Maui mayor and council decide to acquire Lahaina Crossroads after tenants evicted

Lahaina Crossroads Apartments at 767 Luakini St., Lahaina, is giving tenants notice to vacate. PC: Kehaulani Cerizo
Lahaina Crossroads Apartments tenants join hands during a Lahaina City protest to shed light on the lack of affordable housing for labor and kupuna residents. PC: Amrita Pullar

After longtime residents, including kupuna on fixed incomes, speak out about impending evictions at one of Lahaina’s last affordable apartments for rent, county leaders move to purchase the 20-minute Lahaina Crossroads units, located a few blocks from Front Street.

Mayor Michael Victorino is asking for up to $11 million to buy the building at 767 Luakini St., Lahaina, according to an announcement Wednesday.

The move follows a resolution by council member Tamara Paltin, whose residence headquarters covers West Maui, urging the council to purchase the building for the benefit of long-term residents.

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In June, tenants received vacating notice ahead of renovations that would pave the way for conversion to transitional vacation rentals, which is permitted by current zoning. Renters spoke to Maui Now about their concerns about finding another place to live, especially with Lahaina’s limited housing supply.

As a result, the landlords have decided to give tenants more time before further departure notices are sent.

Victorino has met with the landlord over the past several months to outline the community benefits of the county acquiring the apartment complex, according to Wednesday’s announcement. He thinks the community will benefit greatly from affordable long-term rentals rather than short-term vacation rentals.

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“I would like to thank the landowner for negotiating in good faith given the difficulties these kupuna and other tenants would face if the planned conversion to vacation rentals were to proceed,” Victorino said in the statement. “The acquisition of Lahaina Crossroads will mean move-in ready long-term rental units for our residents.”

As a way to address the housing crisis, Stand Up Maui, a local nonprofit that advocates affordable housing, had encouraged the county to acquire existing affordable housing infrastructure to keep tenants in the homes.

Paltin said she fully supports the county’s acquisition of the building.

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“I also appreciate the landowner’s consideration for the well-being of our community,” she said in the statement.

The budget amendment requesting funding is posted on the Maui County Council meeting agenda for Tuesday.

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