2 of 3 Maui County Charter amendments approved

Voters approved two of three Maui County Charter amendments on Tuesday.

Voters agreed to increase the penalty for the operation of a transient accommodation without a valid permit to up to $20,000, plus a $10,000-per-day fine for each day the unlawful operation continues.

With 33 of 34 precincts tallied, the vote on the amendment was 25,028, or 51.7 percent, in favor, and 18,276, or 37.7 percent, opposed. There were 5,118 blank votes, or 10.6 percent.

The change aims to curb illegal vacation rentals, estimated at 3,000 to 8,000 countywide. The unpermitted rentals are believed to harm the islands’ inventory of available rental housing and result in state and county tax losses.

The former limit on penalties was a $1,000 fine for the violation and a cap of $1,000 per day.

Another amendment that gained voter support was the proposal to allow the county’s Open Space, Natural Resources, Cultural Resources and Scenic Views Preservation Fund to be used for safety and security improvements on lands acquired through the fund. Voters approved that measure with 29,200, or 60.3 percent, voting in favor, and 13,865, or 28.6 percent, voting against it. There were 5,361 blank votes, or 11.1 percent.

The charter amendment that received a thumbs down from voters was the proposal that legal claims be filed with the Department of the Corporation Counsel instead of the County Clerk. The move was aimed at streamlining government processing of civil claims and provide clarity for litigants.

The vote was 20,999 ballots, or 43.4 percent, opposed, and 18,813, or 38.8 percent, in favor. There were 8,617 blank votes, or 17.8 percent.

The majority of Maui County voters rejected convening a constitutional convention.

With 34 of 35 precincts counted, the vote was 31,327, or 64.6 percent, opposed, and 12,668, or 26.1 percent, in favor. There were 4,434 blank votes, or 9.1 percent.

The idea of holding a Constitutional Convention, or Con Con, drew opposition from establishment politicians and others.

The Constitutional Convention question appeared because Hawaii law provides that, if after nine years there’s been no Constitutional Convention, then the question needs to appear on the general election ballot. The last time this happened was in 2008.

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