The Maui County Cultural Resources Commission will hold public meetings beginning next month to discuss revisions to the guidelines for signs in the Lahaina Historic Districts. “We are working to balance competing interests–the need for businesses to advertise and promote themselves, and the need to preserve the historic integrity of the Lahaina Historic Districts,” said Planning Director Will Spence in a June 19 news release.
Commercial signs in the Lahaina Historic Districts require permits issued by the Department of Planning. The existing design guidelines were last revised in 2001 and are based largely on the “Architectural Style Book for Lahaina” that was adopted by the then-Historic Commission in 1969. “These guidelines provide detail for allowable materials, colors, fonts and other design elements,” said Deputy Planning Director Michele McLean in that same news release. “However, they contain contradictions and are focused almost completely on the whaling theme rather than allowing signs that are characteristic of Lahaina’s many other historic periods.”
Design guidelines prohibit any signage that is not compatible with Lahaina Town’s historic character. The CRC regulations—which can conflict with bold graphics used by many business owners—require that signs match the historic look of buildings and locations.
The CRC will discuss revisions to the guidelines so they will be more clear and consistent, allow a broader choice of materials and design elements, and can be more easily enforced. “Updating the design guidelines is long overdue, and the CRC is doing a really solid job,” said Spence.
The Maui County Department of Planning, which staffs the CRC, has taken initiatives over the years to educate property and business owners about the guidelines and the permit process, before taking any enforcement action for unpermitted or illegal signs. The Department will proceed with enforcement of unpermitted and illegal signs once the new guidelines are in place. In the meantime, however, certain illegal signs that are specifically prohibited, such as lighted signs and portable signs, will continue to be cited.
The first meeting will be held on Thursday, July 3, at 10:30am in the Planning Department Conference Room in the Kalana Pakui building at 250 South High Street in Wailuku. Planning staff encourage property and business owners to participate in the process in order to fully understand the new guidelines when they are adopted. Spence said that the Department hopes the CRC meetings will inform the public about the new guidelines and encourage compliance once they are adopted.
Members of the CRC’s appointed sign design guideline investigative committee are retired museum director Gaylord Kubota, archaeologist Janet Six, musician Owana Salazar and architect Frank Skowronski.
To view the proposed guidelines, visit Mauicounty.gov/Planning, then select “Draft Lahaina Sign Design Guidelines” under the “Hot Topics” header. For more information on the public meetings, call the Department of Planning at 808-270-7735.
Photo: TastyPoutine/Wikimedia Commons