Mayor Provides Update on Maui Housing, Puts Illegal Short Term Rentals “On Notice”
Maui Mayor Michael Victorino held a press conference on Wednesday morning to discuss housing efforts being carried out by the County of Maui. He was joined by Housing and Human Concerns Director Lori Tsuhako.
*Join us for our LIVE Facebook stream of the event, set to start at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, June 26, 2019.
Mayor Michael Victorino declared Wednesday that there’s a “dire need” for housing units in Maui County with estimates of up to 15,000 units needed by 2025.
The Mayor’s Strategic Housing Plan will be presented to the Maui County Council in the coming weeks. The plan will include a variety of housing options from fast track to tiny homes, as well as short- and long-term strategic objectives to increase the inventory.
“There’s nothing off the table because we’ve got to open the door and look at everything,” Mayor Victorino said.
“Our working people have been left out for many, many years in many of our housing plans,” he said during a news conference Wednesday morning. “Yes, we build for our seniors. Yes, we build for our disabled. But the working people . . . They’re not going to come to a council meeting. They’re working two and three jobs. They’re busy surviving. They’re busy raising their families. We don’t hear from them,” he said.
The Mayor also created the Attainable Housing for Maui Nui Working Group, led by Managing Director Sandy Baz, which is a working group of county departments to coordinate efforts to create attainable housing.
“No more silos,” Mayor Victorino said. “I stand here ready to work with everyone – council members, nonprofits, the private sector and state agencies. I think this is an effort, finally, where I see everyone working for one purpose – housing for our people.”
Department of Housing and Human Concerns Director Lori Tsuhako expressed appreciation for Mayor Victorino’s support for a multi-agency, multi-pronged approach to more housing creation.
“I cannot express to you how it lifts my heart to hear the mayor say that this is a very big community effort,” she said. “It’s a lift that requires not just the Department of Housing and Human Concerns because everyone here and everyone in the community should know that the department will not do this alone. It requires the efforts and the collaboration, the cooperation and the diligence of people throughout our community.”
Tsuhako said her department’s strategic plan, which will be discussed in greater detail with County Council members, will analyze available data on the needs in Maui County for affordable housing. The plan also will look at short-term and long-term strategic objectives to increase the inventory of housing units.
“The major thing about the plan that makes me feel much more confident and much more comfortable is that the mayor is saying you guys need to do this together,” she said. “There may be disagreements. There may be differences in perspective about what the best way is to move forward, but the mayor is saying, ‘Move forward,’ and I think he is pushing all of us in that direction. So, Mr. Mayor, I appreciate that vote of confidence and the authority that you allow us to do these projects.”
Also during his news conference yesterday, the mayor also expressed dismay that Maui County has reached 11 traffic fatalities so far this year, compared with four at the same time last year. Factors ranged from drug and alcohol to speeding and not wearing seat belts.
“Maui County cannot and will not tolerate this,” he said.
Mayor Victorino said he has instructed the Maui Police Department to increase traffic enforcement as soon as possible. The department already has plans to have patrol and traffic officers out in force with DUI checkpoints during the upcoming Fourth of July weekend.
Mayor Victorino noted that Tropical Storm Alvin is the first named storm of this year’s hurricane season. As of Wednesday morning, it was located off the coast of Mexico and posed no apparent threat to Hawaiʻi. However, Mayor Victorino said news of the first named storm is a reminder for residents.
“Be vigilant and be aware,” he said. “Don’t wait until a storm is coming and then rush to stores for emergency items.”
Emergency management officials recommend having 14 days’ worth of water and nonperishable food, among other supplies. For more information, call the Maui Emergency Management Agency at (808) 270-7285 or visit www.mauicounty.gov/emergency.