The Planning Department is presenting a case for phasing out short term rental permits at the next Maui Planning Commission Meeting. The item on the agenda is Resolution 20-27 from Maui County Council proposing to reduce the number of short term rental home permits in each region, capping them at their existing numbers. The Planning Department is using this resolution as a platform to bring up their idea of phasing out the permits. Remember that the Molokai meeting to set caps for the island resulted in the caps being set to zero.

The idea that reducing the short term rental permit caps will satisfy Maui’s housing needs, or will eliminate over tourism in Maui is just wrong. In fact this permitting system has benefited the county through taxes funding for the county budget, supporting a cottage industry of small businesses that keep their dollars on Maui. 

We need the community to stand up and let the planning commission know that we need to keep our permitting system and why it would be a bad idea to phase it out, or reduce the permits. 

Submit written testimony by 9am Friday June 5 to
Because of social distancing all meetings are done over your computer or phone. No driving to Wailuku needed! All you have to do is click the link below to attend this meeting next week Tuesday, June 9, 2020 a few minutes before 9am.

When you are in the meeting it will look like the image below. You can decide to keep your video picture visible or not.
Maui Planning Commission Meeting:

To testify and watch the Planning Commission meeting:

If you plan to testify, there will be a chat icon at the top of your screen, tap that and type in you would like to testify.

To listen to the meeting or provide oral testimony via phone, dial 1-888-749-9073 and enter code: 663 596 249 
Here are some talking points and background information:

A recent PBN article states that visitor arrivals are going to take up to 6 years to recover from our current COVID-19 shutdown according to a report by the state department of Business Economic Development and Tourism. Rod Antone, Maui Hotel and Lodging Association, says that even when hotels do open and take reservations again, they are looking at a much reduced number for occupancy. The hotels will not be rehiring all of their employees back right away, and some may not even open until they hit enough occupancy.
Vacation rentals do not have the same kind of impediments to operation, they are already used to lower occupancy rates, and contactless check ins. So they have the safety measures, and business model for post covid visitor industry innovation built in already.

The small business people that work with them, including c leaning companies, maintenance companies, accounting firms, construction firms and landscaping firms, set their own terms, pay scales, and hours, and have a high level of professionalism in this sector of our hospitality industry. These are not the low paying jobs of the Maui visitor industry. Keeping our vacation rental industry up and running is going to be a key factor in strengthening our post-COVID economy.

The Planning Department states in their report on changing the caps , “ many of these dwellings could be used for long term housing .” Permittees please speak to your use in your testimony, is your home a second home for you, or would you be renting it out long term if you did not have a permit? It is important to let this department know what your use is rather than let them keep assuming any home they wouldn't permit is readily available for long term housing.
These permitted homes have been properly vetted by the planning department’s permitting process. They are up to code, and pay high tax rates to operate with that permit. While shut down they are not paying TAT, GET. It's going to be an important part of Maui’s economy to get them going again when it is safe, so let's not shut this industry down even further. 
We are asking that everyone also bcc’s us on their written information, so we can also keep track.
We encourage everyone who works in the industry to attend this meeting through the blue jeans link . Please let your managers and other small business people that you work with know, like housekeepers, landscapers, nearby shops and restaurants and maintenance businesses. 
Click the link below to have an email window populate with the appropriate information. Cut and paste ideas from this email and season it with your own stories and ideas. Please email no later than this Friday, June 5 at 9am. Mahalo.
Here are some other important talking points that you can use in your testimony. Choose what speaks to you.
Permits are not transferable and applicants must own property for five years before making an application to ensure that STRHs can never have any impact on housing prices or availability of housing for residential uses. This has been definitively proven in that less than 1/2 of 1 percent of houses sold in the past 8 years have been issued STRH permits. Permitted STRHs have never impacted housing availability or costs.
One important point is that the STR homes tend to be higher end homes. Without an STR permit, they will simply sit empty as they are “second homes”, not “investment homes”. Most of these owners spend 1 to 5 months of the year in Maui, so these will never convert to long term housing. Rather than being empty, they are providing jobs for managers, agents, housekeepers etc. These are jobs that allow residents to live/work within their community, which is a goal of our community plan. As an example, the housekeepers that work in Haiku / Paia would have no desire to travel to Wailea or Kaanapali every day.  
The permitted homes have proven that they can blend into their communities, with almost NO complaints from the neighborhoods that they ar 
This is the future of our visitor industry. Hyatt and Marriott are both getting into the short term rental business, forming alliances or making purchases to give them access to homes and condos. Many hotel brands are investing in timeshare kinds of buildings. 
With the promise of being able to operate legally, homeowners made the requested modifications, etc to their properties, some at great expense. It is extremely unfair and unethical to say “well we said you could, but now we changed our minds.
If the department is concerned about the work load to renew 250 permits (approx. 50 renewals each year), then revise the ordinance to say that permits will remain in effect until a) the property is sold, b) “x” valid neighbor complaints, c) property is not being operated in accordance with the provisions of 19.65. Make the length of the permits 10 years with the ability to renew for 10 years.
229 STR's are not changing communities. People buying second homes where long term families lived, is changing the neighborhoods. Those numbers are closer to 8000 or higher.

The median earner in Hawaii can't afford the median priced home. Until this is solved, our neighborhoods are changing and 229 STR's have virtually nothing to do with this.
Legal Update

We still need your help with our legal fund. We are actively watching the administration’s activities and remain concerned about all attempts to phase out vacation rentals. Please join our legal fund today by clicking here to contribute so that we can continue to be well prepared. 
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Jen Russo
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