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New budget funds some solutions for West Maui

By Staff | Jul 13, 2017

Mahalo to all of the community members who participated in this year’s budget session. The three-month budget process is grueling and complicated, but is one of the most important jobs we as council members have, as it allows us to set priorities for the departments as we move into the next fiscal year. No council member gets everything on their “wish list,” but I’m satisfied that I was able to fund some solutions for West Maui, and for Maui Nui as a whole, in the 2018 budget. Here are some of the highlights:

Enforcement of illegally operating short-term rentals in Maui County – My proposal to fund better enforcement of illegally operating short-term rentals was unanimously supported by my fellow council members. Currently, there are over 10,000 single-family homes that are being rented out as un-permitted short-term rentals. That number is about a 25 percent increase from last year, and is a huge reason for the severe lack of long-term rentals for our local residents. Studies show that more than one in four residential units in Kihei and Lahaina are short-term rentals, and very few of them are legally operating, permitted operations. We approved $80,000 to hire a third party consultant to assist our Planning Department in identifying the illegally operating units and issuing notices of violation. If even a fraction of those units become available as long-term rentals to our local residents, it will quickly increase the inventory of long-term rentals on the market and hopefully make rents a bit less expensive. The Request for Proposals is currently being drafted by the Planning Department.

Funded the negotiated purchase for a public access to Honokeana Cove – Public beach access at Honokeana Cove has been an ongoing issue, and I was able to obtain $400,000 for negotiations to either purchase the entire adjacent vacant lot for beach parking and public access to the cove, or to purchase a portion of the lot as an access corridor to allow public access.

Recycling drop box facility in Lahaina – I was successful in securing funding for a year-long drop box facility operated by Lahaina International LLC at the old mill smokestack on Lahainaluna Road. The facility will be open six days a week, from 8:15 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. Monday through Friday, and will accept all recyclables except heavy metals, appliances and electronics. The cost to operate the facility for the year came in under $60,000. I made the choice to move the money from the once a month recycling events in order to operate this daily drop box facility, because I thought that it would better satisfy the needs of the West Maui community to have access to recycling six days a week. I do, however, recognize the high value to our community to have both services available. Due to that fact, I have been in talks with the Department of Environmental Management (DEM) to negotiate a way to fund both the dropbox facility and to have the monthly recycling events this year. In the meantime, this fiscal year I plan to work with the DEM to strategize expansion of the curbside recycling program to West Maui, and eventually island-wide. If we can get things in place for implementation by next budget session, we may have finally found success in reaching our district’s recycling goals.

Other adopted budget items for West Maui include: $100,000 for West Maui economic development and cultural programs; a $400,000 grant for restoration of Moku’ula and Mokuhunia with extensive council review and supervision; $725,000 for watershed protection in West Maui; $950,000 for Olowalu Landfill site restoration; $4.6 million for Napili wastewater pump station modifications; $24 million for Lahaina Wastewater Reclamation Facility modifications; $350,000 for a manual refuse truck for West Maui; $950,000 for the West Maui parks system (for design, construction and rebuilding of parking lots at Launiupoko Beach Park and Hanakao’o Beach Park, and design, construction and renovations for Lahaina Aquatic Center); $5 million for West Maui reliable capacity Mahinahina well development; and $20,000 for a jet ski, sled and trailer to be utilized in West Maui at commercial ocean recreation activity beaches.