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Community advisory committees get more of a say in proposed bill

COUNCIL'S 3 MINUTES

In July 2019, I submitted a proposed bill to council to authorize the formation of a community advisory committee for the Paia-Haiku Community Plan Area.

At the time, the intent was to offer isolated communities a better way to participate in the planning process and offer recommendations for the area. I highlighted that remote communities like Hana, Molokai and Lanai had been served well and supported by an advisory committee.

The proposed bill evolved to include a proposed advisory committee for the Kihei-Makena Community Plan Area, as introduced by my fellow Council Member Kelly Takaya King, and was referred to the Planning and Sustainable Land Use Committee for further review.

Since then, it has been reviewed and discussed four times by the committee and vetted by numerous community-based organizations and individuals within the Paia, Haiku, Kihei and Makena areas.

During the committee and community review process, the proposed bill contained a wish list of responsibilities for community plan advisory committees. As the bill grew in substance, it became clear that some of the revisions may require amendments to various chapters of the Maui County Code and the Maui County Charter.

Accordingly, the Planning and Sustainable Land Use Committee recommended the formation of a working group, made up of representatives from the corresponding communities, council members and administrative staff, to generate a bill that would be amenable to the community and the county.

After four months of evaluation, I am pleased to say the working group has completed its task and created a proposed bill that is focused and functional.

I wish to extend my appreciation to the members of this working group who volunteered their time to develop a proposed bill that will achieve the goal of creating advisory committees for the Paia-Haiku and Kihei-Makena community areas.

The proposed bill has been discharged from the Planning and Sustainable Land Use Committee and has been referred to the Government Relations, Ethics and Transparency Committee, which I chair.

I believe the time has come for each community plan area in our county to have its own advisory committee to aid in clarifying issues, increasing transparency, building awareness and providing residents a greater voice in shaping the future of their community.

Furthermore, the Maui County General Plan 2030 recognizes the important role of advisory committees in prioritizing and improving community participation. Elsewhere in the state, similar actions are already underway.

Some have expressed concerns that establishing advisory committees will create another layer of review in an already lengthy process. I share these concerns, but it is my hope that the advisory committees could potentially expedite reviews.

In its revised form, the proposed bill would authorize advisory committees to provide recommendations, hold public hearings on behalf of the Maui Planning Commission and carry out such duties as assigned by the Maui Planning Commission. If implemented properly, the advisory committees could potentially replace the need for review by the Maui Planning Commission and remove any duplication in the permitting process.

Additionally, the proposed bill would revise the appointment process to the advisory committees, with the council appointing five members and the mayor appointing two members. I believe the revised appointment procedure will make the process more representative of each community’s diverse and unique character.

As a next step, I intend to schedule this matter at my March 16 committee meeting. I encourage community members to join us and share their knowledge and input via oral or written testimony. For more information on how to testify, please visit mauicounty.us/testify.

It is my goal that advisory committees will increase government transparency, build a healthier understanding of the development process, heighten public participation and help residents manage growth within their neighborhoods.

* Mike Molina is chair of the Government Relations, Ethics and Transparency Committee. He holds the council seat for the Makawao-Haiku-Paia 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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