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Gov. Green gives four-month Maui wildfires update; considers moratorium if there’s not enough participation from short-term rentals : Maui Now

View VIDEO from the governor’s press update. PC: Image grab from press briefing / Office of Gov. Josh Green.

Governor Josh Green M.D. provided a four-month update Friday on Maui’s recovery after the Aug. 8 wildfires.  The update related to housing, short-term rentals, and the One ‘Ohana Initiative. 

Phase One Housing

At the peak after the wildfire, an estimated 12,000 individuals were displaced in Lahaina, according to state officials. “Within 14 days, 7,996 people ended up in hotel rooms,” said Gov. Green during a press conference on Friday morning. “Many of those individuals are still in hotel rooms because we just don’t want anyone to be homeless,” he said.

“We knew that gradually we’d have to get people to a place that was just better for them… the only housing that is truly available is short-term rentals,” said Gov. Green.

According to Gov. Green, Phase 1 is to engage 3,000 short-term rentals, move them over into a long-term rental position, and help individuals be there for two years while other housing, such as ʻohana units, accessory dwelling units, transitional and permanent housing are built.

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Today, the Maui County Council takes up second reading on a bill to give property tax relief to encourage conversion of short-term units into long-term rentals. Gov. Green said this could help people to the tune of thousands of dollars per month.

“Also, we’re going to be offering fair-market value offers to the people that are right now, renting out their properties as short-term rentals. This is through the support of FEMA and the state,” said Gov. Green.

He acknowledged that it would be expensive, but necessary in the short-term.

Ultimately, he said, the plan is to get people into better living situations.

“Leaving people in hotels—and as of yesterday it was 6,297 people still in hotels—it’s extremely expensive, and it’s difficult to live that way for much longer,” said Gov. Green.

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The long-term, after transitional housing is built is to expedite Maui residential projects in the pipeline. “That has to be with the blessing of the Maui County Council [and] the people of Maui. There are always water concerns—that is an ongoing challenge. That’s probably the largest challenge that we have to simply putting up housing,” he said.

Short-Term Rentals

There were an estimated 12,900 people that were displaced in Lahaina, according to the governor’s estimates.

He said, currently on Maui, there’s 2,500-3,000 timeshare units at any given time; and there’s also between 12,000-14,000 short-term rentals.

“Just with those numbers alone, that’s before you consider illegal short-term rentals, you have between 14,500-17,000 homes that are only available in the short-term market. Is that possible for people to rent? No,” said Gov. Green.

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“Right now, the average amount of money that people get from short-term rentals is 352% of the base rent that people would pay… That’s just not consistent with what we can do,” said Gov. Green.

The mayor’s plan involves tax breaks, so some units are moved over into the long-term market. Gov. Green said the government would put some money towards the rentals, but eventually, the plan is to “get out of this mess over time.”

“In my opinion, we have to convert a lot of short-term rentals… Over a two year period we intend to rent 3,000 [short-term] units, and 2,000 of those units will go to the FEMA eligible individuals… Then there’s another 1,000 families that were COFA migrants, that might have been undocumented workers…. It’s that thousand individuals that the state and philanthropists will help pay for,” said Gov. Green.

On Monday, FEMA sent out 13,000 letters to short-term rentals across the county to offer owners to encourage participation in the program.

After Jan. 1, the state should have a better idea of how many owners will participate in the program.

Gov. Green said he would consider a moratorium if there are less than 3,000 engaged before Feb. 1, 2024.

“I do want to be blunt here, if we don’t get people stepping up, I’m going to drop the hammer on short-term rentals that aren’t able to be used by our people. It’s just not okay that we don’t have housing for our local people. And so, I will propose a moratorium on short-term rentals through emergency rules. I’m sure we will face litigation, but I will do it if we don’t get 3,000 units for our people who have been living in hotels—because it’s not civilized to make people wait to get housing after they’ve lost their home in a fire,” said Gov. Green.

“That may be viewed as fairly controversial, [but] not from the perspective from someone in a family of 5-6 people and they’ve been living in a hotel room. They need to be helped, so I’ll do that if necessary,” said Gov. Green.


During the news conference, Gov. Green also appointed Tyson Miyake as the new Maui House Representative member to fill the District 10 vacancy created by the movement of former Rep. Troy Hashimoto to the state Senate. More on that story HERE.

Source: Maui News

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