Moving forward with aloha and unity


Our county thrives when leadership on all levels strives to bridge community divide. For those seeking to get more involved, there are various opportunities to stay engaged in Maui County government. Civil participation is key in moving forward.

As we approach this upcoming council term, there are many leadership opportunities opening on all county boards and commissions.

As chair of the Planning and Sustainable Land Use (PSLU) Committee, we’ve worked to add new criteria to the Maui Planning Commission, including the addition of representation for environmental concerns and climate change.

The PSLU Committee will consider legislation to establish advisory committees for the Maui Planning Commission in the Paia-Haiku and Kihei-Makena community plan areas. These regions face unique land-use challenges, and it could be beneficial to ensure they have public bodies that can help generate well-informed guidance to the planning commission on coastal development, zoning changes and other key issues.

Due to the onset of COVID-19 back in March, most county meetings are now conducted online, including boards and commissions. This shift has offered the opportunity for community members to testify from almost anywhere.

No matter where you are or what you’re doing, you can join a county meeting by placing a call or logging into a video conference with your computer or smart phone.

Find upcoming Maui County Council committee meeting agendas at MauiCounty.us/agendas. By clicking eComment, you can submit written testimony that will automatically be added online.

Though the new system was born of necessity, many in our community have benefitted from the convenience of meeting by video conference. That’s why Maui County Council is spearheading an effort to amend the state Sunshine Law to permanently allow online meetings.

The governor’s emergency proclamations have allowed online meetings based on COVID-19 safety concerns. If the legislature amends the law as requested, we’ll have the option of continuing to meet by video conference, even when not mandated for public health.

Using technology can make it easier to meet and testify than commuting to the county seat in Wailuku, where in-person meetings are traditionally held.

The council is looking at other ways to make local government more accessible. For instance, at my behest, the council recently opened a West Maui office at 845 Waine’e St.

The West Maui council district office will be a hub of civic engagement once it’s safe to have regular gatherings again. Residents will be able to come by the office to testify, ask questions of staff and meet with me.

More effective and open communication not only leads to better policy making, it helps to support a spirit of unity in our community. While difference in opinions and beliefs are inevitable, we all want to see Maui County thrive in an environment where we can be safe, healthy and happy.

In the wake of over 200,000 COVID-related deaths across the U.S. and a devastated local economy, we all need to speak up about what we value, who we are and what we think are the best strategies for facilitating recovery after a trying year.

I urge all residents to come forward, and share your thoughts, suggestions and concerns with the council and administration. As we navigate these unprecedented times, we need your insight, creativity and varying perspectives.

If you have conceived an idea for a legislative remedy to a dilemma you have encountered in your community, please reach out to one of your nine council members. We are eager to work with you.

Meanwhile, contacting the administration to share observations such as potholes, inadequate lighting in county parks or fading crosswalks may result in the quickest resolutions. You can do this by submitting a request for service at mauicounty.gov.

Every idea and contribution, big or small, can lead to the betterment of Maui County and potentially, the world.

Lead with aloha, and the rest will fall in place.

* Tamara Paltin is chair of the Planning and Sustainable Land Use Committee. She holds the County Council seat for the West Maui residency area. “Council’s 3 Minutes” is a column to explain the latest news on county legislative matters. Go to mauicounty.us for more information.


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