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County seeks to stop luaus and events at Paia property | News, Sports, Jobs

Musicians and others gather for an event on a beachfront property at 49 and 65 Hana Highway in Paia in April. The photo is among exhibits included in a Maui County lawsuit against landlords and a business owner operating a luau and other events at the properties. — Photo courtesy of Maui County

Maui County is seeking to stop a business owner from operating a luau and other business events without a permit on a waterfront property in Paia.

A lawsuit filed May 12 in the 2nd Circuit Court alleges that Kihei resident Jenna Yap operates her business Maui’s Finest Luau and hosts weddings. “almost every day on adjacent beachfront properties at 49 Hana Highway and 65 Hana Highway.

In statements accompanying the complaint, longtime residents of nearby Ae Place said the luau and other events, which have happened six to 10 times a month since July, are “incredibly noisy” with amplified music, live bands or disc jockeys.

A neighbor said he closed the windows and moved to the other side of his house to try to drown out the noise, including the shouting of a crowd and Tahitian-style drums. Another neighbor described a rap concert “with lots of swear words and ‘F-bombs'” which ended around 10 p.m.

In addition to Yap and Maui’s Finest Luau, the lawsuit was filed against Paia Bay Properties LLC, owner of the parcel at 49 Hana Highway and holder of a long-term lease for 65 Hana Highway. Yap leases both properties, according to the complaint.

A fire knife performance is shown in the advertisement for Maui’s Finest Luau. The photo is among exhibits included in a Maui County lawsuit against landlords and a business owner operating a luau and other events at the properties. — Photo courtesy of Maui County

In a statement Thursday, Yap said it was hiring a law firm to respond to allegations of code violations in the lawsuit.

“We appreciate the opportunity to clarify some misunderstandings, including the county’s long-standing history with the particular properties involved and particular personalities,” said his statement. “We are simply a small business that employs our local community and provides cultural experiences for visitors and kamaaina.

“While we appreciate the hard work of our county officials, we hope they will diligently pursue all suspected code violators with the same or similar zeal. We also understand that the public may have questions at this time. and we believe that these responses will be upheld through the judicial process.As such, we ask the media and the public to be patient and await judicial review.

According to the lawsuit, the business activities take place in special management and setback zones, requiring assessments and permits, which neither Yap nor the owners have obtained.

Michael Baskin of Paia Bay Properties said in a statement Thursday that the property at 65 Hana Highway received a county certificate of occupancy to operate as a restaurant in October 2017.

“All inspections and approvals for SMAs and Building Permits have been approved”, he said. “It took more than five years to get these permits. All parking has been approved.

He said the restaurant has health permits and food establishment permits from the state health department.

“Restaurants are allowed to serve food, hold music and hold events,” he said.

According to the lawsuit, the mauka portion of this property is zoned commercial town-country, while the makai portion is zoned residential.

Baskin said the property at 49 Hana Highway is zoned public/quasi-public, which allows for parking and church uses.

The lawsuit says a zoning inspector was assigned to investigate Aug. 5 after the county’s planning department received video footage from neighbors showing a commercial luau operating on the properties.

The next day, Yap and an associate visited the department to discuss plans for hosting Hawaiian cultural events at the properties. At the meeting, which included planning director Michele McLean, Yap was told she had to apply for permits and could not operate her business on the properties until she received the permits, according to the lawsuit. .

At the Yap meeting “was also advised that in the past the property owner has held events where musicians and guests were located on the residential portion of the property which is prohibited by zoning and in the waterfront area” , says the complaint.

On August 7, the day after the meeting, Yap hosted what appeared to be a wedding and reception at the properties, according to the lawsuit.

Warning notices for Coastal Zone Management Act and zoning violations were posted on the property Aug. 13 after Yap refused to accept notices from a county zoning inspector, according to the county. . The warning notices said Yap could face civil and criminal penalties if the activity continued without a permit and that fines could be up to $100,000 per incident and up to $10,000 per day.

After the county reported that she was continuing to hold events on unlicensed properties, Yap received notices of violation on Dec. 29.

The notices ordered Yap to “immediately cease and desist from all activity.” The notices also ordered Yap to pay a fine of $71,666 by Jan. 27, with additional fines accumulating over the period the violation continues.

The notices allowed Yap to challenge the violation orders.

Since receiving the violation notices, Yap has continued to hold unlicensed events and the planning department has continued to receive complaints, as well as video and photo documentation, from neighbors who live less than 100 feet from the property, according to the lawsuit.

“Several times a week they are subjected to loud and amplified music, crowd noise and streams of people entering and exiting the properties from the Hana Highway as well as the beach,” says the lawsuit.

On its website, Maui’s Finest Luau advertises a full two-hour Hawaiian/Polynesian show, including a Polynesian fire knife dancer, food and non-alcoholic beverages, through the end of the month. As of June 1, the website offers a “cultural show and dinner experience” lasting two and a half hours. Attendees can bring their own alcoholic beverages, the website says.

Prices range from general admission of $125 for children and $165 for adults to VIP admission of $169 for children and $199 for adults.

Attorney Terrance Revere, who represents Paia Bay Properties, said on Thursday the lawsuit was “just more harassment.”

“I and others have been saying and proving for years that the director of planning uses county resources to engage in personal vendettas,” says Revere.

In a separate case in 2015, Maui County fined Baskin $500,000 for 30 notices of violation over issues including short-term rental, special management area, zoning and laws of the building code.

Planning Director McLean said: “There is nothing personal about our enforcement actions against Maui’s Finest Luau. They have hosted multiple events that violated both zoning and Special Management Area requirements that have been brought to our attention by multiple neighbors.

A hearing is scheduled for July 1 before Judge Peter Cahill of the 2nd Circuit Environmental Court on the county’s request for a preliminary injunction.

“As the violation continues, an injunction against further violations is necessary,” depending on the county.

* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at

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