Save Maui trip money by camping in a rental? Council may put brakes on the growing practice
March 21, 2022, 6:00 AM HST
* Updated March 21, 9:38 AM
Rental vehicles with camping accessories can’t be used as visitor accommodations under a new proposal being considered by county lawmakers.
Maui County Council is in the early stages of considering whether to put the brakes on such vehicles, including camper vans, recreational vehicles or Jeeps topped with tents, unless they’re allowed by zoning and proper permits are obtained.
Council Member Tamara Paltin, whose residency seat covers West Maui, said the proposal is critical to the west side.
“Driving from West Maui to Central in the early morning or early evening, the whole coastline is littered with this kind of thing,” Paltin said during the council’s Planning and Sustainable Land Use Committee meeting last week. “I don’t think any one of them are paying (Transient Accommodations Tax) or anything like that, and they’re taking up camping spots that local people camp at.”
Campers could obtain a permit, though, and stay overnight in certain areas designated for camping, including Waiʻānapanapa State Park, Olowalu campgrounds, Pāpalaua Wayside Park and other spots, Paltin added.
The committee is mulling a resolution tied to transient accommodation caps. If adopted, a proposed bill to change zoning rules tied to transient accommodations caps would go to planning commissions and advisory committees for recommendations.
Part of that would add Subsection G to Section 11, which says: “In all zoning districts, temporary parking of camper vans and recreational vehicles is prohibited if rented for short term accommodations or commercial purposes unless it is allowed by zoning and the proper permit is obtained.”
Members during the meeting discussed how to regulate the short-term rental practice from a land use angle. They are considering beefing up the language to cover as many vehicle rentals with camping capacity as possible.
“It’s not the be all end all, but it’s a stop gap,” Paltin said.
The committee item was recessed until 1:30 p.m. Wednesday.
After the state shut down to most travel at the onset of the pandemic, it reopened tourism Oct. 15, 2020, with a way to bypass COVID-19 quarantine rules by providing negative tests and later vaccine requirements via the Safe Travels program.
Maui County saw a faster than expected resurgence in US Mainland arrivals, with many driven by pent-up demand and savings. By summer 2021, US Mainland arrivals reached a new all-time high.
County leaders and residents all the while have been looking for ways to curb the negative impacts of tourism, such as over-crowded infrastructure and diminished natural resources.
The proposal to cap transient accommodations stemmed from a council subgroup that released a tourism management plan in February.