March 5, 2020

Thank you to those of you who responded and sent letters opposing the phase out of Short Term Rental Home Permits.

The Planning Department needs to hear your input at their meeting!

We are recommending people arrive around 2:30 to be sure they can get a seat. 

On Friday, March 6 at 3 pm at the Kalana Pakui Conference Room at 250 S. High Street, the County of Planning Department will be hosting a community meeting regarding the potential phase out of Short Term Rental Homes Permits on Maui.

Phase-out of STRH permits on Maui
Friday, March 6, 2020, 3pm
Maui Planning Department Conference Room
250 South High Street
Kalana Pakui Bldg, #200
Wailuku, Maui, HI 96793

For those who cannot attend, Please SEND AN EMAIL NO LATER than March 5, 2020 so your voice will be heard.  Its not too late.
for quick reference:

If you haven’t sent any comments or testimony here are some that you can cut and paste from and customize for yourself:

“I use my Maui home part time and as a result it would never be available as a long term rental.”

There have been a lot of misconceptions about Short Term Rental Homes. Some people think by eliminating them we would get more affordable housing. This is absolutely not true. The facts show most of these homes are second homes and high end homes. Many of the owners come to live on Maui for part of the year, and rent out the property using a permit. Taking away the permit system would not create housing, nor long term rental situations. Homes that would be put on the market would not be in the affordable range. 

There has never been any complaint regarding the short term rental of my home by any of my neighbors”

I have heard people say STRH are changing neighborhoods. But we want to know details. Lets get specific. There are lots of neighbors and neighborhoods that also support STRH homes, and like them as their neighbors. They feel these homes are well maintained, and if there is a problem, neighbors know who to contact, because the information is posted. If a home is a second home, getting used by extended family and friends, its use would look like a vacation rental, but neighbors would have no way of knowing who to contact. There are a lot more second homes on Maui, around 8000, then there are short term rental homes, which total 189 on Maui. 

If your neighbor supports you ask them to write a quick letter or forward this newsletter to them.

“I provide long term housing on Maui because …”

If you provide long term housing for a manager or otherwise indicate that

“I have owned my Maui home since (year purchased) and was issued my STRH permit in (year granted) (if this difference is more than 5 years.)”

“I have spent $XX,XXX.00 maintaining my Maui home”

“I have paid $XX,XXX.00 in GET, TAT and HawIi income taxes related to the Short Term rental of my Maui home”

“I pay $XX,XXX.00 per year in property tax on my Maui home and this amount is double what I would pay if I did not have a permit.”

“I live on Maui and own a STRH”

There is a misconception that only mainland or international owners run STRH. There are a lot of Maui people who own these homes. Around 50% of the permit holders live on Maui and run their operation from Maui. Many Short Term Rental permit holders also have long term renters on their properties, or provide long term housing for some of their employees. Eliminating these permits will probably eliminate those long term housing situations for Maui residents.

In addition please see the testimony from former President of Maui Vacation Rental Association, Tom Croly. It is a great overall history of the industry and has a lot of points that you may be interested in and can utilize.

Public comments on Phase out of the Short Term Rental Home permit process
By Thomas Croly

The short term rental home (STRH) ordinance was established into Maui County code in May 2012. It was the second piece of legislation, after the B&B ordinance, that was designed to help regulate an already well established part of the visitor industry consisting of various forms of short term rental uses taking place in single family homes in Maui County. The need for this regulation was recognized in the late 1990’s when operations making these uses began applying for Conditional use permits and the planning department found themselves overwhelmed with the processing of individual Conditional use permit, each that would need to go before planning commission and full Council for approval. 

In 2005 the Realtors association of Maui commissioned the Kauaian Institute to do a comprehensive study of the existing short term rental industry in Maui County. This study revealed that at that time there were 816 single-family home properties that were making short term rental uses. And these 816 properties were operating a total of 1095 rental units. The study did not attempt to differentiate between properties where the owner lived and properties that were strictly rentals where the owner did not reside.

When the B&B ordinance was crafted in 2007 and 2008, a cap of 400 permits was established. That cap was expected to make enough B&B permits available to meet the existing demand for this use by the traveling public that was being met by the existing owner occupied B&B operations. Since there was an understanding that owner occupied B&Bs were only one segment of these operations, the cap of 400 permits island wide, and the distribution of these permits established in each community plan area was calculated by the proportions that had been identified in the Kauaian Institute report. This number of permits represented approximately half of the properties that had been identified by the report.

After the B&B ordinance had been established and the planning department and Council began their work on the Short Term Rental home ordinance, a cap was established for STRH permits at 400, that along with the 400 B&B permits would provide enough permits to fill the total market demand that had been identified by the Kauaian institute report. Later the cap for STRH permits in Hana was reduced from 48 to 30 and in 2019 the cap for STRH permits in Paia-Haiku was reduced from 88 to 55. Leaving a current cap of 349 STRH permits for Maui Island.

During the promulgation of both the B&B and STRH ordinances several community members expressed opinions that if these uses were allowed, everyone on the island would choose to make these uses because they were so profitable. Twelve years later it is very clear that such fears were completely unfounded, as today there are currently only 152 Bed and Breakfast permits and 226 Short term rental home permits. The planning department estimates that there are still 100-200 unpermitted operations, but this total of 478 to 578 is well short of the 800 properties that were identified in 2005 and well below the inflammatory estimates of thousand and thousands from those opposed to this use based on unfounded hyperbole.

It is true that Maui County has between 4000 to 8000 off-island owned second homes that are neither permitted short term rentals nor long term rentals, whose owner’s have shown no interest in obtaining an STRH permit that comes with lots of regulations and doubles owners the property tax bill. These second homes are often erroneously identified by neighbors as short term rentals because when their part time owners use them or when they allow their friends and families to use them, they may look like short term rentals. But these second homes are not subject to quiet hours, occupancy limits and parking restrictions. And these second homes are not managed by nearby professional property mangers as Permitted STRHs are. 

Uniformed individuals have made the assertion that the availability of STRH permits has driven up the costs of housing on Maui. Such assertions have no basis in fact. When the fact is that of the 10,104 single-family homes that have been sold since 2010, only approximately 50 of them have been granted a short term rental home permit. (Less than 1/2 of 1 percent) These 50 home purchases that later were granted STRH permits most certainly did not set the market value for the other 10,054 homes sold during that period. STRH permits have never been transferable. And in March of 2018 the STRH ordinance was amended to require an applicant for a STRH permit have owned the property for at least 5 years before becoming eligible to make application for a permit. Therefore any future STRH permits could never have any influence on market prices at all. 

Additional unfounded assertions have been made that permitted STRHs are causing assessed values to increase and therefore placing a greater tax burden on residents, when the total opposite is the truth. When a property sells that had an STRH or B&B permit associated with it, the real property tax department flags that sale and does not use it for a comparison for assessed values of non permitted homes in the area. 

However, properties where an STRH permit has been granted pay property tax at a rate that is approximately double the rate that they would be subject to without such a permit and four times the rate that a resident homeowner of the same property would pay. So STRHs actually bring down the tax burden to residents. As point of fact, last year all properties classified as short term rental, including the 11,450 condos in apartment and hotel zoning and the 229 short term rental homes, paid a total of $101 million in property tax. Compared that to the $34 million paid by all 26,000 Maui county homeowner’s. Yes, 11,679 short term rentals paid three times the total property tax paid by all 26,120 Maui resident homeowners. STRHs actually lower the tax burden to Maui resident homeowners.

Finally, assertions have been made that permitted STRHs  have negatively impacted neighborhoods. However a review of the Requests for Service (RFS) filed on the 229 permitted STRHs does not support such an assertion. While some members of the community have regularly come forward to oppose any and all short term rental and bed and breakfast permits with assertions of change in neighborhood or fears of who might be staying in a particular home. None have ever substantiated those assertions with any evidence. And while it is true that some neighborhoods in Maui are made up primarily of off island owned properties, there is no evidence that the availability of a permit created any change of the property uses or demographics of ownership of those properties. For example many oceanfront properties have been owned by off island owners for many years and while some of those owners have come forward to apply for, and be granted STRH permits, the majority of oceanfront properties have been owned and continue to be owned by off island owners, used strictly as second homes and the availability of an STRH permit has not changed that situation.

It is a short sighted and unsubstantiated idea that elimination of the Short term rental ordinance and non renewal of current short term rental permits would lead to any better regulation of this use or availability and lower price of residential housing on Maui. While it is well documented that elimination of the permits for this use would result in less real property tax revenues, less State General excise tax and Transient accommodation tax revenue, less oversight of rentals, and would leave the market demand for such accommodations solely to the underground unregulated segment of the market. 

The Short term rental home ordinance is serving its intended purpose of regulating this use in Maui County. It is not perfect and requires considerable effort both on behalf of the permit applicants and the County. But overall it has much higher compliance rate than that of building permits for home and condo renovations. Yet, no one is proposing abandoning building permits, although some have called for moratoriums on issuing some types of building permits. As was demonstrated in the 2005 Kauaian Institute study, Short term rentals will exist with or without a permitting process to regulate them. But without such a process, they will all be unregulated and perhaps less safe for visitors and the State and county will lose out of hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenues.


Jen Russo
Executive Director
Maui Vacation Rental Association

MVRA cannot take on this battle alone! We need your membership NOW! If you want to be kept up to date on government actions with our newsletters. JOIN NOW!  

If you prefer to mail your membership dues, send checks to MVRA to 140 Hoohana St. Suite 210, Kahului, HI, 96732. 
LET US KNOW if you would be interested in organizing an STRH tour for council members, or if you are good at writing press releases, or if you can do graphic design, or if you would like to organize a Habitat for Humanity / MVRA event, or think you could be helpful in creating info for our website repository for guests and members with Cultural History, Hawaiian Culture, Ocean Safety, Environmental Awareness, etc.


Did you read our last newsletter update? We gave a lot of good talking points about the upcoming Planning Department Community Meeting. You can check it out here:
A new  Maui Vacation Rental Association Website  is up - and we have begin renewing memberships in the new system. If you haven't signed up, please do so! Your membership is critical to the work we do. Please take a moment to respond to invoices and login to the new site. We will be sending future emails from this new system. We will continue to develop this site with County updates, featured properties, new member highlights, and directories of vendor businesses. There are new monthly membership payment options as well. Please keep an eye out for membership emails coming from the new site and email me with any questions on this process.