Two ‘kitchenettes’ per home would be great move for Maui

The following testimony was submitted by the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii for consideration by the Maui Planning Commission on Feb. 27,2024.

Feb. 27, 9 a.m.
County of Maui Service Center
Suite 212A Conference Room

To: Maui Planning Commission
      Kellie Pali, Chair
      Kim Thayer, Vice-Chair

From: Grassroot Institute of Hawaii
           Jonathan Helton, Policy researcher


Aloha Chair Pali, Vice-Chair Thayer and other members of the Commission,

The Grassroot Institute appreciates the opportunity to comment on the Planning Director’s draft bill that would allow up to two “kitchenettes” in dwellings in the residential and rural zoning districts.

A kitchenette is defined in the bill as an area “used for the small-scale preparation and serving of food and beverages that may contain a sink, a refrigerator… and small appliances for the preparation of hot food or beverages, such as counter-top appliances and/or a two-burner range.”[1]

In essence, this bill is responding to the reality that often an individual or family who occupies part of a house will want access to a sink, refrigerator and a countertop to prepare food. Current code allows only one kitchen per dwelling unit, thus discouraging multigenerational households and rooming.

Allowing owners in residential and rural zones to legally install small sinks, refrigerators and other appliances would increase the availability of housing by increasing the amount of space with normal amenities.

Since many Maui households displaced by the August 2023 wildfires will be living together for some time, this bill is a smart, simple approach to a big problem.

However, we do recommend that the Commission and the Planning Director consult with the director of the Department of Water on the issue of fixture units to maximize the success of this bill.

Any new kitchenettes would require water, and the county’s annual budget sets limits on the number of fixtures — a rough proxy for water use[2] — that each type of water meter can accommodate.[3] A homeowner with a water meter who is already using its maximum fixture units would not be able to add a new sink, even if the bill passed.

Thank you for the opportunity to testify.

Jonathan Helton
Policy researcher
Grassroot Institute of Hawaii

[1] Kate Blystone, “A Bill For an Ordinance Amending Section 19.500.110, Maui County Code, Regarding Nonconformities,” Memo to the Maui, Molokai and Lanai Planning Commissions, Feb. 21, 2024, p. 3.
[2]Fixture unit,” Wikipedia, accessed Feb. 20, 2024.
[3]Revenues – Fees, Rates, Assessments and Taxes: Appendix B,” Maui County Budget for Fiscal Year 2023-24, p. 58.

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