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State briefs for August 6

Judge to consider rental law restraining order

HONOLULU — A federal judge is expected to consider a restraining order seeking to stop Honolulu from enforcing a new vacation rental ordinance, officials said.

A U.S. District Court judge is scheduled to hear the case Aug. 15.

The Hawaii Vacation Rental Owners Association, also known as the Kokua Coalition, said it reached a settlement agreement with the city allowing the council to continue 30-day rental agreements. The agreement was approved by a federal judge.

The ordinance that went into effect last week bans renting or advertising unpermitted short-term rental units outside a resort district. The law also increases fines for renting or advertising the units from $1,000 per day to a maximum of $10,000 per day.

House or apartment rentals for less than 30 days will remain illegal unless they are in designated hotel-resort areas or specifically approved under a nonconforming use certificate, Honolulu officials said.

The Kokua Coalition consists of members operating vacation rental properties where only one tenant has exclusive use for a 30-day period, even if the tenant does not use the unit for the full time.

The new ordinance appears to allow 30-day rentals, but a city Department of Planning and Permitting website specifically disallows it, said Greg Kugle, a Kokua Coalition attorney.

The website statement is a reversal from how the department has dealt with the Kokua Council, Kugle said.

The city has until Aug. 9 to file materials with the court and the Kokua Coalition has until Aug. 13 to reply.

Missing hiker found dead at Maui waterfall

WAILUKU, Maui — A solo hiker reported missing while visiting Maui was found dead, police said.

Craig Pitt, 35, of Florida had not been seen since about noon Wednesday in Paia, Maui.

Pitt’s vehicle was found Friday parked on the shoulder of Hana Highway, authorities said. Maui police and fire personnel began searching the bamboo forest area Saturday.

During a search, authorities found the body of a man at the base of a waterfall. The body was positively identified through fingerprints as Pitt, police said later Sunday. The circumstances and cause of his death are still under investigation, but police don’t suspect foul play.

Pitt planned to hike on one of the trails along Hana Highway, authorities said.

The investigation remains active and Pitt’s family members were notified, police said.

Meanwhile, volunteers suspended a search Sunday for another missing person, 23-year-old Khiara Henry.
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald

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