Bills look to address Maui County concerns ranging from roadway safety to vacation rentals
Maui County Council Chairwoman Alice Lee also was at the state Capitol for Wednesday’s opening day of the 2020 legislative session, presenting a package of 15 bills.
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Maui County Council Chairwoman Alice Lee also was at the state Capitol for Wednesday’s opening day of the 2020 legislative session, presenting a package of 15 bills on topics ranging from taxation and roadway safety to regulation of hosting platforms for unpermitted vacation rentals and sea level rise.
The package also includes a resolution urging Congress to allow Hawaiian homesteads to be direct recipients of federal housing block grants.
Other bills in the package would increase funding to support agriculture statewide, extend the $5 million-per-year tax credit for the upgrading of cesspools through 2025, authorize remote schools like Hana High & Elementary School to receive supplemental funding and lower the drunken driving threshold of blood alcohol concentration to 0.05 from 0.08.
Other bills would amend the allocation of transient accommodations tax revenue to more adequately cover the counties’ support of public services to the visitor industry.
For bill numbers, visit mauicounty.us.
Two active community groups on Maui provided the Honolulu Star-Advertiser with their top district concerns.
West Maui Taxpayers Association
>> Full health care services in the region have long been a priority for the West Maui community, and a developer’s recent decision not to pursue construction of a hospital and emergency room means “lives are being tragically impacted negatively at this time and needlessly lost due to isolation, distance and time to get to an emergency room,” according to WTMA President Joseph Pluta.
He said the state and county should step in and “incentivize” a free-standing, 24/7 ER in West Maui, working with Maui Memorial Medical Center and developers of the Pulelehua residential/commercial project for a location and subsidy support.
>> Affordable housing has been an escalating crisis for over 20 years in West Maui, with more than 7,000 vehicles traveling to the area daily as workers face long commutes from other parts of the island due to the scarcity of affordable rentals near their jobs, Pluta said.
The county and state should remove the “expensive obstacles and restrictions” to meaningful development of affordable housing alternatives he said, and the county should subsidize infrastructure costs for affordable housing developments and work more closely with developers to resolve differences.
>> To ease homelessness, Pluta said leaders should seek public-private partnerships with existing proven programs such as Ka Hale a ke Ola Homeless Resource Center. “Their facilities should be tripled in size capacity” with county and state funding, he said.
Kihei Community Association
>> Requested traffic improvements related to the Kihei High School now under construction mauka of Piilani Highway include state funding to study and design a pedestrian underpass/overpass across the highway as required by the state Land Use Commission. The Kihei community prefers an underpass to an overpass as it would be safer, less expensive and significantly more attractive than an overpass, according to KCA President Mike Moran.
The association would also like to see lawmakers approve funds for design of a four-lane roundabout with pedestrian signals at the intersection/entrance to the new school. Moran said this is preferred over a standard four-lane stoplight intersection, and studies have shown roundabouts are more efficient in slowing traffic, providing optimal traffic flow and preventing accidents and deaths.
>> To improve nearshore water quality along the South Maui coast, Moran said the county should reduce reliance on the Kihei Wastewater Reclamation Facility’s injection well and redirect treated wastewater to irrigation. In addition, leaching from cesspools and septic systems makai of Piilani Highway should be identified and corrected, focusing on those near Kalama Beach Park.
The association also wants to see a pathway provided to replace the Maui Meadows on-site wastewater system with a county sewer line, and a watershed and drainage plan to capture stormwater runoff and allow infiltration mauka of the highway.