Honolulu City Council courted by opposing rental interests

HONOLULU (AP) — Debate over vacation rental bills has led to accusations that Honolulu City Council members have become targets for influence peddling, a report said.

Each side in the vacation rental debate has said its opponents are trying to buy influence on the nine-member city council, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Monday.

Two significant vacation rental bills were scheduled for final readings before the council Monday.

A Star-Advertiser review of campaign finance records for more than two years shows council members received contributions from major donors who support and would benefit from the bills.

Proponents of more hosted and whole-home rentals such as bed-and-breakfasts and transient vacation units point to council contributions from hoteliers that would benefit from stricter vacation rental regulations.

Airbnb Inc. wants the city to increase permits for vacation rentals of fewer than 30 days.

The Committee to Expand the Middle Class, supported by Airbnb, contributed to the campaigns of six of the nine council members.

Councilman Ikaika Anderson received $4,000, the maximum allowed during a campaign cycle.

A campaign fundraiser hosted for Anderson at Airbnb’s San Francisco headquarters in November will not affect his vote on rental ordinances, he said.

The event was an opportunity for San Francisco’s business community to meet Anderson and “learn about Hawaii’s growing economy,” Airbnb said in a statement.

Two weeks after the fundraiser, Anderson introduced a bill to allow permits only if the property owners are entitled to home exemptions because they live in their homes.

“That’s not what Airbnb wants,” Anderson said. “That’s not what Expedia wants. Too bad.”

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Information from: Honolulu Star-Advertiser, http://www.staradvertiser.com

Copyright © 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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