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Short-term rentals ban is a dodge from real cause of housing shortage

Photo by Charley Myers

By Keli’i Akina

I hate to be the bearer of unhealthy information, however banning short-term trip leases just isn’t going to decrease Oahu housing costs.

On Wednesday, the Honolulu City Council handed Bill 41 by a vote of 8 to 1. The invoice would permit short-term leases solely in sure resort areas and require that leases in residential areas be for at the very least 90 days. 

The invoice claims that, “Short-term rentals are disruptive to the character and fabric of our residential neighborhoods” and that they “increase the price of housing for Oahu’s resident population by removing housing stock from the for-sale and long-term rental markets.”

The invoice’s goal, due to this fact, is to “better protect the City’s residential neighborhoods and housing stock.”

Those are admirable objectives, however as I’ve stated many instances, good intentions don’t essentially make good coverage.

To the purpose about short-term leases being “disruptive,” it is a reference to points equivalent to parking and noise. 

But the very fact is, there already are metropolis ordinances that cope with such considerations, and in a really perfect scenario, each short-term rental house owners and their aggrieved neighbors would come collectively to seek out methods to ensure they’re enforced. 

As for the declare about “removing housing stock” from our neighborhoods, that is the place the invoice actually goes astray. I feel you will need to give attention to the truth that a ban on short-term trip leases will do nothing to deal with Oahu’s — or Hawaii’s — housing disaster, however fairly will trigger grave financial hurt to many Hawaii residents.

Photo by Charley Myers

For instance, throughout an episode of “Hawaii Together” on ThinkTech Hawaii earlier this 12 months, I interviewed house owners of trip leases who spoke about how this invoice would make it inconceivable for them to afford their houses and will power them to depart Hawaii.

Meanwhile, I discover it suspicious that heavy assist for Bill 41 got here from the tourism trade, whose fortunes had been slammed over the previous two years by the lack of guests as a result of coronavirus lockdowns. 

Industry leaders touted the considerations concerning the impact of trip leases on neighborhoods and housing prices. But provided that they had been supporting regulation to remove their competitors, it’s troubling that such arguments had been taken at face worth, particularly when there’s little proof to again them up.

Research on how trip rental bans have an effect on housing prices is nebulous at finest. There are nationwide research suggesting that trip leases might drive up prices, however there are additionally research just like the one accomplished by Santa Barbara City and County

In 2016, Santa Barbara was contemplating a ban much like the one simply handed in Honolulu, however discovered that the influence of short-term leases on the long-term housing provide was “negligible, far less than presumed.” 

But we don’t need to rely upon mainland research. We can take a look at our personal expertise. 

Though house owners of trip leases typically clarify that their houses wouldn’t qualify as “affordable” housing or long-term leases, Kauai, Maui and the Big Island have all enacted some sort of ban on trip leases. Oahu tightened the screws in 2019. Yet, housing costs nonetheless went up. Even when trip rental utilization declined throughout the lockdowns, it didn’t lead to a big drop in housing prices.

The unhappy actuality is that, as soon as once more, Hawaii policymakers are falling for simple solutions. How good it could be if one thing fast and easy like an “empty homes” tax or a trip rental ban may clear up the housing disaster. 

But these aren’t actual solutions. What we’d like are insurance policies that may encourage homebuilding.

As I discussed in my column final week, “UHERO is my new housing policy hero,” we all know that one of many largest causes for Hawaii’s excessive value of housing is its regulatory boundaries to homebuilding. The counties have performed a big half in creating these boundaries. Now, they should begin the robust work of dismantling them.

Instead of a ban on trip leases, which isn’t going to convey down the price of housing in our state, our lawmakers needs to be spending their time enacting insurance policies which have been proven to work, just like the Tokyo Model of “light touch” density. 

Hawaii’s housing disaster is the results of many years of misguided coverage, and it may take practically as lengthy to repair. That is why we should work collectively now to establish and implement tried-and-true methods that may present us with the reasonably priced housing we so desperately want.
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Keli’i Akina is president and CEO of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii.

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