28 Grassroots Organizations Launch “Fishing for Decent Housing” Initiative at Kaanapali Beach: Maui Now

Baylee Kiakona, Lahaina’s Strong Advocacy and Communications Coordinator, speaks at a press conference on November 10, 2023, to launch the “Fish-In for Hincrened Housing” project at Kaanapali Beach. PC: Lahaina Strong Hwy

On Kaanapali Beach, next to the whalers’ tourist village, 28 grassroots community organizations under the new Lahaina Strong Hue organization on Friday launched the “Fishing for Dignified Housing” campaign.

West Maui organizations set up pop-up tents and fishing poles on the sandy beach, with plans to stay put “as long as possible” until demands for long-term housing solutions for those displaced by the Lahaina Fire are met.

“We even talked about where we could put a Christmas tree,” said Jordan Ruedas, the original organizer of the Lahaina Strong Festival in 2018, after a fire that year destroyed about 15 homes.

A new growing coalition, Lahaina Strong Hue, is united for a Lahaina recovery that focuses on prioritizing kama’ina and local needs over corporate greed, and restoring the aina and wai (land and water), according to its press release.

The coalition asks Maui County Mayor Richard Bessen and Hawaii Governor Josh Green to use their power and authority to provide dignified housing solutions for displaced populations by:

  • Converting Menatoya-listed West Maui short-term rental properties into long-term rentals
  • Extend protections for renters from rent increases and eviction for at least one year
  • Push for immediate mortgage deferral for all homes completely lost in the fire, and back-mortgage reduction for all properties not participating in short-term rentals.
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Minatoya’s list covers condominiums, apartments and planned developments that are not hotels but can legally conduct short-term rentals or vacation rentals without any type of state or county permit. Organizers say there are about 2,400 units in West Maui on this list.

  • On Kaanapali Beach, next to the Whaler Tourist Village, 28 grassroots community organizations under the new Lahaina Strong Hue on November 10, 2023 launched the Fishing for Dignified Housing initiative. PC: Cami Clark

  • On Kaanapali Beach, next to the Whaler Tourist Village, 28 grassroots community organizations under the new Lahaina Strong Hue on November 10, 2023 launched the Fishing for Dignified Housing initiative. PC: Cami Clark

  • On Kaanapali Beach, next to the Whaler Tourist Village, 28 grassroots community organizations under the new Lahaina Strong Hue on November 10, 2023 launched the Fishing for Dignified Housing initiative. PC: Cami Clark

  • On Kaanapali Beach, next to the Whaler Tourist Village, 28 grassroots community organizations under the new Lahaina Strong Hue on November 10, 2023 launched the Fishing for Dignified Housing initiative. PC: Cami Clark

  • On Kaanapali Beach, next to the Whaler Tourist Village, 28 grassroots community organizations under the new Lahaina Strong Hue on November 10, 2023 launched the Fishing for Dignified Housing initiative. PC: Cami Clark

The coalition said these steps are necessary due to the looming shelter crisis, as several West Maui hotels’ contracts with the Red Cross to house fire survivors are set to expire on November 30, potentially leaving thousands of families currently staying in hotels with no place to live. in it.

The coalition said many in the community feel they are being overlooked for the sake of tourism, so it is taking its demands to the front door of the same hotels on West Maui from which they are at risk of being displaced.

By Friday afternoon, about 20 pop-up tents were set up on the beach in front of Leilani’s Beach Restaurant, and tourists were sitting on identical Tommy Bahama chairs to the north of them.

Many children were playing in the ocean, and some parents were trying to teach their children how to fish. Hawaiian flags were neatly lined up, and organizers were selling Lahaina T-shirts. Fishing poles also lined the beach with lines extending into the ocean.

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At the coalition’s press conference on Friday at the beach, Baylee Kiakona, a former hospitality worker and Lahaina Strong’s advocacy and communications coordinator, said: “Rushing to restart tourism brings with it the specter of displacement and more indifference towards those already suffering. Countless remain.” Of our relatives are staying in temporary shelters, with the looming threat of uprooting again.

“For this reason, today we stand firm and pledge to remain steadfast until our voices are heard and our needs are met.”

Kyakona urged Besen to harness his influence to convert short-term rentals into stable homes for displaced people, and to enact policies that protect fire survivors from the vagaries of the housing market.

“The beauty of Lahaina stems not only from its landscape, but also from its people,” he said. “However, the path we are on threatens to alienate our people, threatening to lose the essential essence that makes Lahaina such an extraordinary destination in the first place.”

The coalition said there is an immediate and viable solution that uses existing short-term rentals to house many thousands of displaced people in a dignified manner, with access to kitchens, washing machines, living space, beds for each family member and peace. Knowing that they won’t be evicted or have to pack up again in a few weeks to move to another temporary location.

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This dignity and security will allow Lahaina to truly heal, and allow the community and economy to begin to get back on its feet, the press release stated.

Using emergency powers, the coalition said Besen and Green could convert thousands of transient vacation rentals and short-term rentals on the West Side into long-term rentals, and continue and strengthen rent controls to ensure affordability for residents and relief agencies.

The coalition said this authority was granted under HRS 127A-12(c), (4) and (6):

(c) The mayor may exercise the following powers related to emergency management:

(4) utilize all services, materials and facilities of non-governmental agencies, relief organizations, community associations and other private sector organizations and non-profit organizations that may be made available;

(6) Purchase, manufacture, produce, build, rent, lease, purchase on credit or otherwise, transport, store, install, maintain, insure, repair, refurbish, restore, replace, rebuild, distribute, furnish or otherwise dispose of. Materials and facilities needed to manage emergency situations, with or without fees; And get federal aid whenever possible.

The coalition’s community leaders intend to continue the peaceful “hunting” and exercise of customary and traditional rights to draw attention to the long-term housing crisis faced by thousands of residents until dignified long-term housing is secured, the statement said.

There is a law in Hawaii that loosely states: If you are beach fishing (a pole in the sand with a fishing line in the ocean), you are legally allowed to stay on any public beach overnight any day of the week.

They are also inviting other West Maui residents to join them over the weekend and beyond.

To watch the press conference click here.

Baylee Kiakona, Lahaina’s Strong Advocacy and Communications Coordinator, speaks at a press conference on November 10, 2023, to launch the “Fish-In for Hincrened Housing” project at Kaanapali Beach. PC: Lahaina Strong Hwy

Lahaina Strong Hui is a growing coalition of 28 organizations including: Lahaina Strong, Kakoo Haleakala, Save Honolua, Kaibigan ng Lahaina, Friends of Maui, Ka Malu O Kahalawai, Maui Housing Hui, Maui Medic Healers Hui, Maui Hale Match, Tagnawa, Roots Reborn , Kahana Canoe Club, Napili Canoe Club, Lahaina Canoe Club, Save Kaanapali, Rebuild Maui, Malama Oluwalu, Malama Na Pua O Haumea, Napili Noho Hub, Na Leu Kaku, Maui Rescue Mission, Maui Nui Resilience Hui, Hui O Kuapa, TUV Hawaii, Maui Rapid Response, West Maui Conservation Society, Na Papai Wawai Olaola, and Polanui Hue.

(tags for translation) Displaced Fire Survivors

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