Message from Councilmember Kelly Takaya King
Aloha and Happy New Year,

Judging from the constant mantra, we will all be grateful to see an end to 2020. However, we must remember that celebrating the New Year on January 1st does not mean our challenges are behind us. There is hope, though, and while we witnessed many individuals and businesses suffer financially due to the loss of tourism, the COVID protocols are being developed and there is finally support for diversifying our economy. The promise of the vaccines is still a question for many, and I am keeping close tabs on relatives in the medical field who have gotten treatments.

The pandemic shone a light on the importance of Maui County to become more self-sustaining. Many of us are embracing the importance of food security and prioritizing local regenerative agriculture. Growing our ag sector will help diversify our economy away from sole reliance on tourism. More than that, growing our own food will decrease our dependence on fossil fuels needed to ship produce across the Pacific. While the County of Maui has yet to commit to locally produced renewable fuel (which the City & County of Oahu has used for more than a decade), biodiesel sales have remained steady across the state so there is hope for this industry to grow as well.

Finding a balance between a healthy economy and a healthy population is not easy, but it is the goal we all must work toward in 2021. A big MAHALO to all of Maui’s first responders, volunteers and non-profit organizations who have gone above and beyond the call of duty to serve our community during this unprecedented time. Wearing a mask and staying away from large gatherings of more than 10 people are efforts we citizens can make to honor those who risk their own health in their daily work.

In addition to our quarterly news, we have gathered some highlights of 2020 in this newsletter. Mahalo for using your vote to re-elect Kelly to continue serving the public on the Council for two more years. We will continue working toward positive changes for Maui County with you, our village, alongside.

Hauʻoli Makahiki Hou

Kelly, Michelle, Kate and Suzanne
Virtual Community Meetings

We invite you to join us for our virtual Webinars and Town Hall meetings. Our webinars are a digital extension of this quarterly newsletter and our town hall meetings address topical community concerns.

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In the Virtual Chambers
This quarter, the Council passed an important environmental bill introduced by CM King that requires an environmentalist/climate change expert, with a background in conservation, natural resources or climate change, to be included as a member of the Maui and Molokai planning commissions and all community advisory committees. This is an amendment to an ordinance that already requires at least one member of each planning commission and the Hana advisory committee to have expertise in native Hawaiian traditional and customary practices. The bill passed unanimously after agreeing to CM Hokama’s amendment to exclude the Lana`i Planning Commission.

In October, CM King introduced a resolution, “Supporting an Agenda to Transform, Heal, and Renew by Investing in a Vibrant Economy: 'THRIVE'”. The purpose of the proposed resolution, that passed unanimously, is to support the “THRIVE” agenda both locally and nationally and advocate that we build a society that enables increased racial, economic, gender, and environmental justice; a stable climate; dignified work; and healthy communities free from pollution. 

The Climate Action and Resilience Committee spent three meetings discussing the merits of amending the Maui Countywide Policy Plan to include “Mitigate Climate Change and Work Towards Resilience” as a new goal. (The Countywide Policy Plan provides goals, objectives, policies, and implementing actions that portray the desired direction of the County's future.) The CAR Committee received support from the Maui County Emergency Management Agency, University of Hawai`i Sea Grant program, and Department of Planning as well as supportive testimony from climate change experts. On the penultimate Council meeting of the year, the council unanimously adopted Resolution 20-170 to send the proposed amendment to the Lanai, Maui and Molokai planning commissions for required review.

Throughout this quarter, CM King has been closely following the County's response to COVID. In early November, CM King proposed a resolution urging the Mayor to establish a rapid response COVID-19 Task Force to help advise the Administration and Council in planning for and implementing mitigation strategies and emergency responses to the pandemic. The resolution states that the task force should be headed by the Managing Director and include at least two Councilmembers, one State legislator, Maui County Health Officer Dr. Lorrin Pang, and at least three additional residents with relevant expertise. The resolution also requests increased efforts to educate the public including visitors, about the County's existing public health rules on gatherings, social distancing and mask wearing and to improve compliance with those rules by residents and visitors alike. The Mayor unfortunately rebuffed this unanimously supported resolution. CM King is working on developing a town hall meeting for the public to discuss solutions they’d like to see put in place for public health and safety.

End-of-year review

At the end of 2019, the Council adopted Resolution 19-209, recognizing “a climate emergency, which threatens humanity and the natural world” and committing the County to a “Just Transition” to a safe climate. The following month, the Council approved CM King’s proposal to form the Climate Action and Resilience Committee and appointed CM King as chairperson. Kelly and her team built on that foundation in 2020 with the passage of several environmentally focused measures.

Economic Recovery

With economic recovery a major focus in 2020, the Council passed two innovative resolutions: Supporting a Transition to a Circular Economy, proposed by CM King; and Supporting and Urging the Mayor to Support a Feminist Economic Recovery Plan for COVID-19, proposed by CM Keani Rawlins-Fernandez.

The resolution, Supporting 'Aina Aloha Economic Futures Initiative and Transition to a Circular Economy,” encourages an economic system aimed at eliminating waste and the continual use of resources. Circular systems employ reuse, sharing, repair, refurbishment, re manufacturing and recycling to create a closed-loop system, minimizing the use of resource inputs and the creation of waste, pollution and carbon emissions. It is regenerative by design and aims to gradually move away from the consumption of finite resources. This is also a major pillar of ICLEI, a global organization working with the United Nations to bring sustainability to communities worldwide (see closing comments for more information about CM King’s recruitment onto the ICLEI USA Board of Directors).

CM King was in full support of the Feminist Recovery resolution, which found its framework in a plan drafted by the Hawai’i State Commission on the Status of Women, called Building Bridges, Not Walking on Backs: A Feminist Economic Recovery Plan for COVID-19 . Based on evidence that women from the most marginalized groups have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19, the plan proposes measures that will aid in recovery from the economic fallout of the virus, and also urges fundamental changes to the way women’s work is valued and compensated.

Single Use Plastic Ban

CM King supported a bill proposed by CM Shane Sinenci in the Environmental, Agricultural, and Cultural Preservation Committee to prohibit the use and sale of single-use plastic food ware. The bill, which was unanimously passed by the Council, encourages the improvement of waste-disposal practices and systems to assure they are efficient, safe, and as environmentally sound as possible – an important step toward a healthier environment.

Carbon bills

In March, the Council voted to approve two resolutions supporting bills that will help cut carbon emissions while meeting the needs of our lowest income residents. One resolution urges the United States Congress to support H.R. 763, which will establish a fee on fossil-fuel use while creating a Carbon Dividend Trust Fund that will disperse all money collected to all American citizens. The other resolution urges the State Legislature to support Senate Bill SB3150, which sets a price on carbon that will incrementally increase over time, while proposing a refundable tax credit for individuals earning 60% AMI and less.

Charter Amendments

The Council approved seven Charter Amendments (CAs) this year, giving voters more choice on how their County Government operates. CM King proposed four of the CAs and supported all seven. Our office hosted a webinar with Councilmembers Shane Sinenci and Keani Rawlins-Fernandez prior to the election to discuss what a vote on each amendment means to Maui County. The "Understanding the Charter Amendments” webinar was well attended and can be viewed on our Facebook page.
Maui voters passed the CAs proposed by CM King that establish stricter term limits for the Mayor and the Councilmembers. Rather than being able to serve five consecutive terms, take a term off and then run again, Councilmembers are limited to five two-year terms in total. Similarly, the Mayor is allowed a total of two terms. The community also voted in favor of CM King's amendment that extends the Affordable Housing Fund and increases the minimum amount going into the fund from 2% of Maui’s property tax revenue to 3%. The CA to establish a professional Managing Director was turned down by voters.
However, voters approved the CA to establish a Department of Agriculture, a significant move toward growing our ag sector and diversifying our economy. The two additional CAs passed by voters this year related to conflicts in Charter interpretations being resolved by Special Counsel and the majority of Charter Commission appointments now being made by the County Council rather than the Mayor .
The newly approved Charter Amendments are effective January 2, 2021, except for the CA establishing a Department of Agriculture, which is effective July 1, 2022.


CM King's overall priorities for the Fiscal Year 2021 Budget focused on three main areas: climate change resilience, environmental protection, and economic diversity.

She proposed to expand MEMA and the Coastal Zone Management Division of the Planning Department to help combat the increasing threats of sea level rise and severe weather, and worked with the Council to ensure full funding for our critical County watershed projects. For South Maui she proposed and secured funding for a Maalaea coastal erosion study and a $200,000 grant for Wetland restoration.

With COVID highlighting the importance of diversifying the County's economy and its budget expenditures, CM King proposed a new line item in support of Food Security Hawaii's 'Ohana Garden project and supported $2.5 million in the budget for a new Agricultural micro-grant program. Throughout the year, in many ways, CM King has rallied to increase the role agriculture plays, including her support of a new Department of Agriculture and Facebook webinars to present information on food security and on the micro-grant program. For additional information on the subject, watch the webinars on our Facebook page; and for more information or to apply for a grant, click here.
Also essential to the growth and well-being of our County is the ability for local families to fulfill home ownership dreams and continue raising future generations in Maui County. In 2020, the Council reaffirmed its commitment to Affordable Housing through a 5 percent appropriation for the Affordable Housing Fund and $3 million for the First Time Home Buyers Program. CM King also worked with the administration to incorporate several capital improvement projects including the skateboard park in Kihei and funds proposed for acquiring the Kulanihakoi Greenway Park. To view the complete budget, follow this link.
Hawai'i Women Farmers Network interviewed Kelly for a profile on women in agriculture. WFN brings together women leaders to share and shape the future of Hawai'i agriculture.
The final Council meeting of the year wrapped up legislative business with Kelly logging in from her office at the County Building.
South Maui Updates

CM King and staff continued our outreach to South Maui residents in a variety of manners this year. We utilized videoconferencing technology to host community town halls about relevant topics. CM King presented monthly webinars, hosted affordable housing discussions and facilitated a public meeting about a proposed COVID protocol for the film industry. Public input is important to CM King’s decision-making process!

South Maui Community Plan

In the fourth quarter of the year, the Department of Planning launched the South Maui Community Plan Review with its new website - We Are South Maui. The site allows the community to obtain information, provide feedback, and collaborate on the development of the South Maui Community Plan update, which will guide future growth from Maalaea to Wailea.

Affordable Housing

Following several delays in 2019, the first tenants moved into Kaiwahine Village this year.

In September the Hale Kaiola project, which offers 100 percent affordable workforce housing, passed the full Council.

The Liloa Senior Housing project near Hope Chapel will proceed with Affordable Housing Fund providing up to $4.3 million for the multi-family project. The FY21 Affordable Housing Fund also includes $1.5 million for the Kaiaulu O Halelea rental project located at Lipoa Parkway.

A change in zoning was approved for Kilohana Makai workforce housing – a major hurdle for the project. And a proposal for the multi-use Hale O Piikea downtown Kihei project has been recommended for approval by the South Maui Advisory Committee. This four-story project will feature a combination of commercial and residential units.

Parks and Recreation

The long awaited Kenolio Dog Park is now open to the public and was blessed on December 15.


We were pleased last quarter to announce that mobile hygiene services are finally available for our unsheltered community who faced extraordinary hardships this year with access to essential support disrupted by the pandemic. CM King is a strong supporter of services for our homeless residents and she was a major supporter of the Ka Hale A Ke Ola Homeless Resource Centers' program to purchase both the KHAKO mobile hygiene unit and the smaller ADA compliant, Ka La Hiki Ola Jr.

We were saddened to learn that the smaller unit was broken into in November, ransacked and rendered inoperable. KHAKO estimates damages and loss were approximately $10,000. Please follow our Facebook page for updates on the mobile hygiene units.


Barry Rivers has found a way to go forward with the Maui Film Festival this year, despite pandemic challenges. Barry recently told Kelly that her support of the festival is one of the joys in his life. With locally made movies in our Kihei cinema, the continued success of the film festival and the noted filming productions in the midst of the pandemic, the movie business has the potential for economic growth in our County. For details on this year's film festival, visit the MFF site. We look forward to its physical return to Wailea.

We wish to thank all of you in the community for attending our town halls and South Maui community meetings. Though we haven't been face-to-face for most of the year, CM King and her staff are grateful so many of us are connecting to continue through social media, email, and video-conferencing.

The long awaited Kenolio Dog
Park opened and was blessed in December.
Blended image of Kīhei, then and now. Photo from We are South Maui website.
A COVID-friendly version of the Maui Film Festival will be held this year.
In the Community
Prior to stay at home orders, Kelly attended the NACo Legislative Conference in Washington DC, meeting with Scott Carter, Acting National Disaster Response Coordinator at the USDA Food and Nutrition Service's Office of Emergency Management.
Our Food Security webinars embraced the motto of 'Ohana Gardens, "it is your kuleana to grow food for your ohana," as we examined the importance of growing our agriculture sector -- and our food.
Mahalo to those who submitted photos for this years inauguration including this Fourth Friday shot from Penny Palmer. We miss seeing all of you out and about but are thankful Maui is being COVID responsible.
Looking Forward
As we move into 2021, there is renewed hope with vaccinations being administered and new leadership in our nation’s capital ready to face the challenges of the pandemic. Americans made history in November, electing our first female Vice-President, while an unprecedented number of us went to the ballot boxes to vote, many for the first time. Maui voters passed six Charter Amendments as we continue to evolve into a more efficient and effective local government.

In 2021, our office is looking forward to continuing to tackle Climate Change and creating even more Climate Action partnerships at the local, state, and national level. The Big Island Council has created a similar committee and Committee Chair Rebecca Villegas thanked me and the Maui Council for leadership in setting the example.

I’m proud to have recently been recruited to sit on the Board of Directors of ICLEI USA, a leading global network committed to sustainable urban development. It is truly an honor and I look forward to action-oriented discussions on renewable energy, managed retreat, and other solutions to our climate crisis, as I endeavor to bring the unique perspective of island resiliency to the national and global discussions.

In the New Year, the Council will see a change with Councilmember Riki Hokama leaving after decades of service and Gabe Johnson newly elected to represent Lana'i. With changes to the Council brings changes to our office too.

We'd like to announce and welcome Axel Beers as Executive Assistant for our office. Axel will be a great addition to our team, bringing with him years of experience as a community advocate, educator, and journalist. Born and raised on Maui, Axel cares deeply about building a Maui full of opportunities for residents, families, and young people alike and believes strongly in protecting and perpetuating our island’s environment and culture. Knowing Axel’s work and reputation, and having spoken with his references, my senior staffer Michelle Del Rosario and I are thrilled to add him to our professional office staff! With his talent and work ethic, we feel confident he will hit the ground running, despite the continued inconveniences of the pandemic.

A big mahalo and aloha to Kate Griffiths and Suzanne Kayian, both of whom are making changes next year. Kate has accepted an EA position with Gabe Johnson, a move we all believe is in the best interest of Maui County. Kate has spent three years in our office, doing a great job with the legislative work and I know she will be an asset to the Council's newest member. We will miss her and are grateful to her for years of hard work and dedication. Suzanne, our communications specialist, has during her year and a half in our office, spearheaded several projects including the development of our webinars and overseeing the production of our Civic Engagement Video, which is scheduled to be released in early 2021. Suzanne is moving to California to live closer to her daughter (our former intern Zofia Kayian) and to take on added responsibilities in her California-based farm businesses.

Our office and constituents will miss them both but I look forward to a great year with two powerhouse executive assistants on staff!

We want to wish you and yours a very Happy New Year. We hope this year will be filled with health and happiness as we work together toward building a vital and purposeful community.
As we ring in a new year, the message remains the same: stay safe, spread aloha and continue using your voice for positive changes in our community. I will be listening!

Looking forward with hope and determination,

Learn more about becoming a member of Kihei Community Association here.
Office of Kelly Takaya King
Our office can be found on the 8th floor of the County Building, suites 819 and 820.

Our staff is working remotely but we are available by phone (808-270-7108) or via email during regular business hours.
In addition to contributing to many non-profits, including the Hawaiian Islands Land Trust, Kelly King has served Hawaii as an active Leader or Board Member in the following organizations:
  • Kihei Community Association
  • Decisions Maui
  • Kihei Neighborhood Playgroup
  • Maui High School/Community-Based Management
  • Girl Scouts Hawaii
  • Hawaii State Board of Education, Maui Representative
  • Hui Malama Learning Center
  • AKAKU: Maui Community TV
  • Hawaii Energy Policy Forum
  • Hawaii Renewable Energy Alliance
  • Maui Farmers Union
  • High Tech Development Corporation
Kelly also sits on the board of ICLEI USA, the leading global network of cities, towns and regions committed to building a sustainable future.
Michelle Del Rosario,
Executive Assistant
Michelle has a strong background in real estate, sustainability, energy, public policy research and advocacy.  
Kate Griffiths,
Executive Assistant
With an honors degree from the London School of Economics and Political Science, Kate has always had a keen interest in how governance shapes our world. With her career in publishing and community advocacy, she continues her mission to support Maui, a place she has called home for over 20 years.
Suzanne Kayian,
Executive Assistant
Suzanne is a journalist with a passion for media and communications. With a dual degree in Sociology and Journalism, her interests in social issues range from environmental concerns to human rights.
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200 South High Street
Wailuku, HI 96793


NEWSLETTER - Fourth Quarter 2020