DOES THE MAUI ISLAND PLAN EVEN STILL EXIST?
We’re reaching what will hopefully be the end of the Maui Island Plan approval process. The last Maui County Council utterly failed to pass the plan in their two years, so the fact that this council seems on the cusp of approving the sweeping document–which will outline the course of land development for Maui over the next generation–by Dec. 31 seems to be a laudable achievement in itself.
Of course, this is the not the plan first drawn up by the General Plan Advisory Committee (GPAC) just a few years ago. That much was clear to me just by reading various news accounts and periodic email updates from activists during the County Council’s General Plan Committee from the last few months. But then I received a concise email from Dick Mayer, a longtime good-government activist and GPAC member. His take on just how far the plan has come is both informative and depressing:
First, Mayer wrote that the plan’s “Implementation chapter” as well as the Appendix, which contained a list of necessary capital improvement projects, is no longer in the plan. According to Mayer, this means that “the plan has no financial component.”
Secondly, Mayer said that “most of the maps at the end of each chapter have been reduced in importance by renaming them ‘diagrams.’” What’s more, Mayer wrote that the plan now includes language “stating that these maps have no force of law and are merely for ‘informational purposes.’”
Third, the plan’s ‘Protection Areas’ [what should have been the strongest part of the plan] on the maps now include designations that Mayer says “aren’t enforceable by law.” This includes terms “Greenways,” “Green Belts,” “Parks,” “Preservation Areas” and “Sensitive Lands.”
Lastly, and most depressingly, came this paragraph:
“GPAC and the Maui Planning Commission worked hard to construct Urban and Rural Growth Boundaries that would provide more than enough area to accommodate all of the needed demand for housing units, but NOT so large that it would become very costly for the County and State to provide the needed infrastructure,” Mayer wrote. “Unfortunately, The General Plan Committee has not bothered to consider infrastructure costs and has greatly expanded those growth boundaries to satisfy the requests of a number of developers, none of whom provided any details on what they are planning to do within these expanded boundaries.”
Mayer then included a few examples of development acreages above and beyond the original GPAC proposals:
• 390 additional acres for Makena Resort’s luxury homes
• 200 acres above the Waikapu golf courses for luxury homes
• 230 acres around the Ulupalakua Ranch headquarters
• All the remaining open space between Wailuku and Waikapu
• 330 acres around Haliimaile for Alexander & Baldwin and Maui Land & Pineapple Co.
So yeah. The Maui County Council public hearing on all all this at 9am on Tues., Nov. 27. There had been talk about holding the hearing at night so working folks could attend, but like a lot of the Maui Island Plan, that turned out to be just talk.
MEGA MALLS ‘DIFFERENT’ FROM LIGHT INDUSTRIAL PARKS
Here’s some more fun with zoning. According to The Maui News, on Nov. 16, state Office of Planning official Rodney Funakoshi testified before the state Land Use Commission that Eclipse Development, which wants to build mega malls on land in Kihei originally designated as Light Industrial, should have gone to the LUC when it changed plans because those projects are “different.”
This isn’t exactly a surprise, and is welcome news for those opposed to the massive retail malls, but The Maui News story did contain the following revelation that does lend some sympathy to Eclipse.
“[Developer attorney Jonathan] Steiner then asked Funakoshi what percentage of the project needed to be in light industrial to comply with the 1995 conditions,” The Maui News reported on Nov. 17. “Funakoshi replied that there was no exact proportion, to which Steiner asked: How is the landowner supposed to know if it is in compliance or not?”
Neither the paper nor Funakoshi nor the LUC apparently provided an answer, which is also not surprising.
In honor of the holiday this week, I’d like to give thanks to a few individuals over on Oahu, where I spent last weekend for a much-needed vacation. First, thank you to the individuals at the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum, who showed much wisdom and courage when they decided to exhibit a particularly remarkable bowl in the Hawaiian Hall.
The bowl, which is off in the corner of the second level, is made mostly of wood. I say mostly because bored into the bowl are about a dozen human molars. The bowl, the card at the exhibit says, was a spittoon or refuse container, used by someone who wished to “denigrate” the memory of a slain adversary.
That, to put it mildly, is hardcore. It’s funny how pervasive the marketing of Hawaiian culture truly is: we see so many luaus and other examples of the generosity and compassion that it’s quite easy to forget that ancient Hawaiian warriors were susceptible to the same brutal impulses that govern soldiers around the world today.
Okay, my second thanks is not so solemn. It goes out to the two workers over at Honolulu International Airport who made hanging out in the terminal so much fun. So much of flying commercially these days (really, over the last decade or so) has become a drudgery that it often hardly seems worth the effort. Tickets are expensive, and airlines are great at finding ways to charge travelers ridiculous fees for services once considered free. Security procedures seem both deadly serious and laughably arbitrary.
Which is why it was such a joy to see these two workers on break, hanging out in the terminal with a dollar bill hooked to a length of fishing line. One would drop the bill casually in the middle of a high-traffic corridor, then sit down a few yards away and wait. When an unsuspecting traveler would walk by, see the bill and reach down to grab it, the worker would yank on the line.
Immature? Probably. Unprofessional? Almost certainly. But sitting and watching those guys this weekend pull that bill away from people as they grabbed for it, I felt happy, and it’s been a long time since I’ve felt that inside an airport terminal.