Council poised to pass vacation rentals ordinance

The County Council entered chambers yesterday, at the Historic County Building with full intentions of passing an unprecedented ordinance that strives to restore the balance between primary residences and single-family transient vacation rentals on Kaua‘i.

Passionate pleas for strict regulation and simmering debate over legal opinions ensued as the morning session stretched into the evening hours.

Councilmembers were still hashing out last-minute amendments at press time. Look to a future edition of The Garden Island for more information on how the final version fared.

The county first identified the need to address the proliferation of vacation rentals in 2000, but inaction allowed the problem to plague local communities until now, officials said.

“I’m not going to wait another eight years,” Councilman Jay Furfaro said. “We need something in place. We need it now … a half a loaf of bread is better than nothing.”

Supporters yesterday pointed at how the bill in its current form would stop the proliferation of new vacation rentals outside designated visitor destination areas while putting in place a tool to temporarily suspend enforcement of non-conforming uses.

Opponents argued that the legislation misses its mark without an amortization or phasing out provision and should not allow illegal operations to persist in residential and agricultural districts.

The current designated visitor destination areas are Kapa‘a, Princeville and Po‘ipu.

A controversial amendment to phase out single-family transient vacation rentals over 18 months was defeated after hours of discussion.

Councilmembers Furfaro, Tim Bynum, Ron Kouchi and JoAnn Yukimura voted against Councilwoman Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho’s proposed provision.

The decision prompted some community members, such as North Shore resident Caren Diamond, to back off their support of the bill.

“You can get our neighborhoods back to us,” she said.

But without the amortization provision, she said, the county is legalizing something that is not legal now.

Yukimura, who introduced the bill Dec. 13, 2006, said enforcement would only be suspended until prime agricultural lands are identified — a state-mandated study that could show certain cases where units would be eligible for “grandfathering” under this ordinance.

The issue has elicited impassioned pleas from stakeholders, urging the county on one side to bring their neighborhoods back and on another side to not commit economic suicide.

Real estate agents and those locally employed in this burgeoning industry have testified in favor of allowing existing operations to continue, even through a county permitting process.

• Nathan Eagle, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 224) or


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