Recently Maui County's director of planning, Will Spence, reported to the County Council that only "about six" out of the 200 to 250 goals contained in the nine county community plans adopted roughly 15 years ago have been accomplished (The Maui News, Jan. 25).
According to Spence, "the current system is not working." His candor is welcome.
Community plans are critically important to the beneficial development of our island communities. After all, they were carefully crafted according to code with input from state and county agencies as well as the general public. Once adopted by the county, they are law. (Maui County Code 2.80B.070.C, the Hawaii Supreme Court and a state appellate court have both declared the Kihei Makena Community Plan specifically as having the "force and effect of law." Also see county charter Section 8-8-6 and other sections of the Maui County Code.)
Because community plans are critical guides to beneficial development, the county code requires the planning director to "issue annually a report providing detailed explanation of the implementation and enforcement of the general plan and the community plans to the mayor and the council." After all, tracking performance to stated goals is a common means to achieve stated ends. The report recently given to the council, however, evidences a level of executive branch performance that is wholly unacceptable, as noted by Spence.
This is nothing new. Maui County government has consistently treated community plans with disregard. A case in point is the recent South Maui megamall case where the mayor and planning director, in lockstep with out-of-state shopping center developers, ignored - and continue to ignore - the clear and express provisions of the Kihei Makena Community Plan designating the proposed mall property for light industrial use.
Community plans can be amended. There is a clear process for doing so, but the executive branch and the developers refuse to comply.
Given the commendable admission that the system is not working, the mayor, planning director and County Council need to work together to identify the root causes of this massive failure and take corrective action so that next year at this time the executive branch can report that of the 200 to 250 goals identified, significant improvement in implementation and enforcement has been achieved in accordance with law the will of the people expressed in the community plans.
* Mark G. Hyde is the president of South Maui Citizens for Responsible Growth.