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LETTERS for February 6 issue

By Staff | Feb 6, 2014

Why rents are rising on Maui

I’m paying $1,000 a month to live in a tiny studio on the West Side of Maui. This is comparable to rent in New York City, except that gas and groceries are cheaper in New York. Why is rent going up on Maui?

Ask most people and they’ll say, “Landlords are just too greedy on Maui.” But landlords are greedy all over the world, and they have been since the dawn of time. It must be something else.

In 2006, the County Council of Maui enacted the “Workforce Housing Policy,” which was supposed to increase housing for residents, but did exactly the opposite. The law says that anyone who wants to build an apartment must make 50 percent of it affordable housing. Sounds good, doesn’t it?

But not if you are a developer. Under the 50 percent rule, it’s unprofitable for developers to build any apartments at all – especially if half their renters qualify as affordable. So developers just decide not to build any apartments at all.

A real estate expert on Maui said, “It’s a classic case of a well-intended law meeting the law of unintended consequences. I’ve been told by developers that between the red tape and inconsistencies with the permitting process, and the ‘affordable housing’ requirements, many of the developers have elected to build elsewhere.”

David Cailles, a law professor at U.H. Manoa, said, “It makes more financial sense for a landowner to build relatively expensive condominium apartments for sale than apartments for rent… only the most expensive projects could afford such high percentages of workforce housing.”

Another reason that apartments on Maui are so expensive is zoning. Apartments can only be built in apartment zones. It could take more than ten years just to get approval for an apartment building on Maui; and, after all that waiting, it might not be approved.

No wonder rent is rising on Maui.

One landlord said, “I would also add that due to the high prices of mortgages, property taxes, condo association fees, repairs, upgrades and utilities, we as landlords have no choice but to rent out our properties as vacation rentals. Either that or go broke. I would like nothing better than to rent to one party for a long-term rental. Unfortunately, market forces will not allow that to happen. It leaves the Maui residents in a lousy predicament.”

Getting rid of the zoning requirements, and especially the 50 percent “Workforce Housing Policy,” would do wonders for lowering rents across Maui. Without all those restrictions, developers might find it profitable to build enough apartments to compete again. Rents would fall, and locals might actually have a place to live again.

The apartment complex that I live in, Sunset Terrace, houses 288 rentals on just a tiny six acres of land. For another six acres, that could be doubled, and rent would fall. This would only take up .00001 percent of Maui.

To summarize, rent is high on Maui because of strict zoning laws and the “Workforce Housing Policy.” Getting rid of these laws would result in lower rents and higher apartment quality.

JOE KENT, Maui Libertarian Party


A Cup of Cold Water offers hope and love

A Cup of Cold Water, a shared Ministry Care Van of the Episcopal Churches on Maui and community partners, completed our first two-and-a-half months of operations and issued a 2013 report.

Our key “program measure” is that we served, loved, listened, touched, smiled and offered hope, nourishment, clothing, hygiene items and prayer, when requested, with our fellow neighbors in need: 1,850 people (average 60 percent repeat/40 percent new) during 27 homeless outreach runs to West, South and Central Maui.

A Cup of Cold Water’s 2013 report is available to anyone in the community that would like to know more about who we are and what we are doing!

If you would like a copy e-mailed to you and/or have a desire to serve or donate to our local mission outreach, please contact Keku Akana, board president, or Mary Lou Mellinger, board secretary, at ACupOfColdWaterMaui@gmail.com or (808) 419-1637.



Police should enforce speed limits

Just reading an article in The Maui News on Jan. 21, I am thinking, “It must be a real good feeling to give yourself a pat on the back.”

On the front page, a policeman is shown training his laser speed gun at traffic, and on page 4, another picture giving out a speeding ticket. Looks a little staged to me…

The headline reads: “Police say fatalities to go up if speed limit is not enforced.”

Let me ask you a simple question: why is it NOT enforced all along Honoapiilani Highway from Kapalua to Lahaina, together with giving out citations for running red lights as well?

Maybe there are not enough shady places where the police can sit in comfort? Maybe you would have to stand (not in uniform) at any of the main intersections and radio the license plate of a speeding car, or of someone running a red light, to a patrol car a few hundred yards away? Is it too complicated, too inconvenient, too hot??

Guess what, Mister Policeman, YOU GET PAID FOR DOING JUST THAT. And to comment on the headline – “Police say….” – I ask, then why don’t you???

The West Maui PD is not doing their job properly. Every crossing of Highway 30 is almost a suicide mission. And as an afterthought, is it really smart to announce in the newspaper ahead of time that road blocks will be put up and also mention where and when? They should come as a surprise, at a time and location when somebody least expects them.

So get your act together, gentlemen! Do what you are supposed to do. And if it’s a little uncomfortable, TOUGH. If you wanted a cushy job in an air conditioned environment, you should work at a bank and not be with the PD.