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State briefs for Feb. 28

Kauai official charged in federal meth probe

HONOLULU — Law enforcement officials are charging a Kauai councilman and 11 others with crimes including conspiracy to distribute large amounts of methamphetamine.

In a statement released Thursday, the Kauai police department said they worked with federal agencies to secure a federal indictment against Kauai County Councilmember Arthur Brun and 11 other people.

The suspects are part of “a major drug trafficking organization that has been supplying a significant amount of methamphetamine throughout the community,” Police Chief Todd Raybuck said in a statement. He said they face felony charges of conspiring to distribute methamphetamine and other crimes.

Officials did not name the 11 others that are being charged. The indictment was not immediately available Thursday, officials said.

Vacation rentals decline on Oahu, increase on other islands

HONOLULU — The Hawaii Tourism Authority has made public data showing the number of short-term vacation rentals on Oahu continued to decline, while the state’s other islands had increases.

Oahu had 30,000 fewer short-term rental nights available in January 2020 compared to the same month last year, a 13% decline/.

The City and County of Honolulu adopted a law in 2019 aimed at cracking down on unpermitted use of houses and condos as vacation rentals. The practice had been illegal since 1989, but was largely viewed as unenforceable.

The new ordinance allows authorities to issue violation notices based on a property being advertised as a short-term rental. Inspectors previously had to catch violators renting a property for a period of less than 30 days.

Despite the overall decrease across Oahu, there was an increase of almost 12% in short-term rentals offered in Waikiki, where rentals of less than 30 days remain legal.

Owners in neighborhoods such as Waikiki that are zoned as resort districts are allowed to operate short-term rentals without special permits Any property can legally be rented for a period of longer than 30 days.

Hawaii Island had an increase of 9%, concentrated around Kona, while Hilo experienced a slight decline of 0.1%.

Kauai experienced a 23% increase.

Maui saw 27% growth in available rentals. The growth rate in Lahaina, 36%, was the highest for the state. Maui County said in a statement that housing officials continue to crack down on illegal rentals, issuing 180 warnings and 80 notices of violation to illegal rental operators in 2019.
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald

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