Bad news: Obama's Hawaiian vacation rental was illegal

“Illegal” is such an ugly word. Instead, let’s say that the rental wasn’t … properly documented. And before any Birthers e-mail me: Yes, yes, I know. “Neither is he.”

Something for Darrell Issa to add to his list?

President Barack Obama’s two-week stay at his Hawaii Winter White House was illegal under a long-standing Honolulu ban on short-term rentals.

Obama did not break the law by staying at the house, but the property owner who rented his house to the Obamas does not have the permit that would allow a stay of fewer than 30 days…

“They were here for about two weeks, approximately, but I don’t want to get into the contractual issues,” Weinberg said. “They don’t have to rent it for 30 days but you have to leave a 30-day window. I had to make sure that during that period, either 15 days after them or 15 days before them, I can’t rent it. And that was the case with (the Obamas).”…

Weinberg’s explanation is one that’s commonly offered, but that still represents an illegal renting practice. Since the 1980s, Honolulu’s land-use ordinance has required anyone renting property for a period of “less than 30 days” to obtain a permit to do so. The law was crafted to discourage a spike in short-term vacation rentals, which had residents in many communities complaining of wild parties and other neighborhood disruptions. The city hasn’t issued any new permits in two decades. For years, the question of whether the city should again issue permits has generated controversy.

I’m tempted to find in this a cautionary tale about government interference in the marketplace, how it imposes new costs and obstructs willing buyers and sellers who wish to transact. But I can’t quite get past the part about “wild parties.” I know it’s Hawaii, I know it’s Honolulu, but dude — how common, and how wild, were these parties to warrant banning the practice of short-term rentals entirely? Belated alternate headline for this post: “Blogger moving to Oahu.”

Exit question: He’s bad luck for sports teams and he’s bad luck for political candidates. (And for national economies, natch.) Could The One possibly be bad luck for real estate too? Exit answer: Yes.