NO PARKING IN WAILUKU?
It’s been on, then off, then back on again and now it seems it’s off again, though it may come back on… again… sometime… maybe. It’s the proposed Wailuku Municipal Parking Structure, people, and though county planners were touting it as a done-deal barely a year ago, that project is now deader than former South Maui state Representative Joe Bertram’s political career.
Seriously, they’ve been planning this thing for years, which was supposed to replace the current 210-space Wailuku Municipal Parking Lot with a 426-space parking garage. In fact, the county has already spent about $1.2 million of federal money on designs (of course, with the federal debt running at close to $16 trillion, $1.2 million is couch change). And now it’s no more.
“There are no funds available for construction right now, and I don’t see in the foreseeable future that coming through,” Maui County Public Works Director David Goode (who used to be a land developer and Public Works Director under previous administrations) said in the Aug. 18 Maui News.
For those of us who haven’t successfully incorporated public transportation into our lives, the parking lot is a sad fact of life. Originally built on land the County of Maui seized through eminent domain, the current Wailuku lot fills up every weekday before 8am with cars mostly belonging to county employees (MauiTime rents office space in a building that borders the parking lot). During most days, Maui Police Officer Keith Taguma rumbles through the lot on his new Harley-Davidson Motor Trike, chalking tires and writing tickets that impose greater fines than those incurred by parking more than two hours on nearby streets.
Seriously, think about that last paragraph a moment. A County of Maui police officer gives out an insane number of parking tickets every day to County of Maui employees who work for and with the people trying to develop a larger parking garage in Wailuku. And this has gone on, without interruption, for years.
“[W]hoever has control over that lot has the moral obligation to do what’s best for the public’s interest,” then-Maui Redevelopment Agency (MRA) Vice Chairman Lloyd Poelman said six years ago, at a June 21, 2006 MRA hearing on–you guessed it!–proposals to develop the Wailuku lot into a parking garage.
And I didn’t even mention the insanity of building a parking garage on the site of the only really accessible parking lot in town. Where the people who currently use the park were supposed to park during the year and a half of construction (assuming all goes well) was the biggest unanswered question at every planning hearing on the thing.
So… yeah. And that would normally be the end of the story, except County Communications Director Rod Antone says the parking garage may come back as part of a new start-up incubator for the tech crowd that likes to windsurf and play on Maui.
“We’re hoping Wailuku will be a place where they can work,” Antone told me. “We’re trying to get federal money for an incubator/garage. We want this to be more than a parking garage.”
JUSTICE FOR NA WAI ‘EHA STREAM FLOWS?
This week’s cover story deals with the Hawaii Supreme Court from a generation ago, and the brave, often lonely fight for justice waged by the late Justice Edward Nakamura, so it was quite nice to read late last week that the current justices still seem committed to protecting those of us who don’t happen to run major agricultural conglomerates. Or at least, they were on Aug. 15 when they unanimously ruled that the state Commission on Water Resource Management hadn’t done a very good job of management back in 2010.
The issue then, and now, dealt with how much water from the four Na Wai ‘Eha streams–‘Iao, Waiehu, Waihe‘e and Waikapu–goes to the sugar giants Wailuku Water Co. and Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar (HC&S) and how much goes to small families, taro farmers or just stays in the stream and flows all the way to the ocean. In 2010, the commission ruled that only a third of the stream water would be restored, which basically gave Wailuku Water and HC&S what they wanted and shanked the individuals and families whose reliance on that water predates the grand-scale cultivation of sugar in Hawaii.
“The court found that the water commission’s June 2010 decision to restore little or none of the stream flows currently diverted by two private companies was lacking on every key point,” said an Aug. 16 press release from Isaac Moriwake of Earthjustice, John Duey of Hui o Na Wai ‘Eha and Irene Bowie of Maui Tomorrow. “The court ruled the commission failed to give proper consideration to Native Hawaiians’ and the public’s rights to flowing streams. The court also ruled the commission needed to further pursue available alternatives to draining the streams such as using non-potable wells and recycled wastewater and eliminating waste.”
Of course, this is one of those process victories that merely sets up a new fight. Now, as the Aug. 19 Maui News reported, the commission will have to go back to come up with a new stream diversion plan, but it may not break in Earthjustice, et al’s favor. “The amount of water returned to the streams could be higher or even lower, but either way, [new commission member Jonathan] Starr said that people with appurtenant water rights will have first dibs.” And that includes people with “traditional land practice claims dating back to the monarchy days.”
When all this shakes out is impossible to say. Still, the court decision has plaintiffs nearly giddy with anticipation.
“When I look at ‘Iao and Waikapu Streams, they’re bone-dry, nothing but skeletal remains,” said Rose Marie Ho‘oululahui Lindsey Duey of Hui o Na Wai ‘Eha in the Aug. 16 press release. “The supreme court’s decision restores my hope that the law stands for something, and that each of Na Wai ‘Eha’s four streams will flow like justice from mauka [mountain] to makai [ocean].”