Make the West Maui Community Plan a true decision-making resource
As West Side County Councilwoman Elle Cochran noted in a recent column, the Maui County Planning Department is gearing up for the West Maui Community Plan update process.
Twenty years have passed since the last update of the plan that “… reflects current and anticipated conditions in West Maui and advances planning goals, objectives, policies and implementation considerations to guide decision-making in the region… ” the document states.
Councilwoman Cochran reported that the Planning Department has initiated stakeholder interviews and will soon seek input from everyone who has an interest in participating.
She wrote, “This is a great opportunity for everyone to weigh in and help shape the West Maui community of tomorrow.”
We were there when the Lahaina Citizens Advisory Committee updated the 1982 version of the West Side plan. The late Andrea Heath-Blundell, Randy Draper, Louise Rockett and 11 other volunteers met 17 times during a 225-day deliberation process to identify, formulate and recommend appropriate revisions to the then-Lahaina Community Plan.
Those who followed the process watched as the panel thoughtfully dissected the plan. Based on comments from residents, their biggest decision was to designate North Beach (between the Sheraton Maui Resort and Spa and Aston Mahana at Kaanapali) as open space.
CAC members were deeply disappointed as the plan was subsequently gutted by the Planning Department and County Council. Construction soon began at both ends of North Beach.
Twenty years later, West Maui has changed dramatically. Pioneer Mill Co. shut down in 1999, and Maui Land & Pineapple Co. ceased pineapple operations in 2009. It is a good time to consider the future of these lands and the water resources that supplied them.
The more recently reviewed Maui Island Plan that outlines growth on the island through the year 2030 charts some 5,000 to 6,000 new units in West Maui. Do these projections account for needed affordable housing and infrastructure?
So yes – a review of the West Maui Community Plan is needed. This time around, planners should listen to the people who live here, help draft a sensible plan and actually use it to guide future decision-making. Otherwise, the upcoming process will be another waste of time.