State briefs for July 22

Maui mayor vetoes hotel construction moratorium bill

WAILUKU, Maui (AP) — Maui’s mayor has vetoed a bill that would have imposed a moratorium on hotel construction in parts of the Valley Isle, saying the measure wouldn’t be effective and was legally flawed.

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Mayor Michael Victorino said the bill won’t relieve crowds at Kahului Airport, reduce traffic on roads and solve illegal transient vacation rental woes.

“While the mayor appreciates the council’s intent and sentiment behind Bill 60, he believes it is more important for legislation to be effective and legal than for it to be fast,” county Managing Director Sandy Baz said during Tuesday afternoon’s news conference when the veto was announced.

The mayor contended the measure didn’t go through “proper reviews” required by the Maui County Charter, adding that the county’s corporation counsel didn’t sign the bill. Baz said the legal deficiencies would subject it to litigation.

The Maui County Council voted 6-2 on July 2 to approve Bill 60, which would place a moratorium on building permits for hotels and other visitor accommodations in south and west Maui until community plans in each area are updated or two years have passed, whichever is sooner.

Council Member Kelly King, who introduced the bill, said she was “surprised” and “disappointed” in the mayor’s decision.

Members of the community testified in support of the measure to mitigate overtourism, she said, adding the only opponents were industry and union representatives.

The veto comes weeks after Victorino asked airlines to voluntarily reduce the number of seats they fly to Maui to help the island cope as travel surges in the wake of last year’s COVID-19 pandemic freeze. Airlines haven’t heeded his call.

Kauai launches website to help visitors find transportation

LIHUE, Kauai (AP) — Officials on Kauai have a created a website to help tourists find transportation options as the island experiences a shortage of rental cars.

Kauai’s Office of Economic Development partnered with the Hawaii Tourism Authority to launch a website to help visitors find ways to get around without a car.

“Our goal is that this new website will serve as a resource to connect travelers with transportation alternatives, such as airport shuttles, ride-shares and bike rentals,” said Nalani Brun, Kauai’s Office of Economic Development director.

They also hope the website, GetAroundKauai.com, will create a more sustainable long-term transportation structure.

“This rental-car crisis can become an opportunity for us to shift away from the mindset that the only way to get around Kauai is with a personal vehicle,” Brun said.

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Officials said they hope the resource will help reduce traffic congestion created by tourists who are flocking to Hawaii as pandemic restrictions ease.

“During the pandemic, our residents were given a glimpse of what life is like without the influx of cars on our roads, and there’s no denying how much traffic had improved,” Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami said in a release.

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