Grassroot urges alternatives to Maui STR phase-out plan

A standing-room-only crowd packed the Maui Planning Commission’s June 25 meeting..

Instead of the mayor’s heavy-handed approach that is fraught with legal and economic risks, simply liberalize homebuilding regulations

The Grassroot Institute of Hawaii has added its voice to the hundreds of testimonies submitted to the Maui Planning Commission opposing Maui Mayor Richard Bissen‘s plan to phase out more than 7,000 short-term rentals on the island.

The Commission had its first meeting on the proposal in Council Chambers on Tuesday, joined by almost 200 individuals who expressed their views in person or via remote testimony. The hearing lasted almost 12 hours, with the testimonies running about 3 to 1 against. To accommodate individuals who were still waiting to testify, the Commission scheduled a second meeting tentatively for July 9.

In written testimony submitted to the Commission ahead of the Tuesday meeting, Grassroot Executive Vice President Joe Kent said Grassroot sympathizes with the desire to resolve the county’s housing crisis, but contends that the mayor’s plan is not the best way to pursue that goal.

“Instead of using a heavy-handed approach that would likely violate property rights, threaten the livelihoods of thousands of county residents and endanger the financial health of the County government itself, Maui lawmakers could study policy options described in Grassroot’s policy report issued this past December titled ‘How to facilitate more homebuilding in Hawaii,’” Kent said.

He noted that the report’s subtitle is “Changes to Hawaii’s zoning codes are essential and can be effected at no cost to Hawaii taxpayers,” which means, he said, that the report is “a font of win-win policy proposals that could be put into effect by Maui policymakers quicker and with far better results than Mayor Bissen’s STR phase-out plan.”

He concluded: “The Grassroot Institute of Hawaii believes there are better ways to provide housing quickly to Maui residents, and we urge the County to look to those avenues instead.”

If you would like to read the entire testimony, please go here.

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