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Planning Department hosting annual statewide planning conference

By Staff | Sep 12, 2019

WAILUKU – The County of Maui Planning Department is hosting the annual Hawaii Congress of Planning Officials (HCPO) on Sept. 11 to 13, 2019, at the Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa in Kaanapali.

Convened each year, HCPO is a meeting of planning officials, planning commissioners and those involved in managing and regulating land use and development in the State of Hawaii.

This year’s HCPO will have something for everyone: four mobile workshops, American Planning Association awards, a luau, four keynote and plenary sessions, and a choice among 23 individual break-out sessions. Approximately 300 people have registered to attend.

The conference is organized, managed and run entirely by Planning Department staff; therefore, many personnel will be needed in Kaanapali for the three days of the conference, leaving fewer personnel to staff the department’s offices in Wailuku.

During the conference, there may not be staff available to answer phone calls or respond to walk-in questions.

“We appreciate the public’s understanding over these three days,” Planning Director Michele Chouteau McLean said.

“The counties and the state take turns hosting HCPO, so it is our turn every five years, and we work hard to make Maui County proud. We apologize for any inconvenience caused by these staffing demands.”

For more information about the Planning Department, visit www.mauicounty.gov/121/Planning-Department, call 270-7735 or e-mail planning@mauicounty.gov.

In other news, the administration of Mayor Michael Victorino has submitted a proposed ordinance to the Maui County Council to implement new fines to strengthen enforcement against illegal vacation rentals.

“In November 2018, voters approved an increase in fines for illegal vacation rentals,” Mayor Victorino said.

“The charter amendment increased fines from an initial fine of $1,000 and $1,000 per day to a $20,000 initial fine and $10,000 per day.

“For illegal operators, a $1,000 fine can be a mere cost of doing business, especially for properties renting for $2,500 or more per night,” Victorino said.

“But fines of $20,000 and then $10,000 per day carry a much greater sting that, hopefully, will compel compliance with Maui County ordinances governing vacation rentals.”

Following the November vote in favor of the charter amendment, the Department of Planning drafted an ordinance that matches the amendment. The department sought and received input from the Maui, Molokai and Lanai planning commissions.

The draft ordinance was submitted to the County Council on July 5. On July 19, the measure was referred to the Planning & Sustainable Land Use Committee.

“My hope is that the council’s Planning & Sustainable Land Use Committee will take up this draft ordinance for discussion and recommend approval to the full council quickly,” Mayor Victorino said. “These increased fines would add more teeth to our enforcement efforts and encourage voluntary compliance with the County Code.”

Planning Director McLean said, “We will begin imposing these fines as soon as the code amendment takes place.”