HILO, Hawaii — A councilwoman has come under criticism for owning a Big Island vacation rental while at the same time trying to pass a bill that would affect the rental industry.
North Kona Councilwoman Karen Eoff has proposed changes that would require vacation rentals outside of the Vacation District, the General Commercial District or Resort Nodes to apply for a certificate in order to be grandfathered in. She said the Resort Zone — where her condo is located — is the appropriate place for the rentals.
At least one other vacation rental owner, Rob Guzman, said Eoff has a conflict of interest, West Hawaii Today reported Sunday.
Guzman accuses Eoff of writing the bill in a way that exempts her own condo from regulations.
“Barring people in other areas, especially areas with high numbers of poorer people and people of color, they will be prohibited from doing what she is doing herself,” Guzman said.
Eoff said she and co-sponsor Kona Councilman Dru Kanuha spent more than six months meeting with the community, vacation rental agents, Airbnb representatives, the Hawaii Island Board of Realtors and legislators to add to the initial bill.
“At this point, I don’t believe there is a conflict of interest, and I am excited to hear from the public about how they see Bill 108 addressing commercial use of residential housing,” Eoff said. “I intend to disclose to the County Council the fact that my husband and I own a condo.”
Eoff is the only council member who owns a short-term vacation rental, financial disclosure records show.
Eoff lists her ownership of the condo in the real estate section of the financial disclosure, but doesn’t include income received from the rental with her other sources of income as required by law for any income received of $1,000 or more.
Eoff said she didn’t need to report the income because it didn’t meet the $1,000 threshold.
Information from: West Hawaii Today, http://www.westhawaiitoday.com