Maui News

Pāʻia Vacation Rental Owner Fined $500,000 by Planning Dept.

July 31, 2015, 12:34 PM HST
* Updated July 31, 3:43 PM
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Pāʻia, Maui. Photo by Victoria Hoag.

Pāʻia, Maui. File photo by Victoria Hoag.

By Maui Now Staff

The Maui Department of Planning has levied fines totaling half a million dollars against the owner and operator of three vacation rentals in Pāʻia.

County officials released details today saying this is the largest fine in the history of the department, resulting from numerous violations of the Short Term Rental Home, Special Management Area, zoning and building codes laws.

The county issued a total of 30 Notices of Violation against Michael Baskin, some of which include the following alleged violations:

  • Converting garages and a shed to short-term rental rooms;
  • Renting more rooms than his permits allows;
  • Building a parking lot with no permits;
  • Building an enclosure that together housed a propane tank and a water heater; and
  • Constructing building additions with no permits.

In addition to the violation notifications, the Planning Department also revoked two short-term rental home permits and did not renew another for alleged misrepresentations made in the applications.

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County officials say the department launched an investigation into the Pāʻia Inn in May 2013 as a result of complaints. After several site inspections, county officials say they discovered numerous SMA, zoning, permit and building code violations.

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Since then, county officials say they have attempted to settle the matter with Baskin in court and through mediation.

“We are pleased to have resolved our differences with the county after more than two years, and to be able to put this matter behind us,” said Baskin. “Although the most recent Hawai‘i Supreme Court decision was in our favor, and stayed the county’s injunction against our business, we felt it was in everyone’s best interest to put this matter to rest.”

“We applied for and received three of the very first vacation rental permits issued in Maui County,” said Baskin. “We did our best to comply with what was a brand new ordinance at the time. Many still find the application process confusing and misleading.”

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Baskin added that many short-term vacation property owners simply ignore the process, because is it difficult to understand and comply with.

“Even now, the county is attempting to amend the application process,” Baskin said.

“We respectfully disagree with the county’s claims and actions in this case; our settlement agreement includes a statement that there was no admission of  wrongdoing on our part,” said Baskin. “With the exception of a gazebo, everything we received violations for existed on the properties when they were inspected and approved for short-term rental use. In addition, some of the violations cited by the county involved work that we did not do; some involved buildings and improvements that existed long before we owned the properties; other violations were minor, such as small plastic storage sheds on the property.”

“We have worked diligently with the county and responded to all of their requests,” said Baskin. “All of the violations that were issued have been remediated and we have received long-term extensions on all our vacation rental permits.”

“I feel that most of the community recognizes our valuable contributions and appreciates our wonderful employees,” concluded Baskin. “We are proud of the work we do and our reputation, and we intend to remain a valued and responsible member of our community for many years to come.”

Mayor Alan Arakawa and Maui County Council members have agreed to fine Baskin $500,000, to be paid in two installments. They are also seeking the removal of all illegal structures or want Baskin to obtain after-the-fact permits for those structures which can be made legal.

An additional $500,000 fine will be triggered if any terms of the agreement are violated, county officials said.

“We are pleased that this two-year process is complete and we can move to other phases,” said Planning Director Will Spence in a county-issued press release. “The Planning Department wants to help all of our residents and businesses meet county codes and standards, but in turn, they need to work with us and follow county rules and regulations as well. These rules are there to protect our environment and the populace, and they must be followed.”

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