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Meet the West Maui Community Plan Advisory Committee, Part III

By Staff | May 16, 2019

WEST MAUI – The makeup of the 13-member West Maui Community Plan Advisory Committee (CPAC) was determined last year through a recruitment process with Mayor Alan Arakawa appointing four and the Maui County Council selecting nine.

Since then, Mayor Michael Victorino has confirmed Arakawa nominations Jeri Dean, Aina Kohler, Hans Michael and Dylan Payne.

There was a month-long call last summer for West Siders to submit applications for consideration by the council. The deadline was on July 16, and 15 residents applied.

After interviews before the council’s Policy, Economic Development and Agricultural Committee, Joseph Aquino, Ravi Bugga, Yvette Joyce Celiz, Karen Comcowich, Donald Robert Gerbig, Dawn Hegger-Nordbloom, Kai Nishiki, Joe Pluta and Leilani Reyes Pulmano were chosen to serve.

In the last two editions, the Lahaina News introduced the four mayoral appointees and four of the nine selected by the County Council. This week, the Lahaina News will present the final five.

Don Gerbig has lived in Kahana for almost 18 years and prior to that Olowalu. He is a former employee of Pioneer Mill and Amfac. He has served on the Board of Water Supply and on a state Department of Agriculture pesticide advisory committee.

Gerbig’s stance on development in West Maui is grounded in reason. He wants to ensure that any building can be supported by our infrastructure.

Before the council, he testified in September last year. “I think that’s one of the biggest priorities that we have is we can’t build houses if we don’t have enough sewage disposal or we have enough drinking water plus the fact that we want to ensure that we’re not polluting the ocean and the beaches, because that’s our livelihood.”

In an e-mail to Lahaina News, he wrote, “My knowledge of the area and current infrastructure, after living here for over 15 years, will be a big plus in the evaluation of development.”

According to her website, kekaiplanning.com, Dawn Hegger-Nordblom is a professional with 15 years of experience “as a senior Hawaii urban planner, government liaison and community outreach officer.” Her education, experience and expertise, as listed on her website, indicates that she will be a well-qualified CPAC contributor.

She is a Kapalua resident and the step-mother of two.

Her testimony before the council was lengthy, but her point was reached when she observed, “I don’t think any of us would have applied if we weren’t really interested in being able to shape West Maui.

“I have to say,” she further advised, “I’ve seen a lot of plans through my work for DLNR, and plans are only as good as long as you can implement them.”

Kai Nishiki has been a strong presence on the West Side for about seven years. She champions on Facebook issues related to beach access and shoreline protection through her various pages, including Na Papa’i Wawae ‘Ula’ula and Access Denied! Surf?Fish?Dive?

The 47-year-old stood the line at Olowalu to stop the construction of another seawall along the Highway 30 shoreline corridor and successfully challenged rogue construction activity at Napili Bay.

The daughter of former Councilman Wayne Nishiki has three children, who all attended or now attend Lahainaluna High School.

The community activist is goal-oriented.

“I will advocate for the needs of our residents and to improve the quality of life for West Maui. Our community, while bringing in the most money from tourism, also struggles with the impacts of the visitor industry – lack of affordable rentals and attainable home ownership, horrendous traffic.

“Our only highway,” Nishiki continued, “is falling into the ocean, sewer and water lines are threatened by erosion and sea level rise. Our keiki need more parks, recreational areas, clean oceans, streams and beach access.

“Opportunities to grow our own food through a focus on agriculture and stream restoration are important. I’m committed to protecting our Maui community from the intense greed that is jeopardizing our quality of life now and into the future.”

With almost four decades of close encounters of the West Side kine, Joe Pluta has plenty of experience and “a unique perspective to offer to the CPAC.”

The Wahikuli resident testified before the council: “I’m currently president of the West Maui Taxpayers (Association), founding board member and been involved in all kinds of efforts in West Maui”

He offered his reasons on why he is qualified.

“I have seen many things that were needed in our community and actively pursued obtaining them After investing over half of my life to serving the West Maui community, I am looking forward to bringing that knowledge to CPAC,” he said.

Additionally, he has been meeting for the past 20 years on Kaanapali 2020.

Leilani Reyes Pulmano has lived in West Maui for 16 years; she resides in Kahana.

“My background is planning and permitting,” she testified before the council.

She worked for Maui Land and Pineapple Co. Inc. in community development and with Munekiyo and Hiraga as project manager.

“I currently sit on the board of Hawaii Housing Finance Development Corporation. So, the reason why I applied is that I believe that this process to be an important process. It sets the tone and our future vision for West Maui. I’ve been involved in the Maui Island Plan process and have attended several of the technical meetings leading up to this committee process,” she explained.

CPAC meetings to re-write and update the West Maui Community Plan are anticipated to commence this summer. Schedules have not been established.To sign up for e-mail updates, visit www.wearemaui.org and complete the “Sign Up for Updates” section of the front page.