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Bissen proposes ban on West Maui vacation rentals

Maui Mayor Richard Bissen plans to take advantage of a newly passed state bill awaiting Gov. Josh Green’s signature to seek to phase out 2,200 vacation rentals in West Maui apartment districts by July 1, 2025 — and eventually all 7,000 units in apartment districts across Maui.

Bissen’s bill first will have to go before the County Planning Commission and then the full County Council where Councilmember Kani Rawlins-Fernandez said today that she expects her colleagues to pass it.

The rental units were originally designed as workforce housing and transitioned over the decades into lucrative vacation rentals that few working residents can afford, especially following the devastating Aug. 8 wildfires that exacerbated Maui’s shortage of affordable housing.

“It’s important to note that most, if not all of these, TVRs (transient vacation rentals) impacted by this legislation were previously built and designed for workforce housing in West Maui and our goal is to return them to their intended purpose,” Bissen said at a press conference today.

Bissen, a former judge, expects legal challenges. But Senate Bill 2919, which passed final approval in the House of Representatives Wednesday — and is expected to be signed into law Friday by Green — will bolster the county’s arguments defending a ban, Bissen said.

The bill gives counties clear authority to regulate vacation rentals, including the ability to ban them.

Owners will be faced with converting their units for long-term use or selling them, hopefully to local residents, Bissen said.

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