There are a couple hearings coming up next week you should know about. On Monday, July 23, the County Council General Plan Committee will meet at 9am to discuss the West Maui section of the Maui Island Plan Growth maps. Considering that most of you probably work at that time, it’s unlikely many of you will actually make it. Ditto the Tuesday, July 24 Maui Planning Commission hearing (also at 9am, natch) on the long-awaited Honualua project.
We’re talking thousands of homes and tens of thousands of square feet of commercial development that will be in discussion. Too bad most residents can’t make it, because the stuff is kind of important. Of course, given the fact that four of the nine Maui Council Councilmembers (nearly a quorum!) are running unopposed in the upcoming election, it’s hard to think that most people on Maui are pretty happy just letting them make these kinds of decisions on their own.
Of course, that doesn’t take away from the fact that all of these development projects represent pretty much everything that’s wrong with the build-out of Maui. These are massive projects, the former packed with commercial, retail and residential construction. They’ve been discussed by planners for years, but it’s nearly impossible for residents who must work for a living to get a feel for their true impact on island life.
The Final Environmental Impact Statement for Honualua especially is a sprawling, technical, monster of a planning document. Maui Tomorrow somehow managed to break it up into four giant PDF files, but the idea of working people sitting down at a computer to read hundreds, if not thousands of pages of charts and legalese is laughable.
For those few who have read through the EIS reports on projects like Honualua, and take the ambiguities and contradictions they find in them very seriously, it’s impossible to discuss such projects with a straight face. A few days ago longtime smart growth advocate Lucienne de Naie emailed me about the July 23 and July 24 hearings, and it was impossible for her to discuss something like the Honualua EIS without becoming sarcastic:
“The report concludes that it would be impossible to preserve any more than 40 acres of the recommended 130 acres [of] native flora and fauna, existing habitat and cultural site area because this would make the housing in the other 82 percent of the property ‘too crowded.’ For example, if the 504 single family luxury homes had to be located on lots that were one third of an acre (14,600 sq ft) instead of half an acre (20,000 sq ft) probably the whole project would fail. Right?”
Anyway, the General Plan Committee hearing is at 9am on Monday, July 23 in the Council Chambers (8th Floor), 200 S. High Street, Wailuku. The Planning Commission hearing is at 9am on Tuesday, July 24 in the Planning Department Conference Room, 250 S. High St., Wailuku.