Fact Check: Maui Did NOT Ban New Building Unless There Was A Serious Natural Disaster

Fact Check

  • by: Dana Ford
Fact Check: Maui Did NOT Ban New Building Unless There Was A Serious Natural Disaster County Law

Did government officials in Maui pass a law prohibiting new building unless some sort of "serious natural disaster" occurred, thereby raising suspicions about the cause of the deadly August 2023 wildfires on the Hawaiian island? No, that's not true: The claim appears to be referring to legislation that applied to hotels and other so-called transient accommodations. The law did not include a natural disaster exception.

The claim appeared in a post (archived here) published on Instagram on August 16, 2023. The post included video of a man talking and a caption that read:

There are so many layers to this disaster. Please continue to pray for these families and their loved ones. #corruption #corruptgovernment #maui #fraud

Users on social media saw this at the time of the writing of this fact check:

(Source: Instagram screenshot taken on Fri Aug 18 15:30:05 2023 UTC)

The man in the video said the following:

Not that long ago, Hawaiian government officials in the areas that were just affected by the wildfires passed a law saying that that land could not be redistricted for new building permits unless some sort or some type of a serious natural disaster occurred. Serious natural disaster occurred. And what did we have happen through those three districts, a very sacred land to the Hawaiians? A very serious natural disaster.

He put "wildfires" and "natural" in air quotes when he spoke.

His comments suggested the fires are not a natural disaster, but rather an attempt to subvert or exploit local law for private gain. Later, he added:

There's too many coincidences for this not to be shady. Wake up.

Besides offering no proof for his claim, the man mispresented recent legislation. He was likely referring to Ordinance No. 5473, which was adopted by the Maui County Council and took effect on December 4, 2022. The legislation established caps on new transient accommodations and repealed an earlier ordinance that created a two-year moratorium on such accommodations, which include hotel rooms, beach houses and apartments.

Maui government officials described Ordinance No. 5473 as follows:

Except for Hotel Districts and B-R Resort Commercial District, the Planning Department cannot accept new permit applications for transient accommodations. Existing permits can be renewed and existing operations can be repaired or renovated but not in a way that adds new rooms or units. In addition, parking of camper vans or RVs for commercial transient accommodation use is prohibited unless specifically permitted.

The legislation can be read in full here. Note that there is no mention of a natural disaster exception, as the man in the video claimed.

Lead Stories has debunked a number of false claims related to the August 2023 Maui wildfires. For example, we wrote that standing trees do not prove the fires were a false flag operation and that there is no evidence the fires were caused by a "direct energy weapon assault." See here for all of our fact checks about the Maui wildfires.

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  Dana Ford

Dana Ford is an Atlanta-based reporter and editor. She previously worked as a senior editor at Atlanta Magazine Custom Media and as a writer/ editor for CNN Digital. Ford has more than a decade of news experience, including several years spent working in Latin America.

Read more about or contact Dana Ford

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