BREAKING: Mayor Bissen Announces Consideration of Conversion of Short-Term Rentals to House Fire Survivors
Announcement at Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement (CNHA) Convention comes less than one week after Lāhainā Strong Hui launches “Fish-in for Dignified Housing” at Ka‘anapali and following direct advocacy from CNHA, Lāhainā Strong, and others [LINK TO VIDEO]
CLUE: 'Minatoya List' short-term rentals are condotels competing with the ILWU-controlled hotels. That is why they are being targeted.
SA: "A wholesale conversion of 'Minatoya' STRs may be legally fraught"
News Release from Lāhainā Strong Hui, Nov 17, 2023
KAHULUI, HI — On Thursday November 16th, 2023, at a high profile panel on Hawai‘i’s housing crisis at the Council For Native Hawaiian’s Annual Convention, featuring mayors from all four counties, Mayor Bissen publicly announced his that his administration is actively working towards the conversion of short-term rentals to long-term rentals to provide dignified interim housing for displaced fire survivors, the core demand of the Lāhainā Strong Hui’s “Fish-in for Housing” launched at Ka‘anapali last Friday. Specifically, he said they are working to encourage “voluntary compliance” from the industry, but will consider using his executive authority if necessary to provide the needed stability to families with our existing housing stock.
In Mayor Bissen’s own words [LINK TO VIDEO, remarks begin at 35:32]:
“Government can take from one and give to another, we can do that, we’ve been working on that. What the County is seeking is voluntary compliance from the industry to donate the rooms or the homes, the stuff that we need. That’s the first thing, is to ask, ‘Can you turn your units into that?’ Now if they say, ‘no,’ then we have the option that has been talked about. It’s not that we don’t understand the option or we’re not aware of the option, the question is, ‘when do you…make that call?’”
This announcement of the Mayor exploring conversion of short-term rentals to long-term rentals comes less than a week after the 28 grassroots community groups of the Lāhainā Strong Hui publicly issued this demand to provide immediate dignified interim housing to fire survivors using the existing housing stock. It also comes the day after Mayor Bissen and Lāhainā Strong core organizer Paele Kiakona gave back to back keynote speeches at the CNHA Convention, where Kiakona asked for the community’s support for the demand to the Mayor. The Mayor’s announcement was also in direct response to a presentation from CNHA Director of Data and Technology and Maui Hale Match founder Matt Jachowski’s presentation on how the stock of short-term rentals and empty homes is the solution to Maui’s housing crisis.
“Mayor Bissen’s words are a major victory that show both that he is willing to listen to community, and the power of our community coming together as one to make our demands for dignity heard” said Lāhainā Strong Advocacy & Communications Coordinator Paele Kiakona (IQ Test: Who's your daddy?) in response to the announcement. “Now, with the holidays approaching, we need Mayor Bissen to act on those words and translate them into action by delivering a pathway to housing security and peace of mind for our people.”
Echoing his Thursday remarks at CNHA Convention immediately before Mayor Bissen’s panel, CNHA Director of Data and Technology Matt Jachowski added, “On Maui there’s only one answer—our long term rental supply is tapped out. With over 3,500 displaced families in need of housing stability, our only option is to convert just 15% of Maui's more than 24,000 short-term rentals and second homes into long-term rentals, at least for the next few years until more housing is built.”
Last Friday at a press conference at the Kā‘anapali Beach Access on the three month mark after the devastating Lāhainā wildfires, the Lāhainā Strong Hui, made up of an initial 28 organizations rooted in West Maui, launched a “Fish-In For Dignified Housing,” announcing their intent for a community fishing presence at the Whalers Village Kā‘anapali Beach tourist destination until their demands for dignified long-term housing solutions are met:
- Converting the West Maui short-term rental properties on the Minatoya List into long-term rentals;
- Extending protections for renters against rental increases and evictions for at least a year; and
- Pushing for an immediate mortgage deferral for all homes completely lost in the fire, and back end mortgage abatement of all properties that are not engaged in short term rentals.
The urgency of these demands are underscored by the fact that there is an impending sheltering crisis, as some hotel contracts with the Red Cross are set to expire on November 30 and January 31, with little communicated by the County on what the status of these contracts is and what solutions exist for more stable and dignified housing, leaving thousands of families currently housed in the hotels just across the way from the beach in a state of uncertainty.
There is an immediate, viable, solution that utilizes our current housing stock to house many of the thousands of people displaced in a dignified way, allowing them access to kitchens, laundry, space to live, beds, a roof over their heads, and the peace of mind knowing that they will not be evicted or have to pack up again in a few weeks to their next location. This dignity and security will allow Lāhainā to truly heal, and allow our community and economy to begin getting back on its feet.
Using the emergency powers rightfully available to the Mayor after the August 8th fires, they have the power to convert the thousands of Transient Vacation Rentals and Short Term Rentals on the West Side into Long Term Rentals, and continue and enhance the controls on rent to ensure affordability to our residents and relief agencies.
This authority is granted under HRS 127A-12(c), (4) and (6):
(c) The mayor may exercise the following powers pertaining to emergency management:
(4) Utilize all services, materials, and facilities of nongovernmental agencies, relief organizations, community associations, and other private-sector and nonprofit organizations that may be made available;
(6) Purchase, make, produce, construct, rent, lease, or procure by condemnation or otherwise, transport, store, install, maintain, and insure, repair, renovate, restore, replace or reconstruct, and distribute, furnish or otherwise dispose of, with or without charges, materials and facilities for emergency management; and to procure federal aid therefore whenever feasible.
The community leaders intend to continue their peaceful “Fish-In” and exercise of customary and traditional rights to draw attention to the long-term housing crisis facing thousands of residents until dignified long-term housing is secured.
Lāhainā Strong Hui is a growing coalition of 28 organizations working for a recovery that puts kama‘āina and local need over corporate greed, and prioritizes restoration of ‘āina and wai. It is led by Lahaina Strong, Kakoo Haleakala, Save Honolua, Kaibigan ng Lāhaina, Nā ‘Aikāne o Maui, Ka Malu O Kahalawai, Maui Housing Hui, Maui Medic Healers Hui, Maui Hale Match, Tagnawa, Roots Reborn, Kahana Canoe Club, Napili Canoe Club, Lahaina Canoe Club, Save Kaanapali, Rebuild Maui, Malama Olowalu, Malama Na Pua O Haumea, Napili Noho Hub, Na Leo Kako’o, Maui Rescue Mission, Maui Nui Resiliency Hui, Hui O Kuapā, Tuf Hawaii, Maui Rapid Response, West Maui Preservation Association, Na Papa’i Wawae ‘Ula’ula, and Polanui Hiu.
KHON: Mayor Bissen to consider conversion of short to long-term rentals to house fire survivors | KHON2
F: The Governor And Mayor Just Proposed Getting Rid Of Short-Term Vacation Rentals On Maui (forbes.com)