Proposal before Maui council would phase out thousands of short-term rentals

The move comes amid mounting complaints about visitors on the island.
Published: Oct. 6, 2021 at 7:02 PM HST|Updated: Oct. 6, 2021 at 10:33 PM HST
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MAUI (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Maui County Council is considering phasing out all short-term rentals in apartment districts on the island.

“We have way too many tourists for our infrastructure to handle and we’re trying to stabilize the situation,” said West Maui Councilwoman Tamara Paltin.

If Paltin’s proposal passes, it would affect more than 7,000 vacation rentals on the Valley Isle.

“It was actually a hotel’s commitment to workforce housing that eventually converted to short-term rental usage,” Paltin said. “So that’s a lot of our problem, too. These units that were meant as workforce housing converting to short-term rentals.”

Paltin is proposing to phase those units out as they are sold to create more units available for residential use and generate much-needed affordable housing.

“We really can’t build our way out of this housing crisis. So, part of it could be to unlock homes for locals,” she said.

Jack Nicoletti is a Realtor on Maui who works with many vacation rental owners. He says it doesn’t make sense financially.

“The property we owned, when we first bought it, we weren’t residents here, and I was paying almost $6,000 a year in property tax. I’ve been a resident here now for a little over three years and it’s our primary residence, and I’m paying less than $1,200,” Nicoletti said.

“The maintenance fees that we pay alone in these condos are $900, $800, $1,000, $1,100 a month ... how can that become affordable housing for somebody?”

Paltin says it’s a move the county can afford.

“For years we’ve invested about $4 million a year to the Maui Visitors Bureau, trying to get folks to come to Maui. And what we really saw in the pandemic is we can’t stop them from coming to Maui. So why are we spending $4 million to tell people to come here?”

Paltin hopes to open this proposal to public testimony in her committee within the next couple of months.

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