The ‘Aina kupuna’ bill to help long-standing local families advances | News, Sports, Jobs


Maui County Council has approved a bill at first reading that would allow the county to acquire 493 acres in Waiale for cultural preservation for $ 10.5 million. It was among several measures adopted at first reading on Friday, including the “aina kupuna” bill which aims to reduce taxes for long-time local families who own property in areas whose value is skyrocketing. – Rendered courtesy of Keani Rawlins-Fernandez

Call him “historical,” Maui County Council has almost definitively approved a bill that would help long-time local families avoid being taxed on properties they have owned for decades.

Council members voted 8-0, with Council Member Kelly King excused, to pass the “aina kupuna” bill at first reading on Friday. The bill will allow qualifying homeowners to pay only the minimum property tax, which is currently $ 350 per year. Property owners will also have to dedicate their land “aina kupuna” and fulfill the eligibility conditions. A second and final reading of the bill is necessary.

Many long-time landowners in highly desirable areas near the waterfront and rural areas have faced thousands of skyrocketing property taxes due to land speculators as well as upscale homes and landlords. new developments built around them. Some longtime owners have said they even have to ask their children to help pay the taxes.

Council President Alice Lee said the bill was “historical.” In the 1990s, when Lee was a council member, she said the council passed a bill that would allow taro farmers to consolidate their plots so that they would only have to pay a minimum property tax until a one time instead of several.

The same council also passed a law whereby the county would assess property taxes only on the homes of residents of the State Department of Hawaii Home Lands and not on the land, Lee said.

Other counties have called on Maui County to discourage passage of such a law, she said.

“And now, once again, we have the opportunity to participate in historic legislation”, Lee said.

Vice President Keani Rawlins-Fernandez, who introduced the bill, spoke about the history of the people of Hawaii and how it has become increasingly difficult for longtime local families to retain the land they have held for years, especially the land located in special management areas where the development of hotels and resorts and transitional accommodation as well as “Houses of all kinds” increase property taxes.

She said those landowners may not have been able to claim property tax relief through other county programs.

“It’s a way to close the gap, to help those who have fallen through the cracks and we haven’t been able to help,” he added. Rawlins-Fernandez said, adding that more bills were on the way for property tax relief for longtime residents of Maui County.

Rawlins-Fernandez also introduced amendments to the bill on Friday, including changing the definition of “aina kupuna” means real estate owned in whole or in part in fee simple by one or more descendants of the person who owned the property for at least 80 years before the request. The bill previously listed an ownership date of June 30, 1940 to qualify.

Other changes include the requirement that the Aina Kupuna property be in the Special Management Zone and that it has been assessed at over $ 50,000 in property taxes over the past 10 years.

The bill as a whole will not apply to real estate owned by a company whose shares are sold or held by the general public, nor can the property be used for commercial purposes such as rentals of transitional vacations, short-term rentals and bed and breakfasts. breakfast houses. But, commercial agriculture on land is allowed.

The bill allows at least the longtime Luuwai family in Makena to continue with their short-term rental. The property has been granted a conditional permit for temporary vacation rental use in accordance with the Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance and has been classified as “Commercialized residential” before May 23, 2012.

The first reading passage on Friday also included bills to:

• Allow the county to acquire 493 acres in Waiale for cultural preservation for $ 10.5 million, receive the allocation of an additional 50 acres also for cultural preservation and receive a donation of 23.38 acres for affordable housing near from Hansen Road, both from Alexander & Baldwin. The land in central Maui adjoining the Kuihelani Expressway owned by A&B was intended for a planned community with houses, shopping areas, a college, public facilities, and parks, but iwi kupuna, or ancestral remains. , have been found in the area.

• Tighten many development and land use laws for the Wailuku Redevelopment Zone, which covers approximately 68 acres in the heart of the city. It also derives power from the Maui Redevelopment Agency, a county committee that oversees decisions about height deviations, zoning and other rules, instead placing it in the hands of the Deviations and Appeals Board of the county. Members told the board committee that changes needed to be made to avoid long-term litigation. In 2020, community groups opposed to a six-story Wailuku hotel project filed a lawsuit challenging the legal authority of the Maui redevelopment agency.

• Limit short-term rental housing permits to one per person and one per property, expand notification requirements for bed and breakfast and short-term rental housing permit applications, and establish that family trusts can hold property. bed and breakfast and short-term accommodation. -long term rental permit. Council member Tamara Paltin, chair of the Planning and Sustainable Land Use Committee which recommended approval of the bill, also made an amendment on Friday that would provide flexibility in the transfer of housing permits for rooms. hosts. The owners have said in previous testimony that they feared they could not transfer their licenses to family members.

* Melissa Tanji can be contacted at [email protected]

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