Message from Councilmember Kelly Takaya King
As the 50 th Anniversary of Earth Day approaches (April 22), I hope we will all be celebrating with sanity and continuing to shelter in place, wear face masks and keep washing our hands as necessary. As one who has always maintained that Earth Day is about saving the people, not the planet, we are now seeing that manifest as Mother Earth seems to be telling us it’s time to wake up and change our entitled way of life.

This is a critical time in our community’s future resiliency and we need everyone’s cooperation. My mind goes back to the amazing spirit of cooperation that my husband and I experienced with our first sunflower field, planted after the announcement that our sugar cane fields were closing forever. Every day during the first bloom, we had thousands of people, local and tourists, walking through the fields, most of them taking only pictures with them. After the harvest, Bob reported finding only two pieces of trash in the entire 14 acres! It still brings tears to my eyes when I think about the respect and appreciation our farm “visitors” exhibited, and the hope we saw in their reactions to the sunflowers.

The sunflower fields will again bloom this month, as they were planted more than a month ago, but there will be no farm visitors allowed. We are working on various photo ideas and will share awesome pics on social media. Mauians are as creative as we are caring, and I know we can all come up with fun and meaningful ways to celebrate the Earth and our environment from the safety of our own shelters. If you have a unique Earth Day visual (i.e. face mask), please send it to me in care of suzanne.kayian@mauicounty.us and I’ll post what I can on Earth Day.

Please respect all Maui farmers as folks continue to grow local food for us, and do not trespass on our precious agricultural operations. We will get through this, and we will need each when we do. For now, I’ll be spending my weekends making face masks … what will you do?
Earth Day
To celebrate Earth Day this year, get creative and email me photos of your COVID-19 stay-at-home Earth Day celebration ideas.

We will share them on social media for our virtual Earth Day celebration.

This photo was taken during our first sunflower bloom in 2017.
In the Chambers
Carbon bills

The Council voted March 13 to approve two resolutions supporting bills that will help cut carbon emissions while meeting the needs of our lowest income residents. The passage of these two bills would be a major legislative move toward fighting the impending climate crisis.

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.

Single Use Plastic Ban

This year, Environmental, Agricultural, and Cultural Preservation Committee Chair Shane Sinenci, who also is Vice Chair of our Climate Action and Resilience Committee, resurrected a proposed bill to prohibit the use and sale of single-use plastic foodware in Maui County. This measure brought out many testifiers in support, including middle school students pleading for a more plastic-free future. After lengthy deliberations, the bill passed out of the the EACP committee by a 5-1 vote on February 15, and then passed first reading at the March 20 Council meeting.

Charter Amendment: County Governance

CM King introduced several Charter amendments to facilitate more effective governmental operations. This quarter, the council voted 6-3 to advance the County Governance Charter Amendment to reorganize the executive branch of local government. Passage of the this Charter Amendment will establish a professional Managing Director as the County’s Chief Operating Officer and the Mayor as the County’s Chief Executive Officer. The proposed amendment must have another public hearing and pass second reading in the Council before it goes on the ballot for a public vote.

Budget Season

Each year during the month of April, the Maui County Council dedicates itself to review, amend and finalize the County of Maui budget. The budget is the financial plan for the county’s upcoming fiscal year and prescribes funding to carry out departmental duties, grants distributed through various departments, and rates and fees the county collects. The budget also includes appropriations for the county’s capital improvement projects, such as new facilities, major repair and maintenance upgrades to roads and the water system, and improvements of county parks for the next fiscal year, which runs from July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021.

Mayor Michael Victorino submitted his budget proposal to the Council on March 25. For the upcoming budget session, members were asked to submit their top five priorities that were not already in the Mayor's proposed budget – five district priorities and five countywide priorities. With important park, pavement and wastewater improvements for South Maui already included, CM King focused on three main areas: environmental protection, diversifying our economy, and strengthening our resilience to Climate Change.

Her environmental protection priorities include the continuation of ocean water quality testing, preserving and maintaining South Maui wetlands, and setting money aside to help purchase 257.7 acres mauka of Ma’alaea.

To help strengthen and diversify our economy, she proposed a new line-item in support of Food Security Hawaii, with an increase for the Farming Apprentice Program, which would be moved from HFUU. She also prioritized funds towards supporting Arts and Culture by increasing the economic development grant to the Maui Film Festival back to its current funding.

For Climate Action and Resiliency, CM King prioritized a coastal erosion study for Ma’alaea and a Coastal Dune project in South Maui. She also proposes to expand the Coastal Zone Management Division in the Planning Department, along with support for the Community Advisory Committees, and expand positions in the Department of Emergency Management to help combat the increasing effects of sea level rise and severe weather patterns that our islands are beginning to experience.

Resiliency will be key to the future of Maui County and these forward thinking proposals will help our islands thrive in the face of adversity.

During past budget sessions, Maui County Council's Economic Development and Budget Committee has hosted budget hearings where constituents can make their concerns known to Councilmembers before budget deliberations begin. In light of the emergency rules currently in place to slow the spread of COVID-19, the EDB Committee is taking a new approach this year.

While civic engagement is a priority, the Council has determined that all fiscal year 2021 budget deliberations will be conducted via video conferencing. Budget and Council meetings are also available for viewing live on Akaku Channel 53 and at MauiCounty.us.

Written testimony can be emailed to edb.committee@mauicounty.us and oral testimony can be provided by connecting to BlueJeans or calling 1-408-317-9253 and entering meeting code: 597 785 199. Any changes of the log-in information will be posted at MauiCounty.us and on Councilmember King’s social media accounts.

A complete list of EDB items can be found by following this link.

Committee meetings to discuss the budget began on March 30 and will likely continue throughout the month of April.

State Legislature

In January, CM King was among those who traveled to Honolulu for the opening day of the State legislative session to present the 2020 Maui County Legislative Package. The package included 15 bills that were drafted with the purpose of improving the quality of life for Maui County residents, including a bill to lower the threshold of blood alcohol concentration while driving, and one that extends the $5 million per year tax credit for the upgrading of cesspools through 2025.

As the Maui representative of the Hawaii State Association of Counties, CM King was among Hawaii county representatives who presented the HSAC legislative package to State lawmakers. Though the State Legislature is shuttered for the the time being, we will keep you posted on the progress of these bills in our next newsletter.
The first meeting of the Climate Action and Resilience Committee, with Kelly presiding.
Kelly with Governor David Ige, his wife Dawn and Representitive Calvin Say at the opening day of the 2020 State Legislative session.

South Maui Updates

Saving the Gardens

Thanks to the passage of a zoning change, Councilmember King was able to announce that South Maui Gardens in Kihei will be able to sell its plants and flowers on-site. Bill 81 (2019), which passed its final reading without opposition at the Jan. 10 council meeting, changed zoning of the South Maui Gardens property to B-2 Community Business District, allowing the nursery to conduct retail transactions on the premises for the first time.

South Maui Gardens has been a staple in Kihei for more than two decades, and by changing the zoning for their property, it will be much easier for the community to enjoy everything the nursery has to offer. The change in zoning also paved the way for Blue Door Bread Company to reopen its artisan (and Maui’s only vegan) bakery on the South Maui Gardens grounds.

Affordable Housing

South Maui's Kaiwahine Village project is expected to have its first occupancy in April, following delays due to last summer's wildfires. Because of the rapidly shifting nature of incomes and rates of unemployment right now, those who previously did not qualify for this affordable housing complex, may now qualify; there are several openings still available at the complex. These units are significantly under market rate, and rents vary depending on unit size, income and availability; income limits apply. For qualifying guidelines, call 808-206-9322 or visit the leasing office at 1325 S. Kihei Road, #204.

Parks and recreation

The new South Maui Gymnasium quickly became a central gathering place for meetings, games and events in South Maui. Though now closed to the public as part of the community's efforts to slow the spread of the virus, the demand for the facility has not decreased, and we hope to have activity on its full-sized sports courts, and in its sports grounds later this year.

The Department of Parks and Recreation is awaiting the structural assessment report for the existing wooden vertical ramps at Kalama Skate Park. The Mayor’s budget includes funding to provide for the recommended course of action for the existing wood vertical ramps, necessary safety railing, and the fencing required for the new concrete ramp.

The South Maui Community Park Playground improvements are expected to be completed by the end of April 2020.

The Kalama Park Playground shade structure and surfacing repairs will begin once the contractor has completed the shade structure for the South Maui Community Park playground. The project includes the installation of a 60-foot by 80-foot tensioned fabric shade structure over the existing playground.

Public Parks and Portable toilets: Due to the mandates relative to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Parks department has closed the bathroom facilities and installed portable toilets throughout South Maui at the following locations: Haycraft Park, Ka Lae Pohaku Park, Kalepolepo Park, Kalama Park, Cove Park, Charlie Young Beach Park, Palauea Park, Po’olenalena Park, Kilohana Park, Keawakapu II Beach Park, and Kamaole I, II and III.

Several residents have contacted our office with concerns about usage by disabled and homeless persons, which we have forwarded to the administration. We were able to confirm a recent addition of one ADA portable unit and one handwashing station within the north parking lot of Kalama Park. The Parks Department staff is assessing parks daily and working with the vendor on installation of additional portable toilets and handwashing stations in our parks. For the most updated list of locations, visit the Parks Department website.

Unsheltered in South Maui

Caring for our unsheltered in South Maui is more essential now than ever. We are actively working with community members, non-profits, other Councilmembers and the Mayor's office to ensure that the most vulnerable in our community do not slip through the cracks during this medical crisis. Councilmember King has made a personal donation to Share Your Mana (SYM), a Maui non-profit that has created a “rapid response” team to help the unsheltered in our County. In addition, our office has made a request to the Administration to include SYM in the emergency funding.

Ka Hale A Ke Ola Homeless Resource Center is ordering a new, smaller, ADA compliant mobile hygiene unit to compliment its Ka La Hiki Ola Mobile Hygiene Unit. These facilities-on-wheels are equipped with toilets, showers, a washer/dryer and workstations. They also provide cell phone charging and counseling office space. The goal for Ka La Hiki Ola’s first year was to assist at least 100 unsheltered residents of South Maui. Once the new unit arrives, the two will go out into the community together, increasing the estimated number of people whose needs can be met. We are dedicated to bringing the service to South Maui as soon as possible.

Infrastructure

We continue to focus on improving infrastructure to make our roadways safer for automobiles, bicyclists and foot traffic. One important artery for the South Maui district, the North-South Connector Road, is key to the future of Kihei. Once completed, it will help facilitate additional affordable housing projects and will provide better access to the future high school, while reducing congestion in the community.

Environmental permitting documents are still being prepared for NSCR, and the Department of Public Works (DPW) is looking to publish them later this year. A roundabout feasibility analysis that looks at the possibility of roundabouts at the intersections of Liloa Drive at Waipuilani Street, Kulanihakoi Street, and Kaonoula Street is almost complete. The preliminary design work on the roadway is at approximately 30% between Waipuilani Street and Kaonoulu Street.

DPW is targeting April of 2022 as the completion date for the portion of the
roadway between Waipuilani Street and Kulanihakoi Street. The schedule for portion between Kulanihakoi Street and Kaonoulu Street will be reviewed as DPW goes through the environmental permitting period.

Total connectivity of this complete street will provide true safety for pedestrians and cyclists on the segregated greenway, and the importance of its completion is vital as Kulanihakoi will be the focal point of movement for pedestrian and traffic to and from the future Kihei High School. Plans for a Grade Separated Pedestrian Crossing to provide safe access over the highway for students of the new Kihei High School are underway.
Working toward a sustainable future at the Whale Day parade w ith Representative Tina Wildberger.
Kelly always makes an effort to participate in community meetings, including this meeting of the Kihei Community Association.
Attending the launch of Maui Nui Marine Resource Council's pilot project to use oysters to improve water quality in Māʻalaea Harbor.
In Our Community
Our CAR Committee hosted a
booth at this year's Whale Day, where committee vice-chair
Shane Sinenci and Kelly talked
story with Maui youth.
Students from Iao Intermediate School meet with CM King after testifying in support of the
single-use plastic ban.
Kelly attended the Western Interstate Region Board meeting at the National Asscoiation of Counties Legislative Conference in Washington DC.
Keeping Up
As chair of Maui County Council's new Climate Action and Resilience Committee, I began the year focused on discovering the most efficient paths to reduce the effects of the impending climate crisis. My executive staff and the Office of Council Services worked with me to bring in experts from various organizations and nonprofits to make informative presentations to the CAR committee members. I created a CAR Advisory Group made up of community members with expertise and connections related to climate action. The information shared by all was essential. We learned what other groups are doing, where we can help, and where collaborative efforts would be beneficial.

When forming the Climate Action committee, it was important to encompass Resilience in its scope. As we fight to reverse climate change, we must come together as a community to become more resilient. What we didn't know at the beginning of the year was just how quickly Maui County would feel the impact of not having acted sooner to build resilience. The global pandemic we now face has made our vulnerabilities very real.

Denial is not an option, and now the community is coming together to flatten the curve, and protect and support our front-line first responders and medical workers. I'm seeing residents volunteer their time to help the unsheltered, kupuna and others at high risk during the COVID crisis. And, while there have been mistakes and delays, I truly believe community officials and leaders are trying their best to create solutions for the best interests of us all.

As the Council struggles to perfect the videoconferencing necessary to assure ongoing civic engagement, we will continue to provide our community with the tools needed to build a more resilient future while fighting to decrease the damage.

When considering resiliency – defined as the capacity of individuals, communities, institutions, businesses, and systems to survive, adapt, and thrive no matter what kinds of chronic stresses and acute shocks they experience – it is clear that food sustainability is a key aspect to keeping our county strong. As a member of the Maui Nui Food Alliance Steering Committee, I am also very supportive of local farmers who have pulled together to help provide fresh fruit and produce to many of us on the island during this crisis. There are also new organizations, including Common Ground Collective and Food Security Hawaii, diligently working to assure that our County will be able to survive and thrive through the COVID-19 and other crises.

U.S. Senator Brian Schatz has released a comprehensive resource guide to help Hawai'i families, workers, and small businesses better understand how to apply for new benefits and access federal funds established under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
Sen. Schatz also has links to additional resources available through his website. We appreciate Representative Schatz for helping us all navigate this unfamiliar situation.

On behalf of myself and my staff, we express gratitude to all first responders, essential workers and those in the medical field who are taking their lives in their own hands daily, providing basic needs, services and health care to the residents of Maui County. The Coronavirus has shown us how quickly Maui County can come together to help mitigate the damages of an acute stress like a worldwide pandemic. Please follow the new administrative rules by practicing social distancing, washing hands and common areas often and sheltering in place as much as possible, and maybe we’ll all get through this crisis sooner than predicted!
Office of Kelly Takaya King
Our office can be found on the 8th floor of the County Building, suites 819 and 820.
To learn more about becoming a member of KCA click here
Kelly Takaya King serves on state and national organizations including:
  • NACo’s Environmental Energy and Land Use Steering Committee
  • Hawaii State Association of Counties (HSAC) - Treasurer
  • Hui Malama Learning Center - Emeritus
  • Sustainable Biodiesel Alliance - Founder and immediate past-president
THE TEAM
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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NEWSLETTER - First Quarter 2020