The council is considering a report outlining ways to manage tourism on Maui
Regulating peer-to-peer car sharing, capping tourist lodging and banning temporary vacation rentals in certain districts are among ideas for steering Maui’s tourism put forward by a county group this week.
These and other recommendations are part of a Report with over 400 pages presented at Wednesday’s meeting of the Council’s Budget, Finance and Economic Development Committee.
The plans, derived by a temporary investigative group of four council members, will be discussed at the February 23 committee meeting for referral or other legislative action.
Members of the group included Council Vice Chair Keani Rawlins-Fernandez, Chair Alice Lee, and Members Shane Sinenci and Tamara Paltin. They met with industry and community participants over the course of seven meetings that began last year.
Lee on Wednesday reiterated the committee’s hard work and said she disagreed with some of the recommendations.
“I didn’t agree with everything, but I certainly agree with the work ethic and everything that goes with it,” she said. “It was a lot of work.”
Paltin said it is impossible to enshrine economic diversity in law and the big task will involve work from many sectors.
“It’s going to take every single person to think about Maui County’s economic diversification,” she said. “It’s not just a six-month TIG thing or a two-year term thing — it’s every day, all day, for the rest of our lives.”
Council discussions and public comment on the management of tourism have intensified during the pandemic.
After visitor arrivals hit a record high of more than 3 million in 2019, tourism was largely paused in early 2020 with the onset of the pandemic. However, domestic travel resumed towards the end of 2020 and residents have seen a resurgence in arrival numbers that are now on par with those before the pandemic.
Data from the Hawaii Department of Tourism shows domestic arrivals last month surpassed the same month in 2019.
With the rapid recovery comes impacts on roads and other infrastructure, natural resources, and housing. In addition, the industry has experienced unabated growth for many years, council members said.
The council recently refused a veto by Mayor Michael Victorino on a bill designed to help stifle further growth. Bill 148 imposes a moratorium on new transient units until the Council implements the IST’s recommendations, or in two years, whichever comes first.
Wednesday’s IST report contains eight legislative proposals, including the following:
- Set a cap on tourist accommodation. Establish a cap on the number of temporary shelters currently in operation or legally permitted under the current Maui County Code and submit legislation to planning commissions and advisory committees.
- Create a tourism management structure for the county. Establish a Tourism Management Commission with voting members who are not directly or solely financially dependent on the tourism industry and include an ex-officio member who is financially dependent on the industry to provide voting members with insight for decision-making .
- Green energy requirements for temporary housing. Amend the Countywide Policy Plan to encourage the tourism industry to implement green energy technologies and sustainability measures.
- Remove arbitrary wording about the 33% tourist fee in the Maui island plan. Amending the island of Maui’s plan to stop applying for permits or temporary vacation rental permits if visitor numbers exceed 33% of the resident population.
- Regulating the peer-to-peer car sharing industry. Amending the Maui County Code to add a new section requiring the registered owner of a vehicle rented on a peer-to-peer car sharing platform to park the vehicle on the registered owner’s private property at all times if it is not rented, and not on a public roadway. Picking up and dropping off peer-to-peer car sharing vehicles in a residential area would also be prohibited.
- Amend the Maui Island Plan to include measurable quality of life indicators. Modify the Maui Island Plan by adding indicator milestones to track progress for existing benchmarks focused on monitoring and assessing residents’ quality of life.
- Managed Retreat: Amend the Maui County Code to add a new section that would allow exceptions to temporary housing limits for structures located within the sea level exposure area and strategically relocated and rebuilt outside of the sea level rise exposure area and the Special Management Area .
- Elimination of temporary vacation rentals in various districts. Amending the Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance to eliminate temporary vacation rentals as special uses in different counties and establish new requirements for temporary vacation rentals in different counties.