County Council passes Bill 21 on first reading to expedite permits for wildfire rebuilding

Listen to this Article
3 minutes
Loading Audio... Article will play after ad...
Playing in :00

Homeowner, Cecilia Domingo observes debris clearing on the property. (2.14.24) PC: US Army Corps of Engineers.

A bill aimed at expediting rebuilding in Lahaina received unanimous initial approval Wednesday from Maui County Council members.

Bill 21 would broaden emergency repair provisions of Maui County’s current building code and clarify repair and approval procedures for issuing emergency building permits, said Council Member Tom Cook, chair of the Water and Infrastructure Committee.

“Bill 21 (2024) is an essential component in the County’s economic recovery, in rebuilding the wildfire-affected areas in Lahaina and Upcountry, and in addressing Maui’s challenging housing issues,” Cook said.

Council Member Tom Cook, chair of the Water and Infrastructure Committee, says a bill to expedite building permit applications is “an essential component” in Maui County’s wildfire recovery. Bill 21 passed first reading. It’s set for second reading on March 8. (2024) PC: County of Maui

“Given that current County building permit processing times can take up to a year, Bill 21 (2024) demonstrates the collaborative effort between the Council, County departments and the Administration, to address permit processing times in order to facilitate the County’s recovery as quickly as possible,” he said.


The bill fast-tracks the processing of building permits by consolidating electrical, plumbing, grading and driveway permits into one permit application, and it establishes a 15-day approval period for the wildfire-affected areas, Cook said. The measure also allows permit fees to be deferred for residential structures until final inspection and allows permits to be reissued for structures built within the last five years.

The county Office of Recovery estimates that 1,100 residential properties qualify for the expedited permitting permit process under Bill 21.

The bill passed first reading, and it will be on the full Council’s agenda for second-and-final reading on March 8.

The measure was heard before Cook’s committee on Feb. 8.


While the bill is focused on lowering hurdles to rebuilding properties destroyed during the Aug. 8 wildfire, it will take years before fire ash and debris are completely cleared and devastated infrastructure, such as water and sewer systems and electrical grids, are repaired and rebuilt.

On Feb. 8, Department of Public Works Director Jordan Molina told committee members that, once the measure is in place, disaster-affected applications will be flagged for expedited review by department staff.

According to a committee report on the bill, it would not affect the standards used by county and state agencies to review building permit applications. So, land use regulations, such as those in special management areas and historic districts, would still be enforced in permit application processing. For example, additional agency reviews may be required for properties that are adjacent to substandard roads or fire access areas.

In other action, on second-and-final reading, council members passed:


Bill 4, which amends the county’s fiscal 2024 budget to provide $4.9 million in Affordable Housing Funds, as a grant, to ʻĀina Lani Pacific to help with sharply rising construction costs for its 28-home Kilohana Makai project in Kīhei.

Bills 137 and 138, which appropriate $3.63 million in general obligation bonds for rehabilitation of the War Memorial Football Stadium and Satoki Yamamoto Track.

Bill 1, which authorizes the mayor to enter into an amended agreement with the US Army regarding a design agreement for an ʻĪao flood risk management project in Wailuku.

Bill 5, which amends the fiscal 2024 budget to provide an appropriation of nearly $2.65 million for new affordable rental housing for kupuna.

Brian Perry
Brian Perry worked as a staff writer and editor at The Maui News from 1990 to 2018. Before that, he was a reporter at the Pacific Daily News in Agana, Guam. From 2019 to 2022, he was director of communications in the Office of the Mayor.
Read Full Bio

Sponsored Content

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Stay in-the-know with daily or weekly
headlines delivered straight to your inbox.


This comments section is a public community forum for the purpose of free expression. Although Maui Now encourages respectful communication only, some content may be considered offensive. Please view at your own discretion. View Comments