutions passed will be transmitted to the Honolulu Planning Commission and then back to the Council in bill form for final consideration and then to the mayor for signing into law.




The main problem with enforcement has been lack of political willpower on the part of administration/corporation counsel/DPP over the past 20 years of the Internet.  For example, in a recent letter from the mayor to a neighborhood board member, Caldwell writes: “As you may know, the public is currently divided on whether short term rentals in stable residential neighborhoods is a good idea.”   This is just not true.  Over the past 10 years, public opinion has swayed the Council and the Legislature in numerous showdowns that the residential public is adamantly opposed to this invasion of our residential neighborhoods, loss of housing, disruption, and the constant flow of overnight strangers.




Even if you do not sign up in advance or at the meeting, you can still testify after all the registered speakers testify.


For the past 12 years, SONHawai’i has been pushing the city to enforce the land use laws to shut down these illegal hotel operations in our residential neighborhoods.  SONHawai’i’s and the residential public’s position is reasonable and clear:




That means shutting down the thousands of currently-illegal operations and putting the horse back in front of the cart.  Two of these resolutions (052 & 164) will help make that possible.


One minute PER Agenda item – 4 min total.


Please also right now Submit the testimony form and add your own comments. This does not have to be word-for-word the same testimony that you give in person at the meeting. Remember, there are FOUR items to submit testimony, so submit the form FOUR times, once for 17-052 (SUPPORT), once for 17-163 (OPPOSE), once for 17-164 (SUPPORT and add comment to combine with 052) and lastly for 17-301 (OPPOSE).  The link to the testimony form is:  http://www.honolulu.gov/ccl-testimony-form.html which is sometimes slow to load – after you ‘submit’ for one item, hit the  <  (back button) to return to the previous page, change the reso number, fill the form again then click ‘submit’ again.


Some of last week’s testimonies submitted through the above portal did not get posted on the Council website!


So, to make sure that all nine councilmembers see your written testimony, send them all an email of your testimony by pasting all the following addresses in the “to” line of your email:

emartin@honolulu.gov; kmpine@honolulu.gov; ianderson@honolulu.gov; tozawa@honolulu.gov; akobayashi@honolulu.gov;

cafukunaga@honolulu.gov; jmanahan@honolulu.gov; belefante@honolulu.gov; rmenor@honolulu.gov

Submit right away so that councilmembers will see it in time!


Please forward this important call to everyone in your email list. Include associations, housing & homelessness advocates, social organizations and neighborhood groups – this affects us all.

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   We have prevailed each time in the past, but it takes some effort – especially YOUR effort

Please, help right now to Save O’ahu’s Neighborhoods

Larry Bartley,

Executive Director



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