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Honolulu CIty Council Approves Restrictions on Short-Term Rentals

The city estimates that there are 6,000 to 8,000 vacation rentals operating illegally.

The city estimates that there are 6,000 to 8,000 vacation rentals operating illegally. Allen G/Shutterstock

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STATE AND LOCAL ROUNDUP | Florida invests in computer science education … Personnel changes with Iowa Human Services agency … California mayors respond to potential ICE raids.

The Honolulu City Council voted unanimously to crack down on illegal vacation rentals in the Hawaiian city, which have grown significantly with the advent of Airbnb and other online booking sites. The new legislation will issue new permits to 1,715 bed-and-breakfast establishments, the first time the city has done so in over 30 years, but will allow no new permits for vacation rental homes, like those on Airbnb. Though there are currently only 816 legal short-term vacation rentals on the island of Oahu, the city planning department estimated that there are between 6,000 and 8,000 illegally operating in homes. “They’re wreaking havoc on home prices, rental prices, housing availability,” testified state Sen. Gil Riviere. Travel websites staunchly opposed the bill. “The Council had a clear choice between fair and enforceable compromise and a dangerous and onerous ban. Unfortunately, with tonight’s vote, Council puts in jeopardy nearly 7,000 local jobs, $336 million in local household income, and $77 million in state taxes,” Expedia said in a statement. Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell urged councilors to pass the measure, while acknowledging that this is not the perfect solution. “I don’t think we should let the perfect get in the way of the good. I think the current model of enforcement is not working. And I don’t think it will ever work, by the way,” he said. [Honolulu Star-Advertiser; Hawaii News Now]

AGENCY OVERHAUL | Republican Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds asked for the immediate resignation of the state Department of Human Services Director Jerry Foxhoven on Tuesday, saying that she wants the agency to “go in new direction.” Pat Garrett, the governor’s spokesperson, said in a statement that the Reynolds “has spent the first part of this year assembling a new team, from top to bottom, to carry out her vision,” and that more changes will be announced in the coming weeks. Foxhoven released a statement wishing “the many hardworking employees at the Department the very best.” Foxhoven dealt with several controversies during his two-year tenure, including the death of two children in the state foster care system that happened just before he arrived, and the implementation of managed care of Iowa’s Medicaid system, which has spurred thousands of complaints. The decision to remove him was met with disappointment from both Republican and Democratic state lawmakers. "I'm just very disappointed. I don't know if there's anyone in the state of Iowa that could have done a better job than Jerry,” said Republican state Sen. Brad Zaun. "It's sad that he's leaving the department. He did a great job running it,” said state Democratic Rep. John Forbes. But other state lawmakers applauded the decision, and said the state should implement a nationwide search for a new director. Republican state Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver said that “Governor Reynolds should select department directors to best implement her priorities as a result of the mandate given to her by the people of Iowa...I look forward to beginning the confirmation process with the new appointee.” [Des Moines Register; The Gazette; KCCI]

COMPUTER SCIENCE FUNDING | Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced the largest ever one-time investment into computer science education this week. There are currently only 1,200 computer science teachers in Florida, and in 2017, of the 13,000 people in the state who graduated with teaching credentials, only two were certified in computer science. DeSantis said that the new funding will support training new teachers and provide bonuses to established teachers to retain them. “Florida’s students need access to educational opportunities to learn skills that will make them competitive in the modern economy and today’s high-skilled, high-wage jobs,” said DeSantis. The state legislature also mandated that computer science courses can now fulfill math or science requirements. "We are getting Florida's workforce ready," state Sen. Travis Hutson said. "This is transformative, it's innovative. It's something that I think is the future in making sure these young minds find their passion. When they get passionate about being in certain careers and certain jobs, they'll do better in school." [Tampa Bay Times; WUSF; Florida Daily]

MAYOR RESPONSE ON ICE RAIDS | President Trump announced a new wave of immigration enforcement raids on Twitter late Monday. “Next week ICE will begin the process of removing the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States. They will be removed as fast as they come in,” he said. Within a few hours, several mayors in California cities responded that they would resist sweeps in their cities. “We won’t stand for it in Los Angeles, and will take every step possible to protect Angelenos from harm and the tragedy of family separation," Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a statement. Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf tweeted her response. “If you continue to threaten, target and terrorize families in my community... and if we receive credible information... you already know what our values are in Oakland—and we will unapologetically stand up for those values,” she said. San Francisco Mayor London Breed called the threats “cruel, inhumane, and immoral.” [KTLA; San Jose Mercury News; San Francisco Chronicle]

LONE CHICAGO REPUBLICAN | The sole Republican representing Chicago in the Illinois state legislature has resigned after 23 years, saying that he wants to spend more time with his family. State Rep. Michael McAuliffe, who was first appointed to his seat after the death of his father, who held the position before him, said that “while [he] never set out to spend 13 terms in Springfield, [he] felt a higher calling for public service and responsibility to my community.” His 2016 race was one of the closest and most expensive races for the state legislature, with each candidate spending more than $2 million, in what was seen as a proxy race between the candidates’ two biggest political supporters, former Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democratic State House Speaker Michael Madigan. The race attracted attention because McAuliffe’s election represented one of the only ways to end House Democrats’ veto-proof supermajority. He will now have a great deal of say in the selection of his replacement, along with local Republican leaders. [Chicago Sun Times; Chicago Tribune]

Emma Coleman is the assistant editor for Route Fifty.

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