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Maui’s Short Term Rentals

Sonny Abesamis
Sonny Abesamis

Short term rentals are a growing part of the visitor market on all of Hawai'i's islands. On Maui, residents of Paia and Haiku are trying to decide the future of short-term rentals in their community after an unusual discovery: their current community plan and the Maui County Code don't match up. We get more from HPR contributing reporter Colleen Uechi of the Maui News.

When the Maui County Council passed a law allowing short-term rentals in 2012, the Paia-Haiku area was given a rental cap of 88. But there was a problem: the 1995 Paia-Haiku Community Plan doesn't allow for short-term rentals.

But the issue was overlooked until this year. Now, Paia and Haiku residents are debating how many rentals they're willing to take.

A poll at a recent Haiku meeting showed residents evenly divided on the issue. Some say there are many permitted operators who follow the law and are good neighbors. Others think vacation rentals will take away more local housing.

The area already has 47 permitted short-term rentals. That's different from bed-and-breakfasts, which must have an owner living on site and are allowed in the community plan.  Sheila McLaughlin is a landscaper for some Mainland residents who own vacation rentals on Maui. McLaughlin doesn't think Haiku is a place for short-term rentals. She said they're more of a benefit to off-island residents and fears they'll raise the price of rents in the area.

Tim Wolfe owns a bed-and-breakfast in Haiku. He said getting rid of rentals wouldn't be fair to law-abiding operators. Wolfe believes enforcement of rules against illegal rentals is the real problem.

The issue will soon return to the Maui Planning Commission. The commission can choose to change the community plan and allow short-term rentals, or change the County Code to prohibit them. The commission could also lower the rental cap.

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