Maui News

Charter Commission Adopts 6 Proposals, Including Abolition of Maui Planning Commission

October 27, 2021, 11:40 AM HST
* Updated October 28, 5:52 AM
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The Maui Charter Commission adopted a proposal that would eliminate the Maui Planning Commission (pictured above in 2018) and adopted another proposal to create separate Planning Commissions for each Community Plan area on Maui island. Photo Credit: Wendy Osher

After hearing nearly two hours of public testimony at a virtual meeting Oct. 21, the Maui Charter Commission adopted six charter amendment proposals, which if approved by voters in 2022, will significantly alter how the County Planning Department functions.  

The adopted proposals include:

  • Abolition of the Maui Planning Commission
  • Creation of a separate Planning Commission for each Community Plan area on Maui island
  • Creating the framework for “Community Boards” similar to Honolulu’s neighborhood boards system
  • Removing language that excludes the Kalaupapa Settlement from the jurisdiction of the Molokaʻi Planning Commission’s purview
  • Including the cultural resources commission in the charter and requiring referral of certain matters to them
  • Requiring the Planning Director to create an inventory of all historically and culturally significant features on County controlled lands

The 11-citizens Maui Charter Commission is in the midst of a year-long review of the County Charter, which takes place every 10 years. The goal is to improve County government by looking for problems or deficiencies in the way the County now operates or seeking new ways to improve the system of local government by amending the County Charter. The public is encouraged to provide input on the agenda topics and other important matters.

Ten proposals related to planning and land use law processes remain for consideration at the Commission’s next meeting on November 4. The proposals range from modifying the general and community planning process to clarifying deadlines for various reviews of proposed land use laws.

Here is a synopsis of the action taken by the Commission at last week’s meeting:

  • The Commission adopted proposal G-01, which supports the call for more local representation in the planning process. It abolishes the present Maui Planning Commission and creates regional planning commissions for each community plan area on Maui. Each regional planning commission would be made up of seven appointed residents of that community planning area. The proposal would create a planning commission for each community plan district except Kaho‘olawe – which would be combined with the South Maui region. The existing Planning Commissions on Lana‘I and Moloka‘I would be unchanged.
  • The Commission supported calls for increased citizen involvement by adopting a framework for the establishment of elected community boards similar to Honolulu’s neighborhood board system. These advisory bodies would be focal points for community information and feedback regarding projects and issues related to each community. Former Maui County Information Officer, Lloyd Yonenaka, who now serves as the Executive Secretary of the Honolulu Neighborhood Commission, acted as a resource person for the Commission.
  • The Commission unanimously approved language to remove the exclusion of the Kalaupapa Settlement from the jurisdiction of the Moloka‘i Planning Commission. Currently, the Kalaupapa Settlement is not subject to any coastal zone SMA (Special Management Area) regulations. Numerous testifiers indicated that returning Kalaupapa to local control is a top priority and fixing the language in the Charter will eliminate one of the obstacles.
  • The Commission approved three proposals from the Cultural Resources Commission. The first would establish the Cultural Resources Commission in the charter. The Cultural Resources Commission was established decades ago by state law to oversee the county’s historic preservation program. However, it is presently established only by ordinance. The second proposal requires projects involving historic and culturally significant properties to be referred to the Cultural Resources Commission for its review. The third proposal would task the planning director with creating and maintaining an inventory of all historical and culturally significant features on County controlled lands.
  • The Commission did not adopt a proposal to abolish the Board of Variances and Appeals. The proposal would have transferred its duties to the various planning commissions.
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The Commission already has adopted a variety of other charter amendment proposals that will appear before voters on the November 2022 ballot, but several important issues remain. At the next meeting, in addition to the remaining planning agenda items, the Commission also expects to consider the next theme regarding the police. Several proposals involve making the police commission a citizen oversight board, and others call for higher minimum qualifications for the police chief.

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The Commission also still has to address changes to the executive branch, miscellaneous matters and new proposals.

The community is urged to visit the Charter Commission website http://www.mauicounty.gov/CharterCommission and learn about upcoming proposals, as well as those already adopted. 

During Charter Commission meetings, the public can provide testimony via video or by telephone as the Commission takes up the various Themes on its agenda.  Agenda items are subject to cancellation and are taken up in the order listed, as time permits. The Commission receives testimony on the topics on its agenda moving from one “Theme” to the next.

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Written testimony via email can also be submitted at any time to [email protected].  To ensure timely distribution to the Commissioners, it should be submitted at least two business days prior to the meetings. The public also can offer recommendations at mauichartersurvey.org.  Due to COVID-19 restrictions, public meetings are held online via BlueJeans.  For more information and to join Maui Charter Commission meetings follow the link on the Commission website. 

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