Laub: County over-regulation stifles Maui businesses
LAHAINA — Citing “a desperate need to reduce county regulation that is currently strangling small businesses and holding back literally thousands of jobs,” Paul Laub is running for the West Maui seat on the County Council.
He faces a crowded field in Lahaina residents Eleanora K. Cochran, Alan A. Fukuyama, Ezekiela I. Kalua and Jonah K. Kapu, who, as of press time, all filed to run in the nonpartisan contest for the two-year seat.
Laub, 65, believes county government bureaucracy hurts the business community.
“It breaks my heart to see people losing their homes and jobs when I know full well that the over-regulation that has built up layer by layer over the decades has contributed greatly to this situation. Much of the current economic misery in this county is caused by county over-regulation,” he commented.
“Many jobs are held up and even lost due to the amount of time it takes applications to go through the various county departments. In some cases, it takes years! We need to simplify the planning process so that any average person can process their own papers without the need for help from expensive outside professionals,” he continued.
“Let’s set a cap on the time that the various departments have to disapprove the plans. If they are not disapproved for cause during that time limit, then they should be automatically approved.”
Laub feels renewable energy and local agriculture are important opportunities for Maui County.
He said the county should pursue PACE (property assessed clean energy), where the county provides the initial money — funded through bonds — for residents to switch to solar power.
Homeowners support clean energy, companies gain work installing the systems and the county recoups the funds through property taxes.
“There are a lot of jobs available with these projects,” he added.
Laub, who owns and operates Recycled Bikes & Boards in Lahaina, doesn’t understand why the county opposes home-based businesses.
“It is currently illegal to work from your home. A lot of people have lost their jobs in this down economy. They have skills that can be useful in creating a small business — a start up from a garage, or spare room in their home,” he said.
“We need a home occupation ordinance that will allow this. Of course, we do not want toxic fumes or loud noise, but there are so many forms of business that would be very compatible with a residential community.”
In a time when new businesses are needed to provide jobs, owners face red tape at the County Building.
“It currently takes in excess of 30 days to get a Certificate of Occupancy for a commercial property, even if the use is the exact same as the previous business,” Laub explained.
“We really should consider reducing the number of approving agencies from the current 11 to just three: Fire, Planning and Building. This gets businesses up and running sooner, and that gives it a chance to survive.”
Laub feels that Maui County could support the construction industry and increase property tax revenues by improving water resource management. There are 3,000 local property owners on a waiting list for water meters.
Calling the 2009-10 school year’s Furlough Fridays in Hawaii’s public schools an “outrage,” Laub believes the Board of Education should move from the state to the county level.
“Our SAT scores are among the lowest in the nation. We really should consider bringing our School Board to the county level — currently at state level — so that we can have more local control. Let locals decide what is best for their children,” he commented.
Known as “Pali the Recycled Bike Guy” for his unique business, Laub earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Anthropology from California State University, Northridge, and also studied at the UCLA Graduate School of Business. He is also a licensed commercial pilot and Hawaii State-certified substitute teacher.
Laub has been involved with the ‘Ohana Coalition, Maui Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce, Maui Chamber of Commerce, West Maui Taxpayers Association, LahainaTown Action Committee and Hui O Wa‘a Kaulua.
He has hosted reef management classes for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on the West Side, and Laub attended and testified at many General Plan Advisory Committee and Maui Island Plan meetings.
The goal of his recycled bicycle shop is “to get people into sustainable transportation and out of automobiles,” he explained.
To help the community, he gives bicycles to needy children and hires workers through Maui Economic Opportunity’s BEST (Being Empowered and Safe Together) Reintegration Program for inmates leaving Maui Community Correctional Center.
As a board member for the Maui Vacation Rental Association, Laub helped develop Maui County’s current Bed and Breakfast Ordinance.
He currently serves on the Maui County Board of Code Appeals and as a member of the West Maui Veterans Club.
“My greatest honor was being elected president of the Maui County Veterans Council by the presidents and representatives of all of the Maui County veterans organizations. I served in the U.S. Army from 1967 to ’69,” he noted.
“As a veteran, I cherish our liberties and do whatever is necessary for all of the people. My vision is for our islands to become self-sustaining, with a responsive government that is designed to help its people.”
As a frequent swimmer, Laub supports regulating commercial collection and exportation of reef fish for hobby aquariums, and reuse of treated sewage at county wastewater facilities.
“We are losing our beautiful reefs. They are dying. It would be wonderful to see our waters returned to pristine and teeming with fish! All of these things are possible to be mitigated by good governance,” he said.
In his free time, Laub enjoys swimming, kayaking, bicycling and spending time with his family.
He is interested in the diverse cultures and languages here and enjoy practicing Japanese, Tagalog and Tongan, as well as learning Hawaiian language and culture from Kumu Keali‘i Taua.
If elected, Laub pledges “to work hard and faithfully for you — the people.
“I bring with me my family, deep local friendships and ties, experience as a businessman of 40 years without ever missing a payroll. My vision, drive and the ability to work and play well with others means, as a team, we can get it done… I believe we need energetic and bold leadership on the council. I stand ready answer the call,” he concluded.
For information, visit www.PaulLaub.com.