LIHUE – The Kauai County Planning Commission on Tuesday approved a homestay permit application for the first time in more than a decade.
The permit will be issued to Dan and Patricia Hempey contingent on 18 conditions set by the commission. Once officially granted, it will allow the Hempeys to resume renting out up to two bedrooms of their Kapaa home that the couple has operated as a bed-and-breakfast for the past 13 years.
“I’m very pleased it got approved, even with the 18 conditions,” Dan Hempey said, noting that he didn’t object to any of the additional requirements. “It’s always been very quiet and small.”
The Hempeys voluntarily began the process of applying for a permit last fall, prior to action the county recently took to crackdown on B&B owners who were operating without a permit. Attorney Jonathan Chun, who represented the Hempeys before the commission, said their case is a good indicator of how the county will proceed as it works to process future applications.
“Homestays need to be regulated,” Chun said. “The conditions were specific to this case, but it is a good indication that they are looking at adding reasonable requirements.”
Among the 18 conditions is a requirement that the Hempeys must maintain a homestead exemption. Although this is not currently required under the existing ordinance, the County Council is considering a bill that would better define what constitutes a homestay (also known as a bed-and-breakfast) in order to ensure that permits are only granted to property owners who actually reside on site.
Commissioner Wayne Katayama expressed concern about the ability of the department to validate that the owners actually reside on site under the current law. “It’s an onerous burden on the department,” Katayama said.
Another condition attached to the permit requires the property owner to re-certify as a B&B with the planning department on an annual basis. This means the property owner must prove that they have a valid Transient Accommodation Tax and General Excise Tax license, and they must prove that the home is their primary residence by qualifying for a valid homestead exemption.
Before agreeing to approve the permit, the commission required payment of a one-time Environmental Impact Assessment fee based on the number of off-street parking stalls required, which for the Hempeys will cost $200.
The additional $200 is on top of the more than $6,000 Hempey estimates he’s already spent on legal and other fees to get the permit.
One condition set by the planning commission that stands out as very unusual for a land-use permit is a requirement to, when possible, use Kauai contractors as long as they are qualified and reasonably competitive with other contractors, and to employ residents of Kauai in temporary construction and permanent jobs.