Big Island vacation rentals are registered with new law

KAILUA-KONA (AP) — Vacation rental registrations have been coming in to Hawaii County faster than workers can process them as the county implements a new law.

The county Planning Department processed 226 registrations as of early last week, West Hawaii Today reported . Paper application forms were stacked in several boxes awaiting processing.

All vacation rental owners in existence as of April 1 are required to register their property by Sept. 28 and pay a $500 fee, showing that transient accommodations taxes, general excise taxes and property taxes are paid in full.

Vacation rentals are defined as dwellings rented for a period of 30 consecutive days or less and where the owner or operator does not live on the building site. The dwellings may not have more than five bedrooms for rent.

Existing rentals that aren’t in resort or commercially zoned areas must obtain a nonconforming use certificate to be grandfathered in. Of the 226 registrations processed so far, 100 required a nonconforming use permit because they’re not in permitted areas.

The Planning Department’s Kona office has received eight times as many applications as the Hilo office, said Bennett Mark, program manager in West Hawaii.

The county expects to collect about $845,000 from vacation rental registration fees and fines during the fiscal year that starts July 1. That money will be used to hire two land use plans checkers, two planning inspectors and three planners, as well as purchase software.