Gov. Josh Green wants to see 3,000 Maui short-term rental owners transition their properties to longer-term housing for displaced fire survivors.
If that fails to happen in the next few weeks, the governor has said he may use emergency powers to mandate property owners make the switch.
Ken Wills is a realtor and a writer who operates a short-term rental unit on the Big Island. He said that Green’s requirement would be a “draconian” measure.
“I understand the impulse, but I think it’s not fair to everyone. It’s not the right solution and discounts the benefits that a lot of short-term rental unit owners are providing to the islands, to tourists, to the economy,” Wills said.
Wills said he supports short-term rental owners who want to voluntarily transition to offering long-term housing.
“In terms of the immediate problem in Maui, yes, I think it makes sense to ask short-term rental unit owners to contribute. Some of them are able to. Some of them are not,” Wills told The Conversation.
There are a handful of programs through federal and local agencies that will pay Maui property owners to use their vacation rentals for fire survivors.
Wills also thinks that lawmakers should expand tax breaks to incentivize property owners across the islands, not just on Maui, to rent to survivors.
He called for nuance when discussing the wide range of vacation rentals and their owners, instead of lumping everyone into the same category.
This story aired on The Conversation on Jan. 2, 2024. The Conversation airs weekdays at 11 a.m. on HPR-1.