HILO, Hawaii (AP) - Kohala Councilman Tim Richards said he will recuse himself from voting on a bill regulating vacation rentals until the Board of Ethics clears him of a potential conflict of interest.
Richards said Tuesday that he’s filed an amended financial disclosure report to reflect the income from the vacation rental. The rental is on the family’s Kahua Ranch property, zoned for agriculture, in Waimea, West Hawaii Today reported .
He said the property brought in between $50,000 and $100,000 last year. His original disclosure filed Jan. 31 did not list the rental income.
“My family manages a vacation rental as well. So right now, I’m in the process of receiving an opinion from the Board of Ethics,” Richards said during an April 24 council Planning Committee meeting discussing the bill. “At this point, I’m going to recuse myself from any votes until I get that opinion back, but I would like to participate in the conversation because I think I have a lot to contribute to the conversation.”
The bill is an attempt to prevent unhosted short-term rentals in residential and agricultural zones, while allowing them in hotel and resort zones. Existing rentals in good standing in the disallowed areas would be able to apply for a nonconforming use certificate that must be renewed annually.
Hawaii is the only county not regulating short-term vacation rentals. The county estimates there are 8,000 such rentals currently operating.
The Board of Ethics is expected to take up Richards’ request for an opinion at its meeting Monday.
The Board of Ethics previously cleared North Kona Councilwoman Karen Eoff, one of the sponsors of the bill, of a conflict after she disclosed ownership in a vacation rental in the Kailua-Kona resort district.
The board instructed her to get clearance from the council chairwoman, which she did.
Information from: West Hawaii Today, http://www.westhawaiitoday.com
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