LIHUE — A proliferation of non-traditional guest accommodations for visitors, particularly in popular tourist areas, has prompted proposed changes in the way bed and breakfasts are regulated on Kauai.
“A major consideration of proposals such as these is protecting the character of our neighborhoods and residential areas,” said Deputy Planning Director Ka’Aina Hull.
Under revisions that will be considered during a public hearing on Wednesday, the Kauai County Council will review possible restrictions to homestay businesses (commonly known as bed and breakfasts).
If approved, the amended regulations could confine homestay businesses to within four Visitor Designated Areas along the east coast, near Princeville, Lihue and Poipu.
Since the county began monitoring homestay businesses in 1988, 21 such permits have been allowed on the island. Those numbers rose sharply last year when the county, seeking to more closely monitor homestay uses, placed a cap on such new uses. Those caps will be removed when permanent homestay regulations are adopted.
Hull said on Monday that since last year the county planning commission has approved 13 homestay businesses. During the same period, two homestay applications were denied and another five requests were withdrawn.
Designated restriction areas being considered by the county would apply only to homestays, prohibiting those businesses outside VDA boundaries. The new regulations would not apply to “transient housing” such as vacation rentals.
Councilmembers have previously voiced concern over the sharp increase in transient housing and the negative impact such businesses have had on residential neighborhoods.
Hull said county planners are also monitoring transient housing and where it should be permitted. According to Hull, there are about 450 permitted non-transient units within Kauai that exist outside VDA boundaries. It is difficult to say how many non-conforming transient units exist outside those designated areas.
“This explosion in transient living (such as Airbnbs) has began to change the character of many (residential) neighborhoods,” Hull said.
Councilmember Ross Kagawa has previously voiced concerns over regulating the popular transient units.
“Our planning department has no clue as to what’s out there right now,” Kagawa said.
A top priority, Hull adds, is retaining character of life in residential neighborhoods.
The council will meet at 8:30 a.m. in the Council Chambers of the Historic County Building.