Maui Shuts Down B&Bs and Rentals

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Affordable lodging is now much harder to find on the island, and other islands may follow suit.

California teacher Rebecca Vallejo had planned a two-week stay at the Haiku Plantation Inn on Maui. When the inn said it couldn't honor her reservation, she couldn't find lodging for under $350 per night. She had to cancel the trip.

Haiku Plantation had no choice: Maui officials decreed in July that B&Bs and vacation rentals without permits must cease operations or face fines starting at $1,000. A study funded by the Realtors Association of Maui put the number of properties without permits at 816. The number of properties with permits is 21.

There had been a long-standing tacit agreement between the county and property owners that the rules wouldn't be enforced except when complaints were lodged against a property. County officials have drafted a bill that would streamline the permitting process for B&Bs (and also prohibit vacation rentals in certain areas). It's unlikely that any legislation will go through before early 2008. A list of properties with permits would be helpful, but county agencies can't agree on who should distribute it.

Why the sudden enforcement of a dormant law? Hotels certainly have much to gain from the crackdown. Locals, meanwhile, blame the lack of affordable housing on the number of properties that are being used to house vacationers instead of islanders, and they say that parking and crowding problems are worse because of the high concentration of B&Bs.

Other islands may follow suit. On Oahu, residents of the Kailua area are agitating for similar enforcement. And on Kauai, a bill restricting the number and type of vacation rentals island-wide was introduced at the County Council late last year.

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