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Reflecting on the things we have accomplished together

COUNCIL'S 3 MINUTES

While the pandemic cloud continues to cast a daunting shadow, I would like to take this opportunity to shine brightly on the amazing accomplishments that continue to lift up our community and give us hope.

With unity and purpose, our community has made great strides in fighting climate change, protecting the environment, promoting food security and providing affordable housing.

Fighting climate change takes a collective effort — and it’s now officially a community priority with the addition of a new chapter to the Countywide Policy Plan.

Mahalo for making choices that make a difference, like minimizing the consumption of fossil fuels and prioritizing multimodal transportation options such as riding the Maui Bus, biking or walking.

We’ve also advanced the fight against environmentally destructive single-use plastics.

Thank you to everyone who supported last year’s establishment of Chapter 20.26, Maui County Code, which prohibits the sale, use and distribution of disposable plastic foodware as of Jan. 1. The ordinance was amended earlier this year to include foam coolers on the list of banned plastics.

On another important environmental issue, work is continuing on wetlands protection and restoration. Please consider providing written or live testimony at 9 a.m. on Wednesday to the Climate Action, Resilience and Environment Committee on the legislation under CARE-55.

While the federal Clean Water Act only protects wetlands that are adjacent to navigable waters, Maui County should protect all wetlands.

With over 80 percent of our food imported, becoming more self-sustaining is critical to Maui County’s future.

Mahalo to Maui County’s electorate for supporting the creation of our own Department of Agriculture. The new agency will begin operations July 1 and will be dedicated to assisting local farmers — thus creating a more economically viable, environmentally friendly agricultural industry that will improve residents’ access to healthy food.

Special thanks to everyone committed to supporting local farmers and other Maui County businesses. Buying local increases community health and safety, protects farmlands, keeps money circulating in the local economy and, perhaps most important, supports community cohesion.

Affordable housing continues to be one of the most critical issues facing our islands. According to the Realtors Association of Maui, Maui County in June set a new record median sales price for single-family homes at $1,117,500.

Kudos to those prioritizing projects that offer truly affordable housing in Maui County, including community-minded developers, civic-minded residents and state and county officials.

South Maui is looking forward to several new affordable-housing developments — including Liloa Hale, Hale Kaiola and Kaiaulu o Halele’a — following Kaiwahine Village, where residents started moving in last year.

Liloa Hale, managed by Hale Mahaolu and approved by the council last year, will have 101 one-bedroom apartments and 16 two-bedroom apartments on 3.6 acres near Hope Chapel.

Seniors up to 60 percent of the area median income ($58,500) will be eligible to rent. The Liloa Hale project is partially financed by the County of Maui Affordable Housing Fund and the State of Hawai’i Housing Finance and Development Corporation.

Farther north in Kihei, at Ohukai Street and Kaiola Place, the 3-acre Hale Kaiola workforce-housing project will have 40 units.

Also approved last year, the project will include two- and three-bedroom units, with prices starting at $295,000. Households earning between 80 and 140 percent of the area median income ($78,000-$136,500) will be eligible to apply for Hale Kaiola.

The Kaiwahine Village and Kaiaulu o Halele’a projects include affordable housing for families with incomes at 60 percent or less and feature an environmentally friendly, “LEED for Homes” community.

Kaiwahine Village is a 120-unit community consisting of 64 two-bedroom units and 56 three-bedroom units, and Kaiaulu o Halele’a will provide 64 rental units, including two-, three- and four-bedroom units.

I would like to express my gratitude to everyone who supported Bill 60, the proposed moratorium on building permits for new visitor accommodations. We must continue to work toward a new vision of tourism — for the health of our fragile island ecosystem, to address the climate emergency and to protect the quality of life for residents.

If you would like to get more involved, the council is seeking applications for the newly created South Maui and Pa’ia-Ha’iku advisory committees through Thursday.

Mahalo for making Maui County no ka ‘oi!

* Kelly Takaya King is chair of the Climate Action, Resilience and Environment Committee. She holds the council seat for the South 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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