Lahaina Strong begins de-occupation of ‘Fishing for Dignified Housing’ site in Kāʻanapali

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PC: Lahaina Strong (5.2.24)

After 175 days, the Lahaina Strong group announced its end to the occupation of Kāʻanapali Beach as part of its Fishing for Dignified Housing initiative.

Paele Kiakona, one of the Lahaina Strong leaders stood in front of the same sign along the West Maui shoreline nearly nine months ago, “demanding immediate action to address the situation that all of our fire survivors are in… Our initial push and focus at the time was for our government officials to utilize their powers in this emergency proclamation time, after the disaster, to convert a specific list of short-term rentals to long-term dignified housing for our fire survivors.”

With the announcement earlier in the day of a proposed bill to phase out vacation rentals in apartment districts on Maui, and the passage on Wednesday of Senate Bill 2919 that paves the way for action at the county level, Kiakona said the progress marked “a huge win, but a small step in the right direction,” for their efforts.


He said the bill’s passage in the legislature marked “a monumental moment” not just for Lahiana, but for the entire state. It essentially grants the counties power to phase out short term rentals on their own accord.

Paele Kiakona of Lahaina Strong said the proposed legislation to phase out transient vacation rentals from the apartment district is “a huge step forward to restore dignity and hope to our families and bring our communities back together.” PC: Wendy Osher (5.2.24)

“I see it as more than just our efforts in Lahaina,” said Kiakona who reflected upon the progress made to date. “I see it as an effort in Lahaina being now a beacon for the rest of the state. And I always say Lahaina has probably the most densely packed area… of all of our issues that the state experienced statewide—the lack of water, lack of adequate infrastructure, lack of policing… too many short term rentals, over tourism, too much private ownership of water—so I think a win for us in Lahaina would extrapolate throughout the rest.”

In an interview with Maui Now, Kikona said the group saw the underlying issues that led up to the fire itself, and will continue to seek a resilient future. “I know one of the biggest focuses coming up is getting our water back and putting our water back into the stream (because 78% is still owned by private purveyors), and helping to reforest… that’s that’s what’s going to help mitigate anything to come in the future,” he said.


“I think it’s super crucial that we help to restore everything long term, so that we don’t put ourselves back in the same position.”

He reflected on other grassroots, community-led efforts to seek change saying: “Maunakea was the spark; Lahaina was the fire, and we are still burning… This everlasting torch we will continue to carry,” he said.

In announcing the end to Lahaina Strong’s Fishing for Housing encampment, Kiakona said, “We’re going to end it like we started it—with the community first and foremost, and always.”

Wendy Osher
Wendy Osher leads the Maui Now news team. She is also the news voice of parent company, Pacific Media Group, having served more than 20 years as News Director for the company’s six Maui radio stations.
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