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Three charter amendments make it to Nov. 6 ballot

Three amendments to the County Charter will make their way onto the general election ballot Nov. 6, following Friday’s vote by the Maui County Council.

One amendment would establish a $20,000 penalty for illegal transient accommodations and another would expand the uses of the county’s Open Space, Natural Resources and Scenic Views Preservation Fund. The third amendment is intended to streamline the processing of claims against the county.

All changes would go into effect Jan 2, 2019, if approved by the voters.

The mayor does not have to sign off on the resolutions, which received their second and final approval by the council Friday.

The three charter amendment proposals will be the only ones to appear on the ballot this year, according to the County Clerk’s Office.

One proposed amendment calls for increasing to $20,000 the penalty for operating illegal transient accommodations, including vacation rentals, bed-and-breakfasts and short-term rental homes.

Currently, the maximum penalty for operating an illegal transient accommodation without a permit is $1,000.

The amendment was introduced by council Chairman Mike White to help the county Planning Department with enforcement against illegal transient accommodations. The Planning Department supported the proposal.

Another proposed amendment would expand the uses of the Open Space, Natural Resources and Scenic Views Preservation Fund, which currently can be tapped only for land purchases.

The amendment would allow funds to be used for safety and security improvements on land acquired through the fund.

Council Member Don Guzman, who proposed the amendment, has said that it took him 2 1/2 years after the council approved the use of $9.5 million from the fund to purchase land in Hamakualoa to obtain $75,000 for signs and fencing from other sources.

The money for the items related to the land purchase could more easily have come through the fund rather than through the more arduous and time-consuming general appropriation process, Guzman has said.

The third proposed charter change would have claims with the county filed with the Department of Corporation Counsel’s Risk Management Division, rather than the County Clerk’s Office.

White, who introduced the amendment, has said he was approached by the Office of the County Clerk to have the process streamlined.

The resolution said that the clerk’s office basically receives a claim and passes it along to other county agencies and provides a copy to a third-party administrator, the mayor, corporation counsel and the council chairperson. It has no other major role in the claims process.

* Melissa Tanji can be reached at mtanji@mauinews.com.

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