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Hawaii counties have more influence over short-term rentals amid the housing crisis following the Maui wildfires

Hawaii Gov. Josh Green signed a bill that would give counties more authority to regulate short-term vacation rentals amid the state's ongoing housing crisis and the fallout from the Maui wildfires.

Now, one day after the bill was signed, local advocates from Lāhainā Strong are joining the Maui County mayor Richard Bissen to announce a new policy aimed at regulating and phasing out “thousands of temporary vacation rentals that have not gone through the traditional approval process.”

The August 2023 Maui wildfires exacerbated the island's housing crisis, burning thousands of buildings and displacing thousands of residents.

Residents have long complained about the impact of tourism and luxury property and resort development on housing accessibility, as well as the lack of affordable housing and rental properties for residents.

PHOTO: Hawaii Governor Josh Green speaks during a press conference about the destruction of historic Lahaina and the aftermath of the western Maui wildfires in Wailuku, Hawaii, August 10, 2023. (Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images , FILE)

PHOTO: Hawaii Governor Josh Green speaks during a press conference about the destruction of historic Lahaina and the aftermath of the western Maui wildfires in Wailuku, Hawaii, August 10, 2023. (Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images , FILE)

MORE: Maui wildfire survivors face mental health crisis months after tragedy

In Lahaina, 25% of the region's housing units are listed as short-term rentals, according to the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization. South of Lahaina, that percentage increases to 41.8%. In the north it rises to 87%.

Hawaii residents also have some of the highest housing costs in the country — about 2.7 times higher than the national average, according to the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization.

PHOTO: A person plays golf on the first day of tourism resumption in West Maui, two months after a devastating wildfire, on October 8, 2023 near Lahaina, Hawaii.  (Mario Tama/Getty Images, FILE)PHOTO: A person plays golf on the first day of tourism resumption in West Maui, two months after a devastating wildfire, on October 8, 2023 near Lahaina, Hawaii.  (Mario Tama/Getty Images, FILE)

PHOTO: A person plays golf on the first day of tourism resumption in West Maui, two months after a devastating wildfire, on October 8, 2023 near Lahaina, Hawaii. (Mario Tama/Getty Images, FILE)

MORE: Cause and origin of deadly Maui fire still unknown months later

In Maui, Mayor Bissen announced Thursday that he has directed planning commissions to consider phasing out and banning the use of transient vacation rentals in the Apartment District, eliminating condominiums, apartments and planned developments that are not hotels , can be used as short-term rentals without any state or regional permit.

“This was achieved through the struggle of our grassroots movement that brought the opportunity and need to address our Maui vacation rental crisis into the dialogue through tireless advocacy, public education, community organizing – and even a 174-day occupation of Kā “anapali Beach,” said Jordan Ruidas, founder and campaign coordinator of Lāhainā Strong.

“Now we call on the Maui County Planning Commissions and County Council to quickly join us in ensuring dignified housing for fire survivors and returning our communities to local people.”

Hawaii counties are getting more influence over short-term rentals amid the housing crisis following the Maui wildfires. Originally published on abcnews.go.com

Anna Harden

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