• Thursday, February 27, 2020 4:04 PM | Jen Russo (Administrator)


    The Planning Department needs to hear your input at their meeting!

    Public Meeting on Possible phase-out of Short Term Rental Home permits on Maui

    This is an Informational meeting, opportunity for people to get their remarks on record on: 

    The possible phase-out of STRH permits on Maui

    Friday, March 6, 2020, 3pm

    Maui Planning Department Conference Room

    250 South High Street

    Kalana Pakui Bldg, #200

    Wailuku, Maui, HI 96793

    The Planning Department is in the process of preparing legislation to repeal the STRH ordinance and not renew any STRH permits in the future. Right now, they are soliciting public input on this proposal. It is imperative that EVERYONE either come to this meeting or send in testimony in support of Short Term Rental permits remaining available and about the good that they bring to Maui.

    For those who cannot attend, Please SEND AN EMAIL NO LATER than March 5, 2020 so your voice will be heard.

    for quick reference:,, and Bcc:

    We are asking that everyone also bcc’s us on their written information, so we can also keep track.

    This is a chance to let the Planning Department know what your remarks would be on their proposed phase-out of short term rental home permits.

    We encourage everyone who works in the industry to attend this meeting. Please to let their managers and other small business people that they work with, like housekeepers, landscapers, and such, know. It would be useful for the department to hear from people who make their living this way. Perhaps the most valuable testimony would come from the neighbors of your short term rental. If your neighbor is in support of your rental, because you make a nice neighbor to have. Then please ask them to tell the Planning Department so.

    The Planning Department is asking for our feedback on how these jobs are valuable to the small business community, and how people who choose to have a small business in this manner do so because it has advantages over having a job at the hotels. 

    Here are some other important talking points that you can use in your testimony:

    • Permits are not transferable and Applicants must own property for five years before making an application to ensure that STRHs can NEVER have any impact on housing prices or availability of housing for residential uses. This has been definitively proven in that less than 1/2 of 1 percent of houses sold in the past 8 years have been issued STRH permits. Permitted STRHs have never impacted housing availability or costs.
    • One important point is that the STR homes tend to be higher end homes. Without an STR permit, they will simply sit empty as they are “second homes”, not “investment homes”. Most of these owners spend 1 to 5 months of the year in Maui, so these will never convert to long term housing. Rather than being empty, they are providing jobs for managers, agents, housekeepers etc. These are jobs that allow residents to live/work within their community, which is a goal of our community plan. As an example, the housekeepers that we use in Haiku / Paia have no desire to travel to Wailea or Kaanapali every day.  
    • The permitted homes have proven that they can blend into their communities, with almost NO complaints.  
    • This is the future of our visitor industry. Hyatt and Marriott are both getting into the short term rental business, forming alliances or making purchases to give them access to homes and condos. Many hotel brands are investing in timeshare kinds of buildings. 
    • With the promise of being able to operate legally, homeowners made the requested modifications, etc to their properties, some at great expense. It is extremely unfair and unethical to say “well we said you could, but now we changed our minds.
    • If the department is concerned about the work load to renew 250 permits (approx. 50 renewals each year), then revise the ordinance to say that permits will remain in effect until a) the property is sold, b) “x” valid neighbor complaints, c) property is not being operated in accordance with the provisions of 19.65.
    • 229 STR's are not changing communities. People buying second homes where long term families lived, is changing the neighborhoods. Those numbers are closer to 8000 or higher.
    • The median earner in Hawaii can't afford the median priced home. Until this is solved, our neighborhoods are changing and 229 STR's have virtually nothing to do with this.
    • We need to give the department more information on the difference between running your own housekeeping business, versus working for the resorts as a full-time housekeeper employee which is around $14.10/hour average according to Indeed job placement website.

    Let me know if you have any questions.


    Jen Russo

    Executive Director


    Find our full newsletter info here: 

  • Friday, February 14, 2020 7:48 PM | Jen Russo (Administrator)

    The Maui County Planning Department has said they are thinking about creating a plan to phase out all short term rental homes. 

    “The idea is to phase-out STRHs over a longer period of time than is being done for Molokai. Let them expire when they expire but no more renewals. We need to see what the industry and community feedback is. Depending on that, we may (or may not) draft a bill and take it through commissions and then to Council.” - Michelle McLean, Director of Planning, Maui County.

    We will be meeting with the planning department next week about this idea. There are about 50% of the existing permits that need to be renewed this year and next.

    We need to grow support for the “Good Guys” who have gotten permits and are paying the huge tax bills that allows local residents to have low taxes. 

    We have to shed light on the issue of illegal short term rentals and the second homeowners who buy up housing at a rate ten or twenty times greater than permitted Short term rentals and pay the lower tax rates. When people say that their neighborhood has changed because of short term rentals, let's ask them, "Which permitted, short term rental has changed your neighborhood? How?" Likely the addition of so many off-island owners who use their homes as second homes, has had a stronger hand in making that impression on people in the neighborhood.

    This message must come from hundreds of people on all forms of media. But we also must be prepared for the push back from the uninformed who don’t understand the numbers, like:

    Maui has 45,000 single family dwellings yet only 250 of these are legally permitted short term rentals. Some of these short term rentals pay more than $100,000/year in property tax. Yet

    Maui county has somewhere between 2500 and 5000 second homes that are not rented out long term and “might” be rented Illegally short term.

    This is what you need to do: 

    All STRH permit holders should understand that their permits are currently under threat. Not new permits, but all existing permits may not be renewed, should a proposal, currently in the state of being drafted by the planning department, be adopted. 


    Every permit holder must be prepared to participate in the upcoming fight. If you can write letters to the editor, start writing. If you can donate money towards a legal fund, start writing checks. If you can influence decision-makers, start talking. We need the public and the decision makers more aware that we are the good guys. We are the legal permitted industry that pay taxes twice what we would pay without our permits. We are the short term rentals who operate responsibly with professional on-island managers, occupancy limits, parking requirements, no party rules and a host of rules designed to protect the peace in neighborhoods.


    MVRA cannot take on this battle alone!  We need your membership NOW! If you want to be kept up to date on government actions with our newsletters. JOIN NOW!


    {Join Now}


    If you prefer to mail your membership dues, send checks to MVRA to 140 Hoohana St. Suite 210, Kahului, HI, 96732. 


    LET US KNOW if you would be interested in organizing an STRH tour for council members, or if you are good at writing press releases, or if you can do graphic design, or  if you would like to organize a Habitat for Humanity / MVRA event, or think you could be helpful in creating info for our website repository for guests and members with Cultural History, Hawaiian Culture, Ocean Safety, Environmental Awareness, etc.

  • Wednesday, February 12, 2020 8:29 PM | Jen Russo (Administrator)


    The Maui Planning Department has released their 2019 enforcement report.

    Maui County Transient Vacation Rental Enforcement 2019 Summary

    In 2019 quarters 1 through 4, ZAED Inspectors issued more than 180 Notices of Warning and more than 80 Notices of Violation.

    The Notices of Violation have resulted in ZAED collecting $50,000.00 in fines from TVR violations issued throughout the 2019 calendar year, with others still pending or being litigated that total in excess of $300,000.00 in additional fines.

    At the end of 2019, there were 379 permitted STRH and B&B homes, making the highest possible total of illegal properties being 230‐304.  A total of 1,217 non‐exempt ads, assuming each property lists on 2 platforms, indicates 609 properties; subtracting 379 permitted operations leaves 230 non‐compliant properties.    Assuming an average of 3 platforms per property results in approximately 27 unique properties illegally advertising at the end of 2019.

    How do you feel? Do you get the sense that illegal operations have ceased in your neighborhoods?

    Comment here or send an email to

  • Friday, February 07, 2020 8:24 PM | Jen Russo (Administrator)

    We had a great turnout for our annual meeting. Thank you to everyone who came out on this rainy night to attend. We like seeing you! A big mahalo to Boardmember Michael Baskins for donating the catering from Surf Club Tacos, the food was incredible, the service was commendable. To experience more Surf Club Tacos please go to 65 Hana Hwy, Paia, HI, 96779, 808-579-3333 ,

    MVRA Annual Report 2020

    February 6, 2020

    Major Accomplishments

    1. MVRA lived another year – four out of five board members were new

    2. Hired and Trained, Executive Director, Jen Russo

    3. Created and Launched new Website –

    4. 19 STR permits granted, 29 B&B permits granted

      1. Total: 229 STR permits, 156 B&B permits

      2. Total net difference from 2018 to 2019: 7 STR permits and 17 B&B permits - What this means is 14 B&B permits and 12 STRH permits were closed out, not renewed or expired without renewing during 2019. 

    5. Published newsletters and updates to membership

    6. Created private Facebook group page and MVRA Facebook page

    7. Advocacy, Testimony, Meetings, Alliances

      1. 9 County Council meetings

      2. All Planning Commission meetings either attended in person or reviewed video/tape record

      3. 12 Testimonies presented in person or written in

      4. 6 County Council meetings attended

      5. 1 Board of Variances and Appeals attended

      6. 1 Annual Community Council of Maui meeting attended and presented

      7. 1 Meeting with AirBnB, 1 presentation at Community Council of Maui

      8. 4 Planning Committee meetings attended

      9. All Community Plan meetings attended or reviewed

      10. 2 Mayor’s Press Conferences attended

      11. 4 Community Association meetings attended.

      12. 10 MVRA Board meetings

    8. Went from 0 to 60 paying members

    9. Helped to keep Paia/Haiku STR’s renewable and existing applications (already in the pipeline) viable

    10. Helped to lessen property tax rate increase from proposed $15/$1000 assessed value to $10.

    Unsuccessful Endeavors

    1. New rule instituted mandating renewal applications be submitted 60 days or more prior to permit expiration date. 

    2. Reduced cap for STR permits in Paia/Haiku area from 88 to 55

    3. Lost ability to apply for STR permit within the Shoreline Management Area in Paia/Haiku district.

    4. Molokai passage through Planning Committee (by unanimous vote) of an STR cap of Zero, and a sunset for existing permits in as few as 90 days. First Reading at full Council, tomorrow (Friday). 

    Goals for 2020

    1. Modify or stop current and near future legislation threatening existing STR renewals

    2. Modify or stop reduction of STR’s in the Lahaina Historic District to zero  

    3. Set up Tour of STR’s and B&B’s for Council Members, Mayor

    4. Continue meeting with legislative representatives, Mayor, Planning

    5. Engage Kupuna in every district

    6. Investigate legality of current and proposed legislation that may threaten STR renew-ability

    7. Be a pro-active voice in CPAC (Community Plan) process

    8. Advocate for less bureaucracy by opposing the creation of Community Advisory Committees to the Planning Commission

    9. Continue to create a repository (on website) for member and guest use:

      1. Maui Cultural / Historical education

      2. Environmental education and tips

      3. Ocean Safety

      4. Local Customs

    10. Be the authority on STR and B&B data

      1. Taxes remitted by district

      2. Actual number of bedrooms/units offered

      3. Send press releases to news outlets

    Financial Report : Members: Contact me at to request pdfs of the Profit and Loss and Balance Sheet

    Elections - Same Board Members for the next year

    Discussion points and suggestions from the meeting:

    • 4000-8000 second homes that may look like vacation rental use as owners and their families utilize the home.

    • We need to dispel the myth that vacation rental homes are creating a housing issue, when most of these homes will not convert to housing;

    • Public relations about safety, community and other benefits of vacation rentals

    • Create a free affiliate level of membership for the employees of vacation rentals, like the handymen, housekeepers, and landscapers. To expand the membership to build a coalition of people that the changes to the vacation rental laws would be affected.

    • Use social media to get our messages across

    • Create ads on social media that say the dollar amounts of how much the RPT tax totals are

    • Letters to the editor campaign: Have people to write letters to the editor

    • Public opinion: opposers of the vacation rental industry do not care about the economics, they care about the culture. Honor their history and their feelings

    • Create a scholarship fund for Native Hawaiians

    • Do a PR spread on Bed and Breakfast and Short Term Rental Homes

    • Do more events throughout the year

    • Let people report issues in their neighborhoods to MVRA, and have MVRA file RFS with planning

  • Monday, January 27, 2020 9:46 AM | Jen Russo (Administrator)

    Honorable Tamara Paltin, Chair

    Maui County Planning and Sustainable Land Use Committee

    Council of the County of Maui 

    Wailuku, Hawaii 96793

    RE: Proposed Bill PSLU-21 CC 17-173

    Dear Committee Chair Tamara Paltin and Planning and Sustainable Land Use Committee Members,


    A component in the Molokai Community Plan adopted in 2018 is that collaboration between community, government, and landowners is needed for the future of Molokai, its people and its culture (page 23). This kind of collaboration will start with good policy. 

    Another important action outlined in the Molokai Community Plan is the expansion of complementary tourism markets, supporting limited growth of alternative lodging units, and support increased enforcement of the STRH ordinance. The Planning Department just started its new enforcement fines on December 22, 2019. These other two items, join several others in the list of goals for a stable, balanced, diversified, and sustainable economy, respecting cultural and natural resources, that is compatible with Moloka'i's rural island lifestyle (page 65).

    I am not comfortable with the idea of phasing out Legally permitted vacation rentals on Molokai, and what this committee is putting forth in this bill seems to contradict what was outlined in the community plan.  In the last ten years, the County has worked so hard on the permitting process for legal rentals and 18 individuals have invested in good faith to obtain legal permits on Molokai. Existing permit holders should be allowed to renew. 

    Current Single-Family Housing Stock on Molokai is 2632 Single Family Units (Molokai Community Plan 2018 page 86), and of the 18 permits there are 20 dwellings, this is less than 1% of the housing on the island. This is not too much. This is in line with the goals set forth in the community plan. These permitted homes paid $154,349 in real property taxes in 2019, an increase of nearly $40,000 from 2018. These are important funds for the Molokai community and the county. Median nightly rental rates for these properties range from about $265 in Central Molokai to $376 in East Molokai to $613 on the West End.

    It would be a disservice to the community, to the goals set forth in the community plan, to set the cap to zero. These homes have attract visitors that spend a high dollar amount while on vacation as well as providing the highest economic benefit to local residents in the way of property managers, cleaners, landscapers, and concierge services providers, as well as supporting the complementary tourism markets like fishing, hiking, and hunting tours, just to name a few. Please set the cap to allow the existing homes to remain. 


    If complaints are a problem, perhaps this body could request a part-time inspector to reside on Molokai. And, neighbors also have the ability to have register complaints with the County. There have not been any complaints registered in 2019 on the current permit holders, the complaints that were registered in 2018 and earlier that involved certain permits were addressed. 


    The legalization of short term rental homes has helped to meet an established need for our tourism industry, allowing a small business to flourish. The permitting process was created to regulate and limit short term rentals in the community. Phasing out the permitted operations will leave Molokai open to more illegal operations, who will not pay the higher tax rates applied to permitted operations.


    There is a demand for a limited number of short term rental homes on Molokai. Moreover, there has been significant investment from the Maui County budget 2019 towards Molokai tourism. 


    The individuals that have gone through considerable effort and expense to be legally granted a permit show that they want to work with the community and believe that they have made the best efforts to invest in tourism in Molokai through the legal process. They do not believe that this committee should be considering that they should be giving up this land use right that they have paid so much to obtain through the county’s permitting process, as well as work with the community to obtain. 


    We absolutely want enforcement of those operating without permits or those violating the terms of their permit. However revoking a permit that has never had any issues, or not letting them renew a permit that was legally obtained should not be something that this committee is supporting. It is detrimental to the community of Molokai, against the goals of the community plan and further punishing a small business operating to the best of their ability to benefit this community. It also punishes those that are currently working at the vacation rentals or the businesses that rely on the visitors that stay at them.

    We want the community of Molokai to thrive. We want to support the rural subsistence lifestyle that is here, and we want to support the kind of tourism that the community needs. We feel that the limited Short Term Rental homes available on the island is a critical part of the community. We do not support capping them out to zero.


    Thank you for considering my testimony


    Jen Russo

    Executive Director

    Maui Vacation Rental Association

  • Wednesday, January 22, 2020 12:54 PM | Jen Russo (Administrator)

    The Planning Department’s new fines for illegal operation of short term rentals, transient vacation rentals and bed and breakfast are in effect as of December 22, 2019. The new fines are $20,000 for an initial fine for a notice of violation, with daily fines accruing at $10,000 a day. I have seen an uptick in the request for service logs in the Planning Department, there were a total of 16 in December of 2019, we are at 23 as of today already in January 2020. 

    The Planning Department says 5 Notice of Warnings have gone out so far. What that means is those receiving a warning have 7 days to act to stop operations. If not the Notice of Violation will go out that will include the fines. 

    I am keeping track of the RFS numbers, and will keep reporting back on information on the new system of fines. I am hoping we will see a reduction in illegal short term rental activity. Please let me know if this is the case for your neighborhood. Or if you would like more information please email or call me at 808-280-3286.

  • Monday, January 20, 2020 12:51 PM | Jen Russo (Administrator)

    Your Mana’o is needed in West Maui

    The West Maui Community Plan Advisory Committee (CPAC) is considering phasing out Vacation Rentals in the Lahaina Historic District. You may think, ‘well my vacation rental is not in the historic district.’ However they are also suggesting expanding the historic district from Shaw Street to the gates at Puamana.

    We know the committee has a lot of pressure to try to assist affordable housing in Lahaina, however, phasing out the legal vacation rentals will probably not open up the kind of housing the west side community needs so badly. We know vacation rentals serve an important part of the visitor industry on the west side, diversifies the tourism economy, and creates walkable access for the visitors to the Lahaina Historic district. 

    There are a lot of communities across the world that have figured out how to benefit from having vacation rentals in their historic districts. It can be a win-win.

    The CPAC is also considering a halt of all short term rental home permits, hotel expansions and new hotels until the supply of residential housing units exceeds the supply of visitor units. In their Economic Opportunity through Innovation section of policies. Again we see the desperate need for housing units, but this does not feel like innovation.

    I will be sending out more sample testimony shortly. If you have questions about this proposed language please feel free to email me. If you wish to reach the West Maui Community Plan Advisory Committee please email

  • Friday, January 17, 2020 3:31 PM | Jen Russo (Administrator)

    The next Planning and Sustainable Land Use meeting will be held in Molokai on January 28, 2020. 5pm. The committee is putting forth Proposed Bill PSLU-21 CC 17-173 - from Council Vice-Chair 01-14-2020, setting the Molokai cap to Zero. The proposed bill would allow current permit holders to maintain their permits until they expire. Furthermore, certain permits would be eligible for a 90-day renewal. These situations are:

    The permit expires within 90 days of the effective date of this bill; or

    The permit expires no later than 90 days after the effective of the bill and an application for that permit’s renewal was received prior to the effective date of the bill.

    upcoming meeting agenda

    The bill does not address new permit applications in process. However, aside from the 90-day renewal provisions, no new permits would be allowed on Molokai if the bill goes into effect. 

    Why this is important to you

    Every Molokai STRH permit holder, property manager, and ancillary supplier and tertiary businesses should be at this meeting on January 28 to protect their own interests.  

    It is possible the language on the bill that indicates permits could be denied the renewal process could be challenged in courts.

    Even if your own permit is on Maui not Molokai, please consider sending testimony. We do not want precedents set for community plan capping of short term rentals to zero. Recent comments in the Planning and Sustainable Land Use meetings indicate plans to reduce caps in other regions. Let them know how vacation rentals are important to you and the island.

    I will be sending sample testimony shortly. If you have questions about this proposed bill please feel free to email me. If you wish to reach the Planning and Sustainable Land Use Committee please email

  • Saturday, May 04, 2019 2:33 AM | Jen Russo (Administrator)

    Hawaii Senate passed Bill 1292 in a 13 to 12 vote. The bill allows AirBnB to collect TAT and GET taxes on behalf of its hosts. The bill goes to Governor Ige for consideration next. There was a lot of pressure in the senate to pass this bill to access the $46 billion in estimated revenue.

    The governor has turned down this bill before, which does not differentiate between legal and illegal rentals. Some have criticised this bill as a de-facto way of legalizing illegal short term rentals because Airbnb is not required to report taxes with names and addresses. It remains to be seen exactly how that would work for permitted hosts having the service collect their GET and TAT taxes.

    While Oahu struggles with short term rental legislation, Maui has a sanctioned and legit Short Term rental and Bed and Breakfast industry. It may not be in Airbnb’s interests to focus on our legal permitted system, yet they continue to be a leader in the marketing aspect of short term rentals. I would like to see our permitted industry, while not perfect, set as an example for the state.

    For members that utilize AirBnb and want a way to collect taxes directly from guests AirBnb has said they have a tool available that you can turn on in professional hosting tools. More information here:

    Let me know if you utilize this tool and how it is working for you. If you haven't joined Maui Vacation Rental Association yet, please take a moment to become a member we would love to have you!

  • Thursday, May 02, 2019 3:26 PM | Jen Russo (Administrator)

    Yep We Still Have Rat Lungworm

    An unfortunate case of Rat Lungworm was recently reported in Alaska related to a woman who had vacationed in Hawaii. Please continue to keep your guests informed and updated on proper care for consumption of raw veggies. I have included a few hand outs here that may be useful for posting in kitchens or including in welcome packets. The woman in Alaska is reported to be ok. The bottom line is Rat Lungworm is not going anywhere, but it's not the end of the world, or eating fresh vegetables. The best way to deal with it is to keep people educated on safety and how to avoid getting it. I am including some reference material here to assist. If you have any questions let me know.

    For more information and other reference information into the Rat Lungworm see this article:

    If you want to be kept up to date on news affecting your guests and you are not a member of Maui Vacation Rental Association please take a moment to join us!

    to download the document above click on the link below:

    produce cleaning.pdf

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