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February 18, 2015

 

To: House Committee on Consumer Protection & Commerce

Rep. Angus McKelvey, Chair

Rep. Justin Woodson, Vice Chair

 

From: Grassroot Institute of Hawaii

President Keli’i Akina, Ph.D.

 

RE: HB 825 — RELATING TO TRANSIENT ACCOMODATIONS

 

Dear Chair and Committee Members:

The Grassroot Institute of Hawaii would like to offer its comments on HB 825, which would establish licensing requirements and enforcement provisions for transient vacation rentals, which would then be administered by the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs.

The Grassroot Institute recommends the committee carefully consider an unintended consequence of the proposed measure.   While the bill purports to bring oversight and regulation to the many undocumented vacation rentals in the state, it provides little incentive and enforceable process for such establishments to “come out of the shadows.” Instead, the effect of this bill is to burden the compliant small businesses and owner/operator establishments by creating a system that favors larger rental companies and hotels.

Tourism is the lifeblood of the state’s economy, and any proposal that could have far-reaching effects on the state’s ability to attract new visitors and reach new markets must be considered carefully before action is taken. There remain questions regarding the practical enforceability of the bill in question, the interpretation of the language used, and its economic effect—both on small, locally-owned businesses and for the tourist industry generally.

Thank you for the opportunity to submit our comments.

Sincerely,

Keli’i Akina, Ph.D.

President, Grassroot Institute of Hawaii