For Immediate Release: November 7, 2022
Press Release by:
Keani Rawlins-Fernandez, Council Vice-Chair
Maui County Council
Council passes historic transient accommodation caps
WAILUKU, Hawaiʻi—Council Vice-Chair Keani Rawlins-Fernandez announced that the council passed Bill 159, FD2 (2022), amending the comprehensive zoning ordinance to establish lower transient accommodations caps, on second and final reading at the council meeting on Friday.
This legislation was introduced by Rawlins-Fernandez, who said it is the culmination of well-considered solutions that resulted from the Tourism Management and Economic Development Temporary Investigative Group last year. Rawlins-Fernandez said Bill 159, known as the “caps bill,” establishes a point-in-time freeze on all existing short-term-rental uses and creates much-needed regulation prohibiting camper-van vacation rentals on public property.
“Since I got onto the council nearly four years ago, residents made abundantly clear that they felt inundated by the sheer number of people visiting Maui,” said Rawlins-Fernandez, who chairs the council’s Budget, Finance and Economic Development Committee, which established the investigative group. “The county is limited in its jurisdiction to control tourism—for example, we cannot limit the number of planes flying here—but we can limit the number of lodging units, disincentivize the proliferation of vacant second homes, and prohibit camper vans used as vacation rentals on public land.”
Areas that permitted transient accommodations were identified to create a “cap” for each zoning district, included Lāhainā Historic Districts 1 and 2, the Apartment Districts, the B-CT Country Town District, the B-2 and B-3 business districts, the B-R Resort Commercial District, the Hotel Districts, planned developments, and time share plans.
“The caps bill is one in a series of legislative proposals that this Council has passed,” Rawlins-Fernandez said. “This includes appropriately taxing transient accommodations to mitigate tourist impacts, reducing short-term rental homes (“STRH”) and bed and breakfast caps in residential zoning, establishing a zero STRH cap on Molokai, requiring vacation rentals to display their tax map key number while advertising on online platforms, such as Airbnb and VRBO, and creating a cultural overlay.”
The legislation was attached to Resolution 22-70, CD1, FD1 and transmitted to the planning commissions and advisory committees on April 22 for their findings and recommendations. The Molokai Planning Commission, Lānaʻi Planning Commission, Hāna Advisory Committee, Pāʻia-Haʻikū Advisory Committee, and South Maui Advisory Committee all voted to recommend passage of the bill with the Planning Department’s recommended nonsubstantive amendments.
Although the Maui Planning Commission scheduled the item, their recommendation was not transmitted within the charter-mandated time frame due to a technical matter. Therefore, the council was able to move forward with its decision-making but required a two-thirds vote to advance the legislation.
An approved amendment was to cap the increased number of units below the 3.2-foot sea level rise line and add an extra layer of public review for hotel expansion projects proposed in culturally sensitive areas, now requiring Cultural Resources Commission review.
For more information, please visit mauicounty.us/agendas/ or contact the Office of Council Services at (808) 270-8008.