Council Resolution to Lower Short Term Rental Cap Fails

 

#kihei #shorttermrentals #housing

07/15/20

Tuesday, July 14, the Maui Commission on Planning reviewed County Council Resolution 20-27 to reduce short term rental caps. The initial proposal was made in March by Council Member Tamara Paltin out of concern for the West Maui area, but then was amended to include other areas of the island of Maui. The Maui Planning Commission consists of volunteers who make recommendations to the County Council in matters of planning, among other related duties.

The Maui Planning Department’s report suggested a dramatic lowering of caps, with the exception of South Maui, which had the highest number of allowed short term rental permits at 100. Currently there are only 45 permits which exist in Kihei.

Council Member Kelly King did not want to include South Maui with this resolution, the area which she represents, in order to gather more community feedback, according to Planning Director, Michele McLean. 

Kelly King, South Maui Councilor (image: mauicounty.us)

Commissioner and Vice-Chair Christian Tackett argued to cap the short term rentals so that hotels can remain in business. 

Christian Tackett, Vice Chair Maui Planning Commission (image: hicarpenters.com)

 â€œIs it worth it to encourage short-term businesses and lose a full time business like the Grand? (They provide) full time jobs with benefits and health care for children,and to say that we are doing a disservice by lowering the caps is not true, because we lose the full time employment options for the workers in hotels. Invest in your people who live here.”

When the point was made that by lowering the caps, the move may encourage illegal operations for short term rentals, Tackett dismissed the notion. 

“If we say others will steal a cookie anyway, so we should let them have it doesn’t make sense. We cannot be bullied. …there should be a consequence in place.”

He added, “(I see your) point of view but I don’t think if you take that stance, it will help the majority of the public.”

Commissioner Kawika Freitas agreed with Chair Carnicelli that there needs to be a larger plan.

Tackett voted to reduce the caps to keep those rentals out of residential areas, because he stated that short term rentals will drive up property values and make it more difficult for residents to purchase long-term housing.

Commissioner P. Denise La Costa seconded the motion to reduce the caps, citing the improved marine environment with the fewer visitors that Maui has been experiencing as part of her reasoning.

Commission P. Denise La Costa (image: ramaui.com)

Commissioner Stephen Castro said the hotels pay good wages and benefits. They will let people go if their hotels aren’t filled. He agreed with Tackett.

Commissioner Kelli Palli disagreed, saying that the small number of short term rentals units which could exist won’t compete with the hundreds of units provided by, as an example, the Grand Wailea. 

Grand Wailea Hotel (Image: Honolulu-Star Advertiser)

Lawrence Carnicelli, Commission Chair, suggested, after a lengthy discussion, that the short term rental cap issue needs to be part of a larger discussion, where a decision is made on how Maui sees its future. 

Lawrence Carnicelli, Chair Maui Planning Commission (image: ramaui.com)

“We need to make a policy decision,” he said, “but we are not the ones to do that.” He suggested that County Council may need to look at the bigger picture of Maui’s short term rental market.

If the Council makes a “conscious choice”  to not grow that segment of the travel, then he’s fine with it, he stated.

The motion to accept the proposed caps failed. A second motion was made that a study should be recommended to the County Council within a timeframe of six months. The motion passed, 5 to 1, with Tackett dissenting.

The Agendas and Minutes for the Maui Planning Commission are available on the County website.