Hawaii governor vows to block land grabs as fire-ravaged Maui rebuilds

by Ryan Lee
fokus keyword Maui wildfire

The governor of Hawaii, Josh Green, has made a resolute commitment to shield local landowners from exploitation by predatory buyers as Maui embarks on the rebuilding process following a catastrophic wildfire. This fire, the most lethal in the U.S. in over 100 years, obliterated a historic community on the island and led to the tragic death of 111 individuals.

On Wednesday, Governor Green announced that he had directed the state attorney general to pursue a halt on land transactions in the affected area of Lahaina, fully acknowledging that this measure might face legal obstacles.

Green stated firmly, “I will ensure that nobody is preyed upon by land-grabbing schemes. Many are currently traumatized. It’s not the time to pursue them with proposals to purchase their land or manipulate them into believing it’s in their best interest. We will not tolerate it.”

The death toll continued to rise on Wednesday, leading to questions about why the Maui Emergency Management Agency didn’t utilize the state’s extensive alert siren system. Agency administrator Herman Andaya justified the decision, fearing that people might have moved towards the mountains, and consequently, into the path of the fire.

Citizens, like Avery Dagupion, expressed outrage over the perceived lack of warning and trust issues following an announcement by Maui Mayor Richard Bissen, which seemed to prematurely declare the fire contained. Both Green and Bissen responded defiantly to criticism, with Bissen emphasizing that the firefighters themselves had lost homes in the blaze.

An investigation into the cause of the wildfires is underway, reflecting a larger trend as Hawaii faces increased disaster risk, with wildfires being a prominent concern. Locals of Lahaina fear that the reconstruction efforts may favor wealthy visitors, with hotels and condos that may be out of reach for the native population.

Many residents were already facing financial challenges before the fire. The average cost of a starter home in Hawaii exceeds $1 million, while renters typically spend 42% of their income on housing, the highest ratio in the nation.

In response to these concerns, Governor Green promised to reveal details of the moratorium by Friday and expressed his desire for a prolonged halt on land sales that don’t align with the interests of the local community.

Affordable housing was already a focus for Green, who sought $1 billion for housing programs when he entered office in January. Since the fires, he’s contemplating acquiring land in Lahaina for workforce housing and a memorial.

Signs of recovery are beginning to show, with schools reopening and traffic returning to major roads. Sacred Hearts School in Lahaina, however, was destroyed, but Principal Tonata Lolesio is hopeful about resuming classes soon, emphasizing the importance of returning to some normalcy for the students.

The story was reported by journalists from various locations and is part of Big Big News’ climate and environmental coverage, supported by several private foundations, with the AP maintaining full responsibility for all content.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about fokus keyword Maui wildfire

What actions has Governor Josh Green taken to protect landowners in Maui after the wildfire?

Governor Josh Green has instructed the state attorney general to work toward a moratorium on land transactions in Lahaina to prevent opportunistic buyers from exploiting landowners. He has also expressed his desire for a prolonged halt on land sales that do not benefit local people.

How many people died in the Maui wildfire?

The Maui wildfire resulted in the death of 111 people.

Why didn’t the Maui Emergency Management Agency sound the outdoor alert sirens during the fire?

The agency’s administrator, Herman Andaya, stated that they were afraid people would have gone mauka (toward the mountains or inland) and consequently into the fire’s path.

What are the concerns of Lahaina’s locals regarding the rebuilding process?

Locals fear that the rebuilt town may cater more to wealthy visitors, leading to the construction of hotels and condos that they can’t afford to live in. Many were already struggling to afford life in Hawaii before the fire.

How is Governor Green addressing the housing issue in Hawaii, especially after the fire?

Governor Green made affordable housing a priority when he entered office and sought $1 billion for housing programs. Since the fires, he’s considering acquiring land in Lahaina for the state to build workforce housing and has also suggested creating a memorial.

What are some signs of recovery in Maui after the wildfire?

Signs of recovery include the reopening of public schools across Maui, the resumption of traffic on a major road, and plans for the destroyed Sacred Hearts School in Lahaina to resume lessons in the coming weeks at another Catholic school.

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Tim89 August 17, 2023 - 8:44 pm

what about the firefighters who lost their homes? 25 of them? They were out there fighting and now they’ve got nothing. Seems like the system failed somewhere.

Jenny O'Connor August 17, 2023 - 9:49 pm

I can’t believe what’s happening in Maui, so tragic for everyone there. why didn’t they use the alert system? People could have been saved. thoughts and prayers!

Mike T. August 18, 2023 - 1:04 am

It’s good to see the governor taking action on the land grabs, thats a big concern for people after a disaster. Hope they find a way to keep housing affordable for locals.

Sara M. August 18, 2023 - 1:56 am

The wildfires are getting out of control. This is the deadliest in over a century, and it shows that we need to take better care of our planet. Climate change is real folks!


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