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3 charter amendment proposals to be on general election ballot

CHAIR'S 3 MINUTES

Pursuant to Article 14 of the Revised Charter of the County of Maui (1983), as amended, amendments to the County Charter can be initiated either by the County Council or by petition. In either case, amendments are then proposed to voters at the next general election.

The Policy, Economic Development, and Agriculture Committee, of which I chair, reviewed a total of nine council-initiated charter proposals from May 2018 to July 2018. Of the nine proposals discussed, three passed out of committee and were adopted by the council after two readings on July 6, 2018, and July 20, 2018, with a vote of six or more members.

The three charter amendment proposals are slated to be placed on the upcoming Nov. 6 general election ballot.

One proposal would increase the penalty for the operation of a transient accommodation without a necessary permit from the current $1,000 amount to a civil fine of up to $20,000, plus $10,000 per day for each day the unlawful operation persists.

The charter amendment would help to address the growing number of illegal transient accommodations. It is estimated there are currently as many as 3,000 to 8,000 in Maui County which negatively impacts the cost of housing, the availability of rentals, and state and county tax revenues. A significant increase of the fine would be an additional tool to curb new violations.

The ballot question will read as follows:

“Shall the Charter be amended, effective January 2, 2019, to increase the penalty for the operation of a transient accommodation without a necessary permit from the current $1,000 amount to a civil fine of up to $20,000 plus $10,000 per day for each day the unlawful operation persists, unless a higher fine is authorized by State law, and to clarify that the current limit of a $1,000 fine for the violation of an ordinance is a limit of $1,000 per day the violation persists?”

A second proposal would require that claims be filed with the Department of the Corporation Counsel instead of with the County Clerk.

Currently, the clerk’s office receives claims, and forwards them to the Department of the Corporation Counsel. The charter proposal would send claims directly to the Department of the Corporation Counsel and thereby, help to streamline this process, provide clarity for claimants, and eliminate bureaucratic inefficiencies.

The voters will consider this ballot question:

“Shall Section 13-6 of the Charter be amended, effective January 2, 2019, to require that claims be filed with the Corporation Counsel instead of the County Clerk?”

The last proposal would expand the uses of the Open Space, Natural Resources, Cultural Resources, and Scenic Views Preservation Fund to authorize the fund be used to perform safety and security improvements on lands acquired through the fund.

The fund’s revenues come from the collection of 1 percent of real property tax revenues annually. The current use of the fund does not allow for safety and security improvements on lands the county has acquired or will acquire for land conservation purposes.

The ballot question posed to voters will read:

“Shall the Charter be amended, effective January 2, 2019, to expand the uses of the Open Space, Natural Resources, Cultural Resources, and Scenic Views Preservation Fund to authorize the fund to be used to perform safety and security improvements on lands acquired through the fund?”

Copies of the proposed charter amendments are available at mauicounty.gov/elections. To register to vote for the general election, please contact the county clerk at 270-7749 or register online at elections.hawaii.gov no later than Oct. 9.

Please take the time to learn about and vote for these important charter amendment initiatives.

Mahalo.

* Yuki Lei Sugimura is chairwoman of the Policy, Economic Development, and Agriculture Committee. She holds the council seat for the Upcountry residency area. “Chair’s 3 Minutes” is a weekly column to explain the latest news on county legislative matters. Go to mauicounty.us for more information.