County’s SMA rules create unnecessary hardships

This is regarding the Dec. 22 front-page article about a Paia businessman facing fines for numerous special management area and zoning violations.

Yes, he violated county zoning and SMA rules and regulations, but anyone who has tried to apply for SMA and zoning permits will be tempted to skip the process and hope to be forgiven or not be discovered. Enforcement of the rules is spotty and relies mostly on complaints.

The main reason why many people avoid going through the process is the unreasonable amount of time, money and paperwork it takes to obtain permits even for manini projects like building a wall or a storage shed.

The SMA permitting process was put in place to protect the shoreline from negative environmental impacts. Contrary to all other counties, most of the SMA boundary lines on Maui were placed far from the shoreline and the scope was broadened to a point where the protection of the shoreline was no longer the main focus. This has led to too many costly and unnecessary studies, too many applications, and months, even years, of review time with very little public benefit. It has also resulted in the establishment of a new lucrative profession – that of entitlement and permitting processor.

The SMA rules and boundaries were drafted and adopted more than 20 years ago. They should be reviewed and updated to restore their main focus – the protection of the shoreline – instead of creating unnecessary hardships.

Hans Riecke