No license, no break: City wants to crack down on unlicensed home businesses

In Hawaii, weddings are a big business. But apparently for some people, a ceremony next to their home is nothing but a big headache. A measure now before the Honolulu City Council takes aim at commercial activities that are not allowed in a residential community.

Right now, if a business operating in a residential neighborhood is found to be in violation, the city will hit the company with a fine. That’s what happened to former model Kathy Ireland, who once owned a home in East Honolulu that held marriage ceremonies. Her “Kathy Ireland Wedding Destinations” company racked up $109,000 in fines, but the city last year settled with her for just $5,687.

Honolulu City Councilmember Stanley Chang, who represents East Honolulu and Waikiki, says his bill would put a stop to negotiated settlements.

“Across our residential neighborhoods, we have people operating illegal businesses in their own homes,” said Chang. “For example, weddings. These businesses can generate hundreds of thousands, even millions of dollars in revenue, but they also generate noise, traffic congestion.”

Dianne Shitanishi of Hawaii Weddings and Events said “I feel that they should reinforce the regulations.” She added that “because as law abiding citizens, we should be following the rules, and no one should be out of that.”

Chang says his bill will not only focus on illegal wedding companies in residential neighborhoods, but homes that operate unlicensed bed and breakfasts and transient vacation rentals as well.

Bill 50 will have its first hearing before the Honolulu City Council on August 13.

Sec. 2-3.5 Council approval for settlement of certain accrued civil fines.
(a) No claim by the city for accrued civil fines for violations of the provisions listed in subsection (b) shall be settled for less than the total amount of the accrued fines due and owing to the city without the prior approval of the council.
(b) This section applies to civil fines imposed for the following violations:
(1) Violations of Chapter 21 for engaging in a commercial use not permitted in a residential-zoned area; and
(2) Violations of…

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