It has been nearly six months since Mayor Rick Blangiardi signed Bill 41 that was adopted by the Honolulu City Council on April 13, 2022.
The Blangiardi Administration is supposed to lay out the new Rules and Regulations from Bill 41, now known as Ordinance 22-7, on October 23, 2022.
This October 13, 2022 Preliminary Injunction, triggered by Hawaii Short-Term Legal Rentals Alliance (HSTLA) lawsuit in April 2022, forces the city to reconsider its core premises.
At the core of the lawsuit is the 30-day being lengthened to 89-day by the city to control illegal vacation rentals. Note, on the other hand, it’s a known fact that many vacation rental operators were using the 30-day “facade”. Operators were renting to different parties within the 30-day frame. An average vacation rental stay is around 8 days.
There are lots of questions and conversations to be had on this. The first three sentences of US District Judge’s Preliminary Injunction below say it all.
” Residential property owners on O‘ahu have long been able to lawfully rent their properties to tenants for a minimum of 30 days. That much is undisputed.“
But what about operators who rent to multiple parties during that 30-day duration.You can read the entire Order here.
Despite this Preliminary Injunction, there are still other rules in this new Ordinance 22-7 that the city can enforce. Residents can report violations here.
Relating to ” Request for Amendments to Chapter 21, Revised Ordinances of Honolulu (ROH), 1990 Land Use Ordinance (LUO), Relating to Use Regulations”
This Monster Bill 10 at 239 pages has been been in the working since the days of Mayor Kirk Caldwell. DPP Katia.Balassianosaid that she also responded to questions at the Honolulu City Council Hearing on September 7, 2022.
But it hasn’t been our case.
We heard about the proposed changes to the City’s LUO being alluded to at the March 17, 2021 Planning Commission Hearing, I personally emailed DPP Katia.Balassiano on March 18, 2021 and did not received any response.
March 18, 2021
Choon James <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Mar 18, 2021, 3:11 PM
Aloha Katia, I was at the Planning Commission Hearing yesterday. I heard your presentation premises about the industrial turbines distance setbacks, of which many of us don’t agree with. On a side note, you also mentioned that you were currently reviewing Oahu’s zoning designations as requested by the City Council. Could you kindly share with us that Resolution or Bill or communications to point us to the primary source. It would be very helpful to us as we’re just unpaid concerned citizens of Oahu. Mahalo! Choon James
April 22, 2021 – I emailed again but no response from Katia.Balassiano again.
Choon James <email@example.com>
Apr 22, 2021, 2:12 PM
Aloha Katia, I’m trying to trace your presentation dialogue.Did you recall saying this? Any more info will behelpful. “On a side note, you also mentioned that you were currently reviewing Oahu’s zoning designationsas requested by the City Council. Could you kindly share with us that Resolution or Bill or communications to point us to the primary source.” Mahalo, Choon James
January 21, 2022
Two concurrent DEPT. COM 74 about Request for Amendments to Chapter 21 was sent to Tommy Waters, Honolulu City Council Chair. from the Blangiardi Administration and the Planning Commission.
It stated that the Planning Commission had their public hearings on November 24, 2021 and January 18, 2022 on the subject matter. It also stated that the public hearing hearing was closed on January 18, 2022.
Our bad. The first meeting was so close to Thanksgiving. And the second meeting was right after Christmas and New Year’s Day. I don’t usually keep track of the Planning Commission Hearings. I wonder who does.
One may wonder why this Monster Bill 10 did not begin at the Honolulu City Council first where there would be more public notice.
If the Mayor’s Request starts at the Planning Commission, the approval vote from the Honolulu City Council is 5 majority votes. However, if the request begins at the Honolulu City Council, the approval majority is 6 votes.
Mayor Kirk Caldwell use this same procedure for the Vacation Rental Bills.
Further reading into the beginnings of this Monster Bill 10 shows the intent and its organized procedure inside Honolulu Hale and at DPP.
I can’t see concerned citizens being easily able to track this Omnibus Monster Bill on their own outside of Honolulu Hale and the Planning Commission without some friendly assistance. Every City Council Hearing is also usually packed with many items.
Is there a way to be more public friendly and more helpful in informing the public?
Controversial DPP Director submitted his resignation from the position as of September 6, 2022.
When Rick Blangiardi became the Mayor of Honolulu, it was no surprise to the public that many of established interest organizations in town continue to have a big presence at City Hall.
Dean Uchida was appointed his Director of Planning and Permitting. Support came from Oahu’s building, construction and development groups.
Several controversies stood out that raised significant public mistrust towards the Blangiardi Administration, Director Uchida, and DPP itself.
1.The Department of Planning and Permitting’s chronic history of corruption
DPP has elicited many names from the general public – The Department of Permitting and Permitting Department, The Department of Pay to Play, The Department of Pilau Permitting and so on.
Recently, several DPP employees were indicted for bribery. Six individuals were charged with Bribery Schemes for Official Acts at the Department of Planning and Permitting of the City and County of Honolulu:
2.HB 1434 Relating Seeking Non-Judicial Foreclosure based on DPP Fines
The Mayor’s 2022 Legislative Package of asking the State Legislature for NON-JUDICIAL FORECLOSURE based on DPP’s fines raised alarm.
This agenda to ask for “Non-Judicial Foreclosure” powers based on DPP Fines was one of the most aggressive attacks on private property rights in Hawaii. The goal ought to be helping owners correct violations, not seize private properties without Due Process.
Fortunately, the Hawaii State Legislature deferred the measure. This “Non-Judicial Foreclosure” agenda should not see the light of day again. It’s over-reaching. It opens up to too much subjectivity and corruption as well as possibilities of abuse of powers. This attempt would turn the Aloha State into a Police State. Instead of helping property owners to address violations, the county wants to use the big stick of government to suppress private property rights without Due Process.
Every Property Owner automatically becomes a sitting duck. Based on DPP’s record and history, it opens up more room for mischief or even political retaliation. DPP had been known for such.
3.City Council Bill 41to address illegal vacation rentals
Illegal Short-term rentals have been a controversy for decades. The number has accelerated from about 800 legal properties with non-conforming use certificates to about 10,000.00 and more operations throughout Oahu.
In the process of this legislative process, DPP Director Uchida had been accused of having conflict of interests:
“Uchida’s wife, Joy Uchida, is an executive with Aqua-Aston Hospitality, which owns over a dozen condo-hotel properties in Waikiki and stood to benefit from the legislation’s passage. Asked about ethics concerns regarding his wife last year, Uchida said he didn’t view the situation as a conflict of interest.
The Honolulu Ethics Commission received at least one complaint about the matter late last year. It investigated and shared its findings with the complainant in a letter on March 30, according to a copy obtained by Civil Beat in which the complainant’s name is redacted.”
Unhappy owners and operators also filed a lawsuit against the City and County of Honolulu.
The Federal lawsuit against the City and County of Honolulu, Department of Planning and Permitting, and Director Dean Uchida alleges the following:
This huge bill that is made up of many parts and areas with about 200 pages -Addressing the regulation of uses throughout Chapter 21, Revised Ordinances of Honolulu 1990 (“Land Use Ordinance” . (Deadline: 10/29/22).
While the DPP Department may be working to amend this Land Use Ordinance (LUO) along with other insiders, the general public at large is not familiar with the many proposed changes involved. Bill 10 is confusing and demands detailed reading and digesting. The changes range from Agricultural land use to Commercial use ordinances to setbacks for industrial turbines to neighborhood B1 and B2 Zoning applications to designations of vacation rental areas in Kapolei to getting rid of “preservation” zones and so on.
Bill 10 was heard at the City Council Public Hearing on September 7, 2022. A public member is only allowed 3 minutes to testify about this omnibus bill. The Uchida Resignation Press Release from the Office of the Mayor’s was announced by the media around noon, before the Bill 10 decision-making hearing.
It’s fervently hoped that the Mayor will make sure that the culture of Aloha not be usurped by turning it into a Police State with hasty wielding the big stick of government through big fines and imposing non-judicial seizure of private properties.
Aloha does not mean the lack of efficiency and effectiveness in city management. Aloha means that Honolulu Hale will consistently serve the people of Honolulu in a helpful, fair and equitable ways across the board.