Thursday, February 01, 2024














Lahaina Community Land Trust Seeks To ‘Keep Lahaina Lands In Lahaina Hands’

Maui Now - January 23, 2024

Details of a Lahaina Community Land Trust are now available as Lahaina residents seek to protect and/or reclaim lands after the Aug. 8 wildfire disaster. The model also seeks to enable the restoration of indigenous stewardship to certain lands.

“It was frightening to hear. We heard reports from other communities about investors coming in after a disaster and buying up parcels of land from families who were out of options and had nothing left to their name but their land,” said Tamara Paltin, founding president of Lahaina Community Land Trust.

Before the Aug. 8 fire had even been extinguished, many Lahaina residents worried about the long term fate of their town.  Pre-fire land prices – driven by investments, speculators, and off-island purchases – were already out of reach for most Lahaina residents.

“We were already seeing that happen even before the fire, and we were worried that the fire had the potential to make whole sections of Lahaina even more vulnerable to that kind of thing. We knew we had to act fast if we were going to organize against it,” said Paltin.

As the scope of the fire damage became clear, reports circulated of residents receiving unsolicited offers for their land from off-island investors, prompting a few Lahaina-rooted leaders to think ahead about how to protect Lahaina from disaster capitalism.

According to their website, “Community land trusts are nonprofits that buy and own land with the purpose of keeping it in community control, to be used as the community determines. The buildings and homes on the land can be owned by individual families but are tethered to the land trust by a lease with terms determined by the trust. This allows the CLT and its members to make sure that the property is protected forever, and that it is used for purposes that serve the community, whatever the community decides that is: housing, culture, agriculture, etc..”

Lahaina Community Land Trustʻs motto is clear: We hold space, not displace.

“Ultimately, we want Lahaina residents to hold on to their land through the clean-up and rebuild of our community.  We also know that as time goes on, some residents will have to make hard decisions, including to sell their land. And in those cases, we hope Lahaina Community Land Trust can offer an option, allowing them to sell their land in to the trust, to the community instead of an investor.  To sell in, not sell out,” explained Carolyn Auweloa, Lahaina Community Land Trust’s secretary.  

Hereʻs how it works: 

Governing and advisory boards of the trust will be filled by community members who represent Lahaina.

A property owner decides to sell their property.

The Lahaina Community Land Trust offers to purchase the property as an alternative to a purchase by profit-driven investors.


When the future of Lahaina becomes clearer, after clean-up, community input helps the trust decide the best use of purchased parcels; housing, cultural, community, recreational uses, etc. Itʻs all about empowering the community to guide the future use of these lands.   

Housing on lands owned by the trust can be built, purchased or leased at affordable rates to members of the community based on criteria determined by the trust. Prices are kept affordable because it doesnʻt include the price of the land. Owners can build equity on their home, but agree to sell the home at affordable prices.

“Every time a parcel of land in our community is sold to an off-island investor, our community loses that much more control of our future.  Before the fires, our neighborhoods and town centers have increasingly reflected the interests of folks who donʻt live here, driven by profit instead of the interests of people living and raising families here. By keeping those lands truly in Lahaina hands, we can empower the people of Lahaina to decide what they want their neighborhoods and town center to look like, and what kind of values they want to reflect in our community,” said Kapali Keahi, Treasurer of Lahaina Community Land Trust.

Lahaina Community Land Trustʻs founding board members are Lahaina-rooted leaders, who intend to build the foundation of the organization now, so when the basic needs of Lahaina residents are met, and they finally have the capacity to dream about their townʻs future, the trust will be ready to engage them.

“We are building the scaffolding and holding space for our fellow community members now, so we can have bigger, inclusive conversations when our impacted community members are ready,” suggested Mikey Burke, ally and advocate of the newly formed land trust.  

To learn more about the Lahaina Community Land Trust, donate, or sign up to volunteer, please go to:

Inquiries can be made via email to