B&B hearing today

LIHUE – The Kauai County Council will meet at 1:30 p.m. today to listen to comments from the public regarding possible zoning ordinance changes that deal with permits for bed-and-breakfast operations.

The county is considering two changes: the first would better define what legally constitutes a homestay (commonly referred to as a bed-and-breakfast or B&B) and the second would limit the number of B&B permit applications that could be reviewed by the Planning Commission to no more than 10 per year.

Deputy Director of Planning Kaaina Hull said the purpose behind the definition change is to ensure that an owner actually resides onsite.

“Having the owner at the site acts as a self-regulating mechanism,” Hull said, noting that renters are much less likely to create noise and parking issues that affect the neighbors when the owner is home.

Currently, a “homestay” is defined as an owner-occupied dwelling unit in which overnight accommodations are provided to transient guests for compensation, for 180 days or less, within the same dwelling unit in which the owner or lessee resides or in a guest house.

County officials have previously said the current definition is too lax, and could create a loophole through which illegal Transient Vacation Rental owners try to qualify as a B&B even if they don’t actually live on-site.

Bill 2578, which is being considered by the council, tightens that definition by adding additional criteria. If approved by the council, the new definition would require that guest accommodations must be within the same dwelling unit in which the owner resides or in a guest house, and that it must be the owner’s primary residence, and that the owner currently qualifies for a homeowner’s exemption.

Perhaps more controversial, the council will also consider a cap that would limit the number of B&B permit applications that can be reviewed to no more than 10 per year.

The county recently sent out 93 cease-and-desist letters shutting down illegal TVRs and unpermitted homestay B&B operations and it expects to send out more, meaning there are dozens of Kauai residents that could potentially be blocked from renting out rooms in their home.

Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura has previously said she believes the cap of 10 is arbitrary and she would look at another way of doing things.

Mayor Bernard Carvalho, Jr. has not yet said whether he would veto a cap, preferring to allow the process to play out so he can hear from all sides before making a decision.

Members of the public who want to weigh-in on this issue will be allowed up to two, 3-minute increments to express their opinion; written testimony may also be submitted to the council.

The meeting will take place in the council chamber on the second floor of the Historic County Building on Rice Street.

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