Maui Discussion

BREAKING: Mayor Victorino Vetoes Bill 60 on Hotel Construction Moratorium

By Wendy Osher
July 20, 2021, 4:50 PM HST
* Updated July 22, 5:08 AM
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County officials today announced that Maui Mayor Michael Victorino is vetoing Bill 60, the Hotel Construction Moratorium Bill, which was passed by the Maui County Council on July 2, 2021.

“Like you, Mayor Victorino’s administration is deeply concerned about tourism’s sudden return to Maui County and it’s impact on our residents. While we appreciate the hospitality industry’s economic contributions, and the benefits they bring, our residents, our culture, and our natural resources must come first,” said Maui County Managing Director Sandy Baz during a press briefing Tuesday afternoon.

Pandemic photo at Kāʻanapali Beach. (04.13. 2020) Gaylord Paul Garcia for Maui Now.

Under Bill 60, the council sought to impose interim restrictions on new visitor accommodations to allow the County time to implement critical plan action items relating to visitor industry impact on the County’s environment and work towards resilience.

“We are confident we are on our way to developing a better, more thoughtful approach to managing tourism in a way that will improve the experience of both residents and visitors. While the mayor appreciates the council’s intent and sentiment behind Bill 60, he believes it is more important for legislation to be effective and legal than for it to be fast. For these reasons, Mayor Victorino has decided to veto Bill 60,” said Baz.

“The mayor looked at the bill itself and looked at the impacts of it and decided it was something that needed to be vetoed. Whether or not the council overrides that veto is in the council’s purview; and whether or not there are enough votes is really up to the members themselves,” said Baz.

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Maui Hotel and Lodging Association Executive Director Rod Antone responded to the news Tuesday afternoon, saying, “The industry, government and the community must work together to come up with legislation that helps us better manage tourism. Until that happens the MHLA asks our Maui County Councilmembers to support Mayor Victorino’s veto of Bill 60 and not vote to override it.”  

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Managing Director Baz said the mayor does not believe Bill 60 will relieve crowds at Kahului Airport, reduce traffic on Maui’s roadways, or solve the problem of transient vacation rentals operating in neighborhoods. “Bill 60 will simply limit the choice of visitor accommodations in West and South Maui for the next 5-10 years,” said Baz.

Kahului Airport: May 29, 2021. Photo by JD Pells
Kahului Airport: May 29, 2021. Photo by JD Pells

On June 6, Mayor Victorino had said he would be making an announcement regarding Expedia and Air BnB in the coming weeks. He said he was working with the advertising platforms to promote compliance with the short term rental ordnance, which has been a problem for years with Transient Vacation Rentals operating illegally in neighborhoods. He said the partnership will make it more difficult for illegal vacation rentals to hide.  “For tourism to work, it has to benefit both residents and visitors alike,” he said, noting that further information would be revealed in the coming weeks.

Baz said that of greater concern is an unintended consequence of the bill. “It may push construction of new visitor accommodations into communities outside of the planned resort areas of West and South Maui. Bill 60 did not go through the proper reviews required by the County’s Charter and the County’s Corporation Counsel did not sign the bill. Such legal deficiencies pose a significant risk that it will languish in litigation if Bill 60 is allowed to become law,” he said.

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Baz said the County Council is currently working on more complete legislation, intended to limit unchecked development of visitor accommodations throughout the island of Maui.

“The draft bill attached to 21-98 is currently making its way through the legal process required by the County Charter. We have concern that passage of Bill 60 may limit the ability of the Maui County Council to properly enact a more comprehensive island-wide solution as proposed by the bill attached to Resolution 21-98,” he said.

Wendy Osher
Wendy Osher leads the Maui Now news team. She is also the news voice of parent company, Pacific Media Group, having served more than 20 years as News Director for the company’s six Maui radio stations.
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