WAILUKU - Mayor Alan Arakawa signed a bill Wednesday to establish new regulations for short-term rentals.
Arakawa said the measure was "a long time in coming."
"This bill has been in the works for about 15 or 20 years now," he said, acknowledging the work council members put into crafting the legislation.
"This legislation should protect our residents from noisy rental operations while at the same time allowing legitimate rentals a way to conduct their business," the mayor said.
Although the measure went into effect Wednesday, the county Department of Planning is asking operators not to submit short-term rental applications until June 1. The delay is aimed at allowing the department to prepare for what's expected to be a flood of applications.
The measure caps short-term rentals at 100 in Kihei-Makena, 88 in West Maui, 88 in Paia-Haiku, 48 in Hana, 40 in Makawao-Pukalani-Kula and 36 in Wailuku-Kahului.
"We've all worked really hard on this bill - the Planning Department and the council - and we're happy with the final version," said Planning Director Will Spence. "The department will be ready by the end of next week to accept applications and implement the bill, and we hope to see significant compliance over the next several months."
Council Member Don Couch, chairman of the Planning Committee, said the bill is a tool to "protect the character of neighborhoods while allowing an industry that has been in the background to come out in the open and provide jobs for Maui's small businesses."
On Friday, the County Council passed the measure with a vote of 5-1, with Council Member Elle Cochran voting "no" and Council Members Joe Pontanilla, Mike Victorino and Riki Hokama absent and excused.
The legislation is aimed at finding a way to protect residential areas from disruptive guests at vacation rentals and while creating a permit process that would not be too onerous for owners of vacation rental operations.
The council's spending plan for fiscal 2013 includes funding for a couple of enforcement officials within the Department of Planning to monitor short-term rental operations.
Bill highlights include:
* A simplified application process for short-term rental operations, providing that the Planning Department director can approve applications administratively.
* A requirement that short-term rentals observe quiet hours from 9 p.m. to 8 a.m., with no amplified sound allowed beyond property boundaries.
* Having a property manager handling check-ins and checkouts living within 30 minutes of a rental's location and be able to respond to a complaint within an hour.
* A provision that a short-term rental can have no more than six bedrooms.
* A requirement that units have off-street parking for renters.
* Having a 4-foot-square sign displayed informing neighbors that a residence is an applicant for a short-term rental.
* All neighbors within 500 feet being informed that an application has been submitted for a short-term rental operation.
Enforcement against illegal short-term rentals should be easier because Planning Department inspectors will be able to use the Internet and other advertising as "prima facie," or sufficient evidence, that a short-term rental business is ongoing.
The bill will be reviewed by the Planning Department in two years to determine its effectiveness and whether changes are needed.