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Council committees get new bills to review

CHAIR’S 3 MINUTES

With less than two months left in its 2015-17 term, the Maui County Council is still working on new legislative proposals.

At its Nov. 4 meeting, for example, the council sent Council Member Riki Hokama’s bill that would establish a program for concessions and sponsorships in county parks and recreational facilities to committee. The bill’s stated purpose is “to establish a policy for the Department of Parks and Recreation’s awarding and administering of sponsorships and concessions, including contracts for pouring rights, advertising, vending machines, and parking, and the establishment of a fund for the deposit of all funds received from concessions and sponsorships.”

Committee deliberations may also be scheduled for Council Member Don Couch’s bill to prohibit the consumption of alcohol at Kihei’s Piikea Park, an Arakawa administration bill to provide tax incentives to encourage developers to improve the Old Maui High School campus and a bill I introduced to improve traffic flow in Makawao by eliminating the stop signs at the intersection of Meha Road and Kealaloa Avenue.

In addition, the council received and sent to committee the planning commissions’ report on a pending bill to require an applicant for a short-term rental home permit to have owned the property for at least five years. Because this is a countywide land use bill, review by the Lanai, Maui and Molokai planning commissions is a prerequisite to council approval.

As recommended by the council’s Planning Committee, the council on Nov. 4 also referred to multiple committees an array of proposals designed to increase the availability of housing. One initiative is to speed up the permitting process by allowing building plans to be reviewed by private firms with relevant expertise, following the lead of the City & County of Honolulu.

Other ideas include building affordable homes for sale or rent on county-owned property, establishing a unified permitting center for all necessary housing approvals, earmarking more revenue for the affordable housing fund, and prioritizing the development of housing-related infrastructure, such as water, sewer and roadway improvements.

After a public hearing on Thursday, the council will consider a resolution to nominate the island of Molokai for designation as enterprise zone from 2017 through 2036. Molokai’s existing enterprise zone designation will expire at the end of this year.

Businesses within a designated enterprise zone are eligible for a variety of incentives from both the state and county. Gov. David Ige will need to approve the council’s nomination of Molokai.

This has been a productive council term, with more than 200 bills passed and 300 resolutions adopted. I appreciate all members of the public who have helped the council reach these milestones through passionate and well-informed testimony and suggestions.

Bills and resolutions pending in committee at the end of the term on Jan. 2 may be carried over to the next council term if they’re deemed worthy of further consideration. Any bills or resolutions that are “filed,” or disposed of, may be revived in the new term if an interested council member introduces them.

The next council meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m. on Friday in the Council Chambers. Go to mauicounty.us/agendas to review the schedule and agendas.

Mahalo.

* Mike White is chair of the Maui County Council. He holds the council seat for the Paia-Haiku-Makawao residency area. “Chair’s 3 Minutes” is a weekly column to explain the latest news on county legislative matters. Go to maui county.us for more information.

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