18 JUN 2019: Vacation rental registrations have been coming in to Hawaii County faster than workers can process them as the county implements a new law. All vacation owners, in existence since the first of April are required to register their property and pay a fee, before the end of a September deadline.

Property registrations must be submitted by Sept. 28 and a fee of $500 must be paid. 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.

Vacation rentals are defined as dwellings that are 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.

“It stands to reason. Most of the sunny weather, most of the rentals are on this side,” said Mark.

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.

The county is requesting bids from contractors for the development of a computerized short-term rental enforcement system. The vendor will be charged with maintaining a list of short-term rentals with parcel numbers and owners' information. The vendor will also be expected to monitor marketing content for compliance with county rules.

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