The advancement of a transient vacation rentals bill from the County Council's Planning Committee to the full council was a major step forward in putting this controversy in the rear-view mirror.
The proposed bill would limit the number of TVRs on Maui island to 400 with 100 in Kihei-Makena, 88 in West Maui, 88 in Paia-Haiku, 48 in Hana, 40 in Makawao-Pukalani-Kula and 36 in Wailuku-Kahului. Those numbers can be revisited if the limit is reached in an area.
The bill provides a process for permit approval administratively by the director of the Department of Planning. It provides for notification of neighbors when a permit is applied for, limits the TVRs to six bedrooms, requires off-street parking and establishes quiet hours from 9 p.m. to 8 a.m.
As several members noted, it is not perfect - but it does establish a process for these businesses to get legal.
We would urge operators of existing TVRs to apply promptly when the bill passes because of the numbers limitation. Just because the limits will be revisited if they are reached does not mean they will necessarily be raised.
The bill shifts the onus now to the owner-operators: They have to apply for the permits and, once approved, make sure their guests do not disturb the neighborhood.
As Council Member Don Couch pointed out, those operators who do not protect the neighborhoods in which they operate would face a "very strong chance of losing their permits."
The council was faced with a daunting task with TVRs - how to provide a reasonable permitting process while protecting residential neighborhoods. The proposed bill strikes a good balance.
* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.