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2021 is shaping up to be a busy year for P. Denise La Costa. And she couldn’t be happier.

La Costa, owner and principal broker of La Costa Realty Hawaii, was recently appointed by Gov. David Ige to serve as the Maui County commissioner on the Hawaii Real Estate Commission. She will bring nearly three decades of real estate experience to the nine-member volunteer body. “I am humbled and excited to serve,” she said.

The commission is one of 25 professional boards and commissions administratively attached to the state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs through the Professional and Vocational Licensing Division. The division’s Real Estate Branch regulates real estate matters prescribed by the state; the Hawaii Real Estate Commission makes decisions prescribed by statute.

Without question, the commission has a big job to do. It is responsible for the licensure, education and discipline of real estate agents; registration of prelicense schools, continuing education providers, condominium projects, condominium associations, condominium managing agents and condominium hotel operators; and certification of prelicense and continuing education courses and prelicense instructors.

Additionally, the commission is authorized to make specific rules to regulate the professional conduct of brokers and salespersons, inspect client trust funds, suspend or revoke licenses and fine licensees for violations of license laws and rules.

It is also responsible for administering the real estate recovery fund, real estate education fund and the condominium education trust fund. In addition to these broad general powers, the commission has many more specific duties, including developing examinations for broker and salesperson applicants; monitoring the activities of real estate schools, providers and instructors; publishing and distributing reports; and intervening and defending in court cases involving the real estate recovery fund. The nine commissioners meet on the last Friday of every month and the open sessions (which are currently held on Zoom) are publicly viewable.

La Costa says she sees industry-related rules or laws that could or should be tweaked or changed. “Having a voice on the commission can help facilitate that,” she said.

And this isn’t her first (or only) commissionership.

In March of 2018, La Costa was nominated by then-Mayor Alan Arakawa and confirmed by the Maui County Council to serve on the Maui Planning Commission.

The all-volunteer, nine-member commission is responsible for advising the mayor, Maui County Council members and the county planning director on matters concerning planning programs on Maui Island and its adjacent waters (Lanai and Molokai are not within its purview, as both islands have their own planning commissions). The commission also reviews general and community plans (as well as any revisions prepared by the planning director or at the request of the council) and after public hearings are held, transmits its findings and recommendations to the county council for consideration and action. Additionally, the Maui Planning Commission reviews proposed land use ordinances and amendments prepared by the planning director or by the Maui County Council, and after public hearings, submits its findings and recommendations to the county council for consideration and action; it also acts as the authority in all matters relating to the coastal zone management law and adopts rules pursuant to land use ordinances or law.

Since she came on board, La Costa has spent countless hours researching proposed projects, poring over documents and listening to public testimony so she can make important decisions for Maui’s present and future. “I love the place I live and I will do everything I can to make sure Maui stays nō ka ‘oi,” she said.

Serving on not one but two commissions can be both time-consuming and arduous, but La Costa is up to the task. “I’ll do whatever I can to help make the real estate industry better for everyone,” she said.

To learn more about the Hawaii Real Estate Commission, visit For more information about the Maui Planning Commission, visit

The Maui News – February 1, 2021

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