Message from Councilmember Kelly Takaya King
Aloha Kākou,

I hope you are all enjoying the beautiful summer weather and special places Maui has to offer. Whether that means spending more time at a favorite beach, trail, park, or eatery, I am grateful that vaccine availability has eased pandemic restrictions and is allowing us to spend more time with friends and family, especially after the last year of lockdown and social distancing.

Our progress against the COVID-19 pandemic has been made possible by our community’s diligent efforts to isolate and get vaccinated during this unprecedented time. Mahalo nui for all of your sacrifices to keep Maui safe, and please, if you or someone you know has not been vaccinated, visit to find a clinic near you.

As vaccination rates rise and the transmission of COVID-19 declines, I am now able to shift even more attention to the longstanding issues I was elected to address. The environment, affordable housing, and resident quality of life remain some of my greatest priorities. The proposals I was able to get included in the recently passed County budget, as well as recent and upcoming legislation, will go a long way toward advancing these priorities for our island and its people. I am excited to share some of the updates on these initiatives in this newsletter and to hear your feedback and ideas.
Recently, I was invited to speak at a press conference recognizing the historic adoption of State Senate Concurrent Resolution 44 (click to watch), Declaring a Climate Emergency and Requesting Statewide Collaboration. In my remarks, I compared the coronavirus pandemic to the climate crisis. While the impact of COVID-19 was felt quickly and immediately, the climate crisis has been ignored for too long because of its gradual progression. Yet, the effects of the climate emergency are just asif not moredire, and will require similar or greater levels of cooperation, leadership, and action.
This is our chance to innovate and pivot. Let’s learn the lessons of COVID-19: We must think outside the box, move quickly, and find the opportunity in this crisis.

Yours in sustainability,
Virtual Community Meetings

We invite you to join us for our virtual Webinars and Town Halls. These meetings address community concerns, and our most recent event on Sustainable and Regenerative Tourism (click for video) drew more than 1,600 unique viewers on Zoom and Facebook!

To join the conversation, sign up for this newsletter and follow us on Facebook for announcements of upcoming virtual events. Our webinars and town halls are also archived on our Facebook page.

If you have an idea for a webinar or town hall
that will benefit our community, please email our office via
In the Virtual Chambers
Fiscal Year 2022 Budget

Budget deliberations carried on virtually this year, underscoring the impact COVID-19 had on the County. Councilmember King's priorities this budget session were to maintain support for social services and other nonprofits, increase the affordable housing fund, and strengthen the County's response to climate change. CM King's broad goal with these proposals was to protect and restore the natural environment, and to invest in a recovery that centers the principles of a diversified, circular economy.

The 2022 Fiscal Year began on July 1, 2021. This budget (click for documents) includes the following line items that were introduced by Councilmember King:

  • Funding for County Council District Offices and staff in South Maui and Ha`iku-Pa`ia-Makawao Residency Areas. The pandemic has shown that current technology enables offices to be decentralized. One benefit of this capability is that it closes the distance between community and government, even when physical meetings are not possible. These new district offices will bring representatives and County staff closer to the people they serve, while allowing the public enhanced accessibility to testify and stay in touch.

  • Funding for an additional Economic Development Specialist II in the Office of the Mayor's Climate Change, Resiliency, and Sustainability program. Since its creation last year, the Climate Change, Resiliency, and Sustainability program within the Mayor's Office has been looking at climate action from the lens of the executive branch. The additional staff member will go a long way toward helping the office accomplish its goals. This staffer will also work on the development of requests for proposals and information for a local, net-zero, affordable manufactured housing factory and pilot research and development for locally sourced, sustainable building materials.

  • Funding for three additional staff members for the Planning Department, to assist with Planning Advisory Committees. This year, the County Council created two new Advisory Committees to the Planning Commission for the areas of South Maui and Pa`ia-Ha`iku. The Advisory Committees were borne out of a response to community concerns that the Planning Commission members were not familiar with the needs of certain areas. The staffing will allow the Advisory Committees to conduct business in accordance with the Sunshine Law, which will enable community members to have more input into the Planning Commission's process and promote more community-oriented decision making.
  • Funding for the acquisition of 257.7 acres of open space at Ma`alaea Mauka. The area of Mauna Kahalawai, or the West Maui Mountains, upslope of Ma`alaea Bay and Harbor is a critical area for the health of the ecosystem and safety of residents. During a single rain event this year, 32 tons of soil were washed into the Bay from runoff, according to the Maui Nui Marine Resource Council. The area is also a brush-fire risk. Purchasing this parcel and partnering with the State Department of Land and Natural Resources will allow the County and State government to collaborate on land management best practices to ensure that the health of the ecosystem and safety of residents are fully considered. Photo: Runoff into Ma`alaea from one rain event. Proper land management should reduce the impact of such events. Photo courtesy Maui Nui Marine Resource Council
  • Funding for a countywide Shoreline Access Study to identify obstructed shoreline areas and access point pathways, assess lateral shoreline access, and make recommendations for County action. With sea level rise threatening shorelines, access to the ocean is also at risk. This study will determine what is needed to preserve and restore access now and in the future.

  • Countywide Drinking Water Assessment for Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)-compliant water refill stations. To combat the problem of plastic pollution, decrease the spread of germs at water fountains, and improve access to water at County facilities, CM King has requested a $50,000 earmark on the County's American Rescue Plan Act funding to go toward an assessment of existing facilities. With this assessment, the County Parks Department can begin to replace the water fountains in most need of repair with water refill stations.

  • Grants, grants, grants! The Council approved CM King's provisos for the following funding to businesses and organizations with projects that benefit our communities:
  • Kihei Green Waste and Composting - up to $150,000 for green waste and composting services.
  • ReTree Hawai`i - up to $45,000 for native tree planting, education, climate change mitigation, and its annual tree-planting day.
  • Rooted Kekahi Me Ka `Āina - up to $63,000 for wetland restoration, native planting, education, cultural practices, and safety improvements for sites in South Maui.
  • Maui Ocean Center Marine Institute - up to $25,000 to support its efforts rescuing South Maui's endangered sea turtles.
  • Kihei Fourth Friday - up to $20,000 for its events, which promote local entertainment, eateries, and small businesses. With vaccinations increasing, we hope to (safely) see you there soon!
  • Kihei Community Association - up to $10,000 to paint bike lanes green to increase visibility, promote road safety, and encourage multimodal transportation.

Moratorium on Building Permits for Visitor Accommodations in South and West Maui

On July 2nd, the County Council passed Councilmember King's historic moratorium on building permits for visitor accommodations. Click here to read more. The bill now awaits a response from the Mayor. Letters of support for the moratorium continue to come in to our office from residents and even tourists who are frequent visitors concerned about overtourism. The moratorium will help pause the concerning expansion of the visitor industry, which has already exceeded expectations for 2021 and accommodates visitor volume higher than the mandate of our Maui Island Plan. The moratorium will prohibit the issuance of building permits for visitor accommodations in South and West Maui for a period of two years or until the relevant Community Plan is completed. The bill will not impact existing accommodations or industry workers. During this time, please participate in the Community Plan process to help guide development after the moratorium is lifted! An additional bill to expand the moratorium island-wide is currently awaiting review by the Maui Planning Commission.

Recognizing Climate Change and Resilience in the Countywide Policy Plan

When the Countywide Policy Plan was adopted in 2010, the public concern about climate change did not yet match the severity of the issue. Now, the environmental crisis has been recognized by the County and State. It is time that Maui's Countywide Policy Plan, a statement of our County's over-arching values and policy framework set in ordinance, reflect what we now know about the climate emergency. In June, the Council passed a bill on first reading to add a section to the Plan: "L. Mitigate Climate Change and Work Toward Resilience." This addition lays the groundwork for the County to prioritize policies that address emissions, sea level rise, the use of green technologies. Public hearings on this amendment will be held on this topic soon. Stay posted for updates!
Recognizing Affordable Housing Developer Douglas Bigley and Ikaika Ohana

Developer Douglas Bigley, his business partner Tom Fischer, and their nonprofit affordable housing development organization Ikaika Ohana have been modeling truly affordable housing for folks in the lowest income brackets. At a time when the housing need is immense and other developers are reluctant to take on these types of housing projects, Ikaika Ohana has built developments with 100% of the units devoted to affordable prices, targeting the needs of those making 60% of the area median income or less. In addition, compliments and praise from residents of Ikaika Ohana's Kaiwahine Village acknowledge its care and craftmanship. The Kaiwahine Village in Kihei even received a Gold LEED Certification for its green building strategies! This resolution recognizes and thanks the Ikaika Ohana team for its service to Maui. Photo: Kaiwahine Village, an affordable LEED Gold Certified development that's earned the praise of residents.
SB 1034 Passes, Online Meetings to Continue

This State legislation was supported by CM King because of the significant impact it will have on the business of the County Council. Passed this session, Senate Bill 1034 is now law. Act 220 allows the continued use of video conference technology such as BlueJeans or Zoom for board, council, and commission meetings. Mahalo to Common Cause for advocating for this bill, which has increased civic engagement and transparency greatly in Maui County. The implementation of this technology during the pandemic lockdown enabled the participation of many who might otherwise be unable to attend meetings physically. The Council has received positive feedback on its virtual meetings, so some form of virtual meeting is likely to continue even when it is safe to meet indoors in person. What, exactly, that may look like going forward is still up for discussion. Maui County also received an award at the latest National Association of Counties Annual Conference for “Enhancing Civic Engagement Through Online Legislative Meetings." Photo: CM King with Office of Council Services Staff (L-R: Nicole Siegel, Kasie Apo Takayama, CM Kelly King, Shelly Espeleta, Lesley Milner) at the awards ceremony in Prince George's County, Maryland.
Addressing Plastic Pollution

Plastic pollution is a global problem of great proportions. However, like the plastic bag ban, Maui County can still be a leader in addressing issues of this magnitude. At the June 30 CARE meeting, the Committee unanimously advanced three pieces of legislation related to plastic pollution. The first is a resolution urging our State's Congressional Delegation to support the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act, which shifts the burden of waste management and recycling to the manufacturers and distributors of plastics, rather than the consumer or underdeveloped nations. The two bills passed would prohibit the sale and rental of disposable body boards ("boogie boards") and the sale and use of disposable styrofoam coolers. These pieces of legislation will head to a County Council meeting soon for passage! Photo from the Hawai`i Wildlife Fund Discovery Center showing art made from recovered plastic pollution.

Preview: Upcoming in CARE Committee

The CARE Committee has a full agenda and will be moving ahead on initiatives to bolster the County's climate action, resilience, and environmental efforts. To view the list of items currently on the CARE Committee's master agenda, click here. You can always contact us with your input and feedback on these issues! In the coming months, CM King plans to look at the use of pesticides on County properties, the ongoing County lawsuit against fossil fuel companies, Maui County's progress toward a circular economy, wetland protection and restoration, sea level rise, reef-toxic sunscreen prohibition, and net-zero building requirements.
Sustainable and Regenerative Tourism
On June 21, Councilmember Kelly King hosted a virtual town hall on sustainable and regenerative tourism. The public input was immense and showed the public's interest and concern in this issue. Mahalo to panelists Dr. Genesis Young, Orion Cruz, and Ekolu Lindsey. A sustainable tourism summit is planned for September 20-21, 2021, and will continue this important conversation!
South Maui Updates

CM King and staff continue outreach to South Maui residents despite the limitations of the pandemic. We utilize videoconferencing technology to regularly meet with stakeholders, colleagues, and constituents. CM King presents webinars, hosts panel discussions, and facilitates multiple public meetings. Public input is important to the decision-making process!

Rental and Utility Assistance
Rental and utility assistance is available for Maui residents! Support for up to 12 months can be provided, up to $2,000/month for rent and $500 for utilities. To learn more, visit or call the helpline at 808-873-4673

South Maui Community Plan

What do you envision for South Maui in the decades to come? Get involved and share your thoughts by becoming a part of the South Maui Community Plan process and visiting On Tuesday, July 13, from 4:30-6:30pm, the County hosted a Housing Town Hall (click to watch) as part of the Community Plan Update process. Keiki can get involved too by participating in the Dream Big Project, which collects the visions of those under the age of 18.

Affordable Housing

In March, the Council received a draft of the Comprehensive Affordable Housing Plan created by Jeff Gilbreath and his team at Hawaiian Community Assets. CM King has long been a proponent of this kind of a comprehensive plan to put 5,000 affordable homes online in the next five years. With this blueprint in hand, CM King is looking to implement some of the suggestions as soon as possible to address the housing crisis. Learn about the plan and how you can contribute to it at A final draft will be presented on Monday, July 19, to the Affordable Housing Committee. Follow along at
CM King presented to the ICLEI World Congress Circular Development Session, an international conference hosted from Malmo, Sweden. While transitioning to a circular economy might be seen as a new trend, it's actually aligned with the indigenous concepts that traditionally guided Hawai`i! Click here to watch the presentation.
The Maui County Council supports CM King's initiative to form a youth leadership program. With the help of our office's wonderful summer interns from Upward BoundAbseydee, Abraham, and Nikkiwe are putting together a plan to create a Youth Council. Details to come! Please email us if you have ideas or recommendations for high school-aged participants.
An office update: Executive Assistant Michelle Del Rosario has left the office of CM King to pursue other career opportunities. Mahalo, Michelle, for your years of service and support for CM King. We wish you all the best in future endeavors! Sarah Sexton, Axel Beers, and Ellen McKinley (L-R in photo) are on staff. Read more about us below.
In the Community
The Maui County Kākou: Civic Engagement Video Series (click for video) series is online now! Get a crash course in County civics from local personalities like George Kahumoku Jr. and Kathy Collins. Share with your family and friends, learn about the process, and get involved!
The grand opening and blessing of Hawai`i Wildlife Fund's Discovery Center in West Maui was held on July 7. In partnership with Whaler’s Village and coordination with NOAA’s Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, this center will educate visitors about the marine environment and what we can do to save the oceans! Photo: HWF Executive Director Hannah Bernard at the blessing and opening ceremony for the Discovery Center.
CM King attended the June 10th groundbreaking and blessing of three nature-based wastewater disposal pilot projects in Kihei. The innovative projects use vetiver grass, native plants, and bioreactor technology to filter R-1 quality recycled water. The plants and bioreactor are projected to absorb harmful nutrients before it can reach coastal water! Read more. Photo by Darla Palmer-Ellingson
CM King and her family attended the premiere party for the HBO Series The White Lotus, which was filmed on Maui. The film industry is an opportunity for the County to diversity its economy and provide skilled, well paying jobs for residents.
National Association of Counties Annual Conference
The National Association of Counties (NACo) Annual Conference was held from July 8-12 in Prince George's County, Maryland. The Conference was an opportunity to network and learn from other counties across the nation. While there, CM King was able to meet with Representatives Kai Kahele and Ed Case to discuss President Biden's infrastructure bill and how to maximize its benefit to Maui County. As a voting member of NACo's Environment, Energy & Land Use Steering Committee, CM King also voted for a number of resolutions to advocate for environmental goals within the federal government.
Vice President Kamala Harris, who started her career in County government, gave a speech highlighting the important role counties play as the frontline in the response to and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Former State Senator Malama Solomon, Representative Kai Kahele, and CM King met in Washington, DC for a lū`au commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act. Over the last century, this law has been important in providing affordable homes for Native Hawaiians.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi held a discussion with the new NACo President Larry Johnson. They spoke about the upcoming infrastructure bill and the support and flexibility it will provide to counties during this critical period of time.
CM King and Hawai`i County Managing Director Lee Lord met with Rep. Ed Case at his Washington, DC office to speak about the infrastructure bill and funding to their respective counties for wastewater, managed retreat, and tourism management needs.
Learn more about becoming a member of Kihei Community Association here.
Learn more about becoming a member of Ma`alaea Village 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 at (808) 270-7108 or via email during regular business hours.

In addition to contributing to many non-profits, including the Hawaiian Islands Land Trust and Hale KauKau, Kelly King has served Hawai`i 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
  • Climate Reality Project Maui
  • 100 Women Who Care
Kelly also sits on the board of ICLEI USA, the leading global network of cities, towns and regions committed to building a sustainable future.
Axel Beers
Executive Assistant
Axel is a born-and-raised Maui boy now raising a young family of his own. He has experience in education and journalism, and a strong interest in politics and policy.
Ellen McKinley
Executive Assistant
Ellen is passionate about policy, sustainability, and environmental issues, and she received recognition as a Volunteer Hero by the County of Maui in 2021. She is licensed as an attorney in California and Washington.
Sarah Sexton
Executive Assistant 
Sarah has spent much of her adult life building community through a cultural arts lens as a live event producer. Since graduating from UC Berkeley, where she studied politics in pop culture, she has shifted her focus to local government, and volunteer work as an exotic animal caregiver.
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200 South High Street
Wailuku, HI 96793


NEWSLETTER - Second Quarter 2021