County officials in Maui are looking to reduce the number of short term rental properties allowed in local neighborhoods, according to reporting from The Maui News.
Maui Planning Commission officials are debating a bill that would cut the number of short term rental permits on the islands of Maui and Lanai from 349 to 278. As of May 26, 212 short-term rental permits exist in the area.
Local residents have previously complained about how short term rentals have changed neighborhoods in the area, and Planning Director Michele McLean said in a February meeting that the council was considering a bill that would ban short-term rentals entirely.
The current rental-reducing bill could be testing the waters and moving toward an eventual complete ban.
How a Short-Term Rental Ban Could Impact Maui
Support for the bill is split between local residents and local realtors/short term rental owners. Examining the issue is difficult, as there isn’t much hard data to go on. Much opposition to short term rentals is based on how a community feels about their existence instead of empirical evidence.
Rental owners have argued that their properties are small businesses, and anything impacting their operation has a detrimental impact on the local economy. They also argue that short term rentals tend to bring in quieter, more respectful families, as opposed to large groups of rowdy tourists attracted by hotels.
County tax revenue is another sticking point to consider. Currently, short term rental properties are priced between $243,000 to $12 million, generating $3.9 million in property taxes. It’s impossible to say how this would change if the properties were reclassified, but it’s possible that the county would see a large drop in revenue.
Lastly, the local economy has been impacted heavily by Covid-19. Short term property rentals employ local residents as properties need to be cleaned, restocked, and maintained between rentals. Reducing the number of jobs available to locals is a difficult prospect at the moment.
This short term rental reduction is similar to other bans across the world. City councils in Portugal have attempted to persuade rental owners to convert units to affordable housing in the face of Covid-19, a move criticized by owners across the country.