Maui Bills for SMA Permits and Film Production Studio Still Alive
By Wendy Osher
[flashvideo file=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FK_dkUmDp_4 /] Several key bills relating to jobs and business on Maui remain alive this legislative session. Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa outlined the items during an exclusive interview, calling them “critical for Maui County.”
SMA Permit Revisions Proposed
One bill relating to Shoreline Management Area permits would eliminate the threshold currently required, leaving it up to the discretion of department heads to determine whether or not the project is significant enough to require an SMA Major Permit.
Under current laws, SMA Major Permits are required for projects that are valued upwards of $125,000. “This could involve literally hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of work,” said Mayor Arakawa. “The original intent of the SMA process was so that big projects would be reviewed because of their impacts on the shoreline and on the community–not for little projects like individual homes or interior redesigning,” he said.
Tax Credits Proposed to Enable Construction of Film Studios
A separate bill would allow tax credits to help facilitate the construction of Film Production Studios in the islands. SB318 would also establish digital media enterprise subzones surrounding University of Hawaii campuses and establish tax benefits for digital media infrastructure development and operation. Mayor Arakawa said professional film studios would create hundreds of jobs and help to diversify the economy.
“With the tourism industry, we have an up and down cycle; with our current construction industry, it’s a boom or bust kind of a thing; to have another economic engine like the film production studios, would allow us to have a little bit more balance,” said Mayor Arakawa. “It’s part of what we need to do to keep Maui whole,” he said.
Expanding Health Care Facilities
Governor Neil Abercrombie today released $15 million to the Maui Memorial Medical Center (MMMC) for expansion efforts and infrastructure upgrades at the facility. The funding goes towards Phase II design and construction which calls for a new heart center at the hospital. Mayor Arakawa said the expansion of the medical facilities on Maui would help to stabilize the community, create better medical care, and generate more jobs in the field.
Science City at Haleakala
Another area for diversity and expasion involves Science City at Haleakala. Mayor Arakawa said the administration has been working hard to get the laboratories and observatories atop Haleakala to work in coordination with Maui’s Research and Technology Park.
“All of these job areas are clean industries–they don’t pollute the air, they don’t pollute the environment, they’re high paying jobs, and they provide jobs that are going to be professional level, where the community is going to benefit,” said Mayor Arakawa. “We don’t want to create just any kind of job–you create a lot of minimum wage jobs, it’s not going to help our community in the long run. But we’re working with these to try and help build a better community,” said Mayor Arakawa.