LIHUE — The County of Kauai said visitor accommodation providers who were faced with having to close because they lacked proper permits can continue their operations.
Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. and planning officials met Monday to review the situation.
“The mayor is concerned about the issue and asked for more information,” said Planning Director Michael Dahilig.
He said about 60 transient vacation rentals, bed-and-breakfasts and homestay businesses that recently received a cease and desist notice from the county will be allowed to maintain their operations for now.
There will be no immediate shutdowns.
“Like anything, it’s a broad issue,” Dahilig said. “We’ll take other facts into consideration and determine the best way to move forward for everybody.”
Scores of visitor accommodation providers were alarmed when they recently received cease and desist orders and told to shut their doors in 14 days or face fines of up to $10,000 a day. The order was part of a county effort to combat illegal short-term rentals.
But there was an outcry that it would cause the businesses to fail and leave visitors who had already made reservations with nowhere to go.
Some accommodation providers say the county rules are ambiguous regarding permits.
One who asked that his name not be used said they have paid taxes for years for operating a homestay business and the county never said they needed a permit.
“Our tax categories aren’t exactly aligned with our zoning categories,” Dahilig said.
It’s not that everyone is trying to operate without permits, he said.
Part of the problem is when people checked the vacation rental box on the county tax form.
When the county cross-checked, they found many, for a variety of reasons, didn’t have the proper permits or had simply checked the wrong box.
B&Bs, homestays businesses and TVRs fall under visitor accommodation providers.
B&Bs are required to have a permit from the county. There are only eight B&Bs on Kauai that have the proper permits. There are also multiple single-family vacation rentals without permits.
The county, Dahilig said, will contact owners of visitors accommodations and let them know the next step after it has completed its review.
“It’s not this massive sweep,” he said. “It’s really an effort to go after those people that had discrepancies in their tax declaration.”