Developers Eyeing Maui Land Where Homes Used to Be, Survivors Aren’t Budging – ‘This Is Not For Sale’

By: Georgia | Last updated: Sep 03, 2023

When the deadliest U.S. wildfires in over a century scorched Maui, the residents faced unprecedented losses. Yet, even as the embers still glowed, developers saw a golden opportunity.

But survivors, including Tammy Kaililaau, are asking, “Why are they doing that? You know, people burned in the fire.” For the locals, this tragedy is not just about lost homes, but about defending the island’s very essence.

From Heartfelt Condolences to Cold Calls: Maui's Dilemma

In the aftermath of the devastation, developers didn’t waste any time. Their unsolicited messages and calls started pouring in, sensing a chance to capitalize on the situation.

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John Dimuro, a local who has lived on the island for over 40 years and witnessed the island’s transformation over the decades, urges, “The government should just say ‘No, you’re not allowed to develop,'” he said. “Say no, just flat-out no.”

The Indomitable Will of Maui's Inhabitants

Mark Stefl, a local who has previously lost both his home and his job, epitomizes the spirit of resilience.

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Having faced the wrath of nature multiple times in his 24 years on Maui, he remains unwavering. “I’m not going to sell it. I’m going to stay here,” he said. “I love it here, as messed up as it is” he says. His sentiment is echoed across the island; the ties binding residents to Maui are far too deep to sever.

Dreamy Beaches, Skyrocketing Costs

Even before the fires, Maui’s real estate was sizzling, with home prices reaching a staggering $1.2 million average.

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Sterling Higa of Housing Hawaii’s Future paints a vivid picture of the struggles locals endure, especially given the dominance of the low-paying tourism sector. And yet, the allure of Maui, with its rich culture and memories, remains irresistible to its residents.

More Than Land, It's a Legacy

Jonah Lion, deeply rooted in the island’s business and culture, speaks of a palpable tension between tourists and locals.

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But there’s hope and determination in his voice. “It doesn’t matter how much money you offer,” he asserts, “No. We’re not selling. This is not for sale.” The message is clear: Maui intends to protect its heart and soul against all odds.