Friday AM in Council Chambers (12/4/15)

A major portion of this regular scheduled Council meeting was devoted to public testimony on the wide variety of issues. While several of them were of concern to KCA, we offered no new testimony, much due to logistics and limitations.

Some County wide ones were also our concerns, e.g PIA Committee Report 15-171 moving forward the special committee on governance, which we continue to support, and 15-292 going toward eradication of Coqui Frogs, and others specific to our area, Communication 15-291 a Resolution in support of the Kihei Charter Schools.

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See http://www.mauicounty.gov/ArchiveCenter/ViewFile/Item/21007.

 

Report from Saturday’s Maui News:

Special Committee on County Governance formed

December 5, 2015
By MELISSA TANJI – Staff Writer (mtanji@mauinews.com) , The Maui News

WAILUKU – The Maui County Council on Friday approved 11 county residents to sit on a Special Committee on County Governance that will examine various forms of government for the county, which could include a county manager system.

The approval of the resolution Friday starts the clock ticking as the committee, made up of residents from each council district and two at-large positions, will have 180 days to report back to the council on its findings. This could give enough time to possibly place a charter amendment on the general election ballot in November. The committee’s first meeting is set for 1:30 p.m. Thursday in Council Chambers.

The business and community leaders on the panel include: Jonathan Starr, Renee Kehau Filimoe’atu, Linda Kay Okamoto, James J.C. “Kimo” Haynes III, Paula Friel, Ray Phillips, Doreen Pua Canto, Anthony “Tony” Takitani, Tamara Paltin, Madge Schaefer and David “Dave” DeLeon.

There has been a movement recently to change the current mayor-council system of governance to a council-county manager system, where the elected council hires a professional manager to run the county.

In other matters, five bills proposed by Mayor Alan Arakawa’s administration to help curb “nuisance” behavior sometimes associated with homeless people were referred to the council’s Policy and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee. No meetings have been scheduled on the bills so far.

In announcing the proposed bills earlier this week, the Arakawa administration said that the measures were aimed at helping police enforce laws prohibiting drinking in public areas, urinating or defecating in public, lying down on public sidewalks, stealing shopping carts and aggressive begging.

The bills are part of the Arakawa administration’s effort to respond to homeless issues in Maui County by capitalizing on Gov. David Ige’s Oct. 16 emergency proclamation, which suspends some state and county rules, regulations and laws to facilitate housing the homeless across the state.

The Arakawa administration also is proposing temporary shelters for the homeless, transitional housing and workforce housing.

In other business, the council on first reading voted to repeal a county requirement for an environmental assessment with the issuance of new permits for commercial ocean recreational activities. The amendment would open up the process to those other than current permit holders. Under state law, there is no requirement for an environmental assessment for commercial ocean recreational activity, according to council documents. No other county in Hawaii requires an environmental assessment for the permits.

Some testifiers Friday expressed concern about the bill’s impact on current permit holders and questioned the need for the amendment now given parks department plans to revamp the rules.

But Don Guzman, chairman of the Economic Development, Energy, Agriculture and Recreation Committee, which recommended approving the amendment, said that the committee received assurances from the parks department that the bill would not impact current permit holders.

The intent of the bill is to allow the county to fill several open permits, which have been available for years, Guzman said. The granting of the permits will not exceed current cap limits, council members added.

The council also:

* Passed two measures on first reading that will facilitate a $1.22 million acquisition of a property in Wailuku to expand the county campus. The bills amend the budget to reflect the $1.22 million appropriation for the acquisition of the 17,666 square-foot property at 2154 Kaohu St. in Wailuku. The lot includes two dwellings.

* Passed three bills and two resolutions to double the size of the Kula Agricultural Park. The $6 million purchase would add 373 acres. The purchase would be funded by $5 million from the state and $1 million from the county. Local farmers rent land at the park and grow crops including Kula onions, flowers, landscape and nursery products and vegetables. The three bills require a second vote for approval.

Bills heard on first reading Friday are scheduled to be put up for their second and final votes at the Dec. 18 council meeting.

* Melissa Tanji can reached at mtanji@mauinews.com.

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