STVR study receives support from the council

A Hawaii County Council committee has endorsed a proposal for a study on the economic impact of hotly debated changes to short-term vacation rental regulations.

For more than six months, the council has been debating a trio of bills that review where and how STVRs may operate. These bills establish several classes of STVR units, new standards of operation, registration fees, and restrictions on which structures may be operated as a rental unit.

But in light of significant opposition to the proposed changes, Puna Councilwoman Ashley Kierkiewicz — who co-introduced the bills — suggested Tuesday that the county Department of Research and Development conduct a comprehensive study of the economic and fiscal impacts of the temporary housing industry in the country . county.

“We recognize that (STVR) empowers residents to be entrepreneurs,” Kierkiewicz said, adding that the potential for the new rules to disrupt both individuals’ livelihoods and the larger county economy should be properly evaluated.

The resolution proposing the study cites a 2024 Travel Technology Association report stating that by 2023, 43.7% of Big Island visitors stayed in an STVR, generating an estimated $1.3 billion for the local economy, more than the 17.7 million USD from transient accommodation taxes, and more than USD 7.1 million in general excise revenue.

While Kierkiewicz expressed hope that the study could be completed by February 2025, Research and Development Director Doug Adams stressed that the scope of the study must be determined before work can begin.

“If we go too broad, it’s going to be very expensive,” Adams said.

The resolution recommends research and development to analyze data from third-party companies on rental availability, occupancy rates, pricing, unit market value and other metrics, as well as the direct and indirect effects of the rental industry on the island’s economy and on housing affordability. and affordable prices.

The study would also examine the possibility of converting rental properties into long-term housing.

Several landlords and operators supported the resolution on Tuesday, as many in the industry have warned that the new rules will force them to close their businesses.

“While I do not believe that regulating or restricting transit housing will provide more long-term housing, affordable housing, or accessible housing, I would still like to know the facts about this industry that tourists favor and that also provides much-needed revenue to our general economy and our state and county coffers,” wrote Hilo resident Joy Dillon.

The council’s Government Operations and External Affairs Committee voted to recommend the resolution’s passage, with only Puna Councilman Matt Kaneali’i-Kleinfelder voting against it. It will next go to the council.

Email Michael Brestovansky at [email protected].

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