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Oct 08

Proposed bill to define height limit of buildings on Maui County

Posted on October 8, 2013 at 12:00 AM by Office of Council Services


I appreciate the community’s concern over a perceived increase in hotel building heights. There is a misperception going around that our zoning standards limit the height to 120 feet. Currently, there is no limit. 

In Maui County, there are several buildings over 120 feet in height. The Kalana O Maui building in Wailuku (County building) is 145 feet tall. In Kaanapali, several hotels and condominium buildings reach up to 170 feet.

The existing code states:
No building shall exceed two stories in H-1, six stories in H-M, and twelve stories in H-2 districts.

Hotel districts height standards

There is no height limit on stories. There is also no standard height for a story in the 2006 International Building Code adopted by the County last year. 

No height limit for buildings
Hotel lobbies generally have a higher floor-to-ceiling measurement before the second story begins. Also, ballrooms may be as high as 30 feet. Every floor of the hotel usually includes space of 2 to 4 feet between stories dedicated for ductwork, pipes and other service space.

Because there is no limit to the height of a story and a story could be 20 feet tall, the current law would allow for a 240-foot tall hotel building. 

The bill before my committee was proposed by the Planning Department. This bill intends to amend zoning standards for the hotel district in the Maui County Code. A proposed measure was to specify the maximum height of a hotel building in the H-2 zoning district to 180 feet. This would comply with Planning Department’s internal standard of 12 stories at 15 feet per story.

Proposed Bill to restrict building height to 180 ft

Other factors in determining building height are maximum lot coverage (currently 35 percent) and maximum floor-area ratio (currently 150 percent). Both factors would limit the height of a building. 

The following graphic would explain these limitations. Suppose you have a 20,000-square-foot lot zoned H-2 (minimum lot size for H-2 land). The maximum lot coverage your hotel building can have is 35 percent of the lot size, which equals 7,000 square feet.

The maximum floor area ratio you can have for the hotel is 150 percent of the lot size, which equals 30,000 square feet.

Because the maximum lot coverage is 7,000 square feet, you may build 4 stories of 7,000 square feet per story for a total of 28,000 square feet and 1 story with a maximum of 2,000 square feet. Other combinations may also be permitted as long as you don’t exceed the allowed maximum floor-area ratio of 30,000 square feet.

Maximum lot coverage, Maximum floor ratio

If you wanted to make the building higher, you may use a smaller portion of the maximum lot coverage. Using 3,500 square feet per story would allow for 8 stories. Usually, hotels consider a larger lot coverage for their lobbies and ground floors and divide the maximum floor-area ratio among the stories without exceeding 12 stories. If the proposed bill passes, the maximum height limit of 180 feet will be enforced. 

To achieve a higher building

There are few parcels of vacant land that have the H-2 zoning classification left in Maui County. This bill would allow us to preserve the County’s unique character and support community members who have testified to “keep Maui County, Maui County.”

As always, should you have any questions or concerns, please call my office at 270-7108 or email me at

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David Williams
January 26, 2014 at 7:54 AM
Since there are no 180 foot structures in hotel districts now, please do not change the law to allow this. Make the law " no more than 12 stories or 150 feet, whichever is less". Simple.

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