Kohala councilman recuses self from rental bill amid review

HILO >> The Hawaii County Board of Ethics at a meeting today is expected to take up Kohala Councilman Tim Richards’ request for an opinion on whether he has a conflict of interest and should recuse himself from voting on a bill regulating vacation rentals.

Richards said last week that he’s filed an amended financial disclosure report to reflect the income from his 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.

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