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LETTERS for the Feb. 18 issue

By Staff | Feb 19, 2021

Review the West Maui Community Plan carefully

(The following testimony was submitted to the County Council’s Planning and Sustainable Land Use Committee regarding the West Maui Community Plan.)

Mahalo for this opportunity to testify regarding the proposed bill to adopt the updated West Maui Community Plan.

My name is Joseph Pluta, and I have resided in West Maui the past 41 years. I am one of the founding directors of the West Maui Taxpayers Association Inc. and an active member since, including many years on the volunteer board of directors. I am currently serving as president. I was part of the Kaanapali 2020 Community Planning Group since 1999 and attended all of its meetings for the past 20-plus years. I also served on the West Maui Community Plan Advisory Committee and had the highest attendance record of all committee members. Members of our board have served on county and state commissions, including the GPAC for formulation of the Maui Island Plan.

The WMTA has been actively monitoring and working with the state and county government for these past 41 years, and together we have made some remarkable achievements and accomplishments. Our most notable was developing the Napili Fire and Ambulance Station in 1992 with private funds of West Maui community members and stakeholders, and not one penny of county or state funds — just the willingness of the county to staff this station after dedication to the County of Maui. There’s lots more we have accomplished, which can be seen on our website at www.westmaui.org

We have been more informed of who the West Maui community truly is comprised of — and what their needs are — than any other organization or group these past 41 years. Some of you on the council have participated in our “Candidate’s Night” every election year, which has brought all County Council members to the West Side.

We are concerned about the chair’s announced plans to complete the review in the next few months (before the budget) of the update of the West Maui Community Plan Draft in its current form, even though reviewed and commented on by the Maui Planning Commission.

The update draft of the WMCP is vitally important, and it seems irresponsible to rush through it given the stated concerns and inconsistencies with the Maui Island Plan contained therein.

The County Council should prudently reconsider and take more time for deliberation and review to those who elected you to office to represent the community’s interests fairly and equitably. To do otherwise seems to be a breach of your obligation to your constituents. At a minimum, please wait until the Hawaii Community Assets comprehensive affordable housing plan that was commissioned by the County Council is approved in June.

Please find following several issues of concern:

1. The Kaanapali 2020 Community Plan was not adequately embraced, even though it represents 20-plus years of work by community members — some of which are no longer with us, like Ed Lindsey, Mae Fujiwara, Star Medeiros, Robert “Buck” Buchanan and others — who would be shocked to see what this draft plan looks like today.

2. Vote totals on significant areas of this draft were split 50/50, resulting in no change, even when changes should have been made to represent the community’s needs.

3. Inconsistencies with the Maui Island Plan should not be ignored and instead carefully examined.

The WMTA is currently working on an updated survey of the West Maui community, including employees working here and would reside here if any housing was available.

Please be prudent and responsible to your constituents and do not rush this draft update review and adoption. Take all of the time you have to do it properly. Those who voted for you expect you to make the right decisions in unity and for the benefit of all concerned.

JOSEPH D. PLUTA, West Maui Taxpayers Association

The diet of Lent

I miss Mardi Gras. I miss being in crowds on Fat Tuesday. I’m hoping for a speedy recovery from the pandemic so we can all congregate again.

After Fat Tuesday, Lent begins. Lent is the 40-day period before Easter when Christians stop eating meat and dairy in remembrance of Jesus’ 40 days of reflection. As a Christian, Lent has meaning to me.

For me, I already don’t eat meat and dairy. My plant-based diet helps reduce chronic diseases, environmental degradation and animal abuse.

Countless reports have linked consumption of animal products with risk of heart failure, stroke, cancer and other diseases. A U.N. report named meat production as a source of greenhouse gases and water pollution. Investigations have revealed animals raised for food under horrible conditions of caging, crowding, drugging and mutilation. These actions go against what I believe.

Lent offers an opportunity to honor Jesus’ powerful message of compassion and love for all living beings. Stop subsidizing the meat industry and choose a nonviolent, plant-based diet.

It’s a diet that goes back to The Bible (Genesis I:29) and observed in the Garden of Eden.

Enter “plant-based Lent” in Google and explore hundreds meat-free recipes.

LESTER NAITO, Lahaina

Forestry can help in Maui’s economic recovery

(The following letter was sent to a forest conservation organization.)

Aloha from Lahaina, located on the West Side of the island of Maui. Although this is an unusual request, please consider the following. From 1790 to 1839, Hawaii’s sandalwood forests were decimated. Hawaii’s other exotic valuable sources of lumber include Acacia koa trees, monkey pod, ohia and milo just to name a few. Hawaii’s Plantation Era continued the detrimental trend to wipe out existing forests for mono-crop cultivation. Hawaii’s sugar and pineapple industries have been dwindling since the 1980s, with Maui’s last sugar mill closing in December 2016. Since then, hundreds of acres remain fallow.

Considered the “golden goose,” West Maui’s tax dollars provide one of Hawaii’s major revenue incomes. Tourism is the main economic driver. You can imagine with COVID-19, Hawaii’s travel restrictions make it one of the hardest hit states financially. Maui is one of the most economically devastated counties in the entire nation. Forestry can help Maui’s economic recovery and create a reliable, sustainable industry.

Major parcels of land are controlled by a few corporate entities. Instead of reinvesting in agricultural pursuits, they have gone the way of development. This destructive trend needs to be curbed with a progressive move toward agri-business, including forestry.

The three major landholders in the West Maui region with fallow properties include Maui Land and Pineapple Co. Inc., Kaanapali Land Management Corporation, and West Maui Land Company, which goes by many different LLCs. Please consider proposing land acquisitions from these entities and reforest the fallow fields.

Keep in mind that some of the land has questionable titles. Any parcels that necessitate quiet-title/quit-claims should be resolved before any transaction takes place. Modern day atrocities are taking place with landholders using the court to take properties of Hawaiian lineal heirs. Perhaps your reforesting conservation efforts can help make things right for the land and its indigenous people.

Maui hosts guests from all over the world, with potential for great advertising for your conservation movement. The properties controlled by these landholders are very visible from the main roadways and viewed by many tourist lodgings. Besides a lasting legacy, reforestation and conservation in this region would get a kind of natural “billboard” exposure.

Many rare and endangered species of flora and fauna would benefit from reforesting Hawaii, too. Exotic birds would entice avian enthusiasts. Hawaii needs to diversify its economy.

Forestry and agriculture are viable industries. Besides a future lumber resource, eco-tourism would be realized immediately.

Most corporations fail to have the vision or resources to accomplish reforestation. Please consider taking on this venture to provide Maui with another viable industry that compliments tourism.

MICHELE LINCOLN, Lahaina