Meeting Time: November 19, 2020 at 9:00am HST

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    Jason Economou over 3 years ago

    Aloha Committee Chair Paltin, Committee Vice-Chair Sinenci, and Committee Members,

    I am submitting the following testimony on behalf of the REALTORS Association of Maui (RAM) and the 1,700+ REALTORS and affiliates that we represent. This testimony is in regards to PSLU-44 and the proposed legislation attached thereto, which we must strongly oppose.

    When this legislation was previously discussed earlier in the year, one of the primary arguments was that additional advisory committees are necessary to increase access for the public to provide input in certain residency areas. Since that time, Planning Commission and Council meetings have moved to online forums that provide equal access to all residents regardless of geographical location. Therefore, this legislation is no longer necessary in that regard. Instead, perhaps the Council could increase access by creating more public wi-fi locations in those residency areas.

    Aside from this legislation no longer being necessary as it relates to increasing access to public testimony opportunities, it is also antithetical to pretty much everything the County has been advised when it comes to planning and zoning practices. Rather than streamlining the process or reducing bureaucracy, this proposal adds an unnecessary extra layer of review which is guaranteed to add time and cost to any project unfortunate enough to fall under these advisory committees’ purview. Moreover, finding qualified members, making quorum, and staffing the advisory committees are additional burdens that will need to be addressed frequently if you move forward with this unnecessary legislation. I honestly cannot see the upside to adding these advisory committees, unless the goal actually is to make the process less efficient and more costly.

    Additionally, some of the language that has been added to the newest version of this legislation is just not a good idea. For instance, under section 2.28.070 entitled “Planning commission and advisory committee membership requirements,” you want to add the following language: “At least one member of each advisory committee must be a third-generation resident of that advisory committee’s assigned area. If a third-generation resident is not identified, then a second-generation resident will be selected.” I’m no expert, but this sure looks like discrimination based on place of origin. How will the generational requirement be determined? What if the applicant moved to the area as a child, or their parent moved to the area as a child, do they not qualify? What if you have a Native Hawaiian who moved to Maui as an adult after being born and raised on the mainland going for the same opening as a third-generation lineal descendant of one of the old missionary families (e.g. a Bailey or Baldwin), does the descendant of the missionary somehow matter more because their family never had to leave Maui? I can understand the intent behind this section, but this sort of requirement is honestly a little offensive.

    If you want to increase opportunities for public feedback from specific residency areas, there are a couple of really simple things you can do that won’t require a whole new layer of bureaucracy: First, require that the Maui Planning Commission consist of at least one representative from each residency district on the Island of Maui. Second, continue to allow remote access and testimony for all Planning Commission and Council meetings. You could even go a step further and offer free wi-fi at all community centers during Planning Commission and Council meetings, and it would still be cheaper and more efficient while meeting the same goals. These solutions will not add time and cost to projects, they ensure equal access to all members of the public regardless of geographical location, and they ensure each residency district has equal representation on the Planning Commission itself. Otherwise, you might as well just create separate planning commissions for each residency area. That would be just as troublesome, but it would actually be streamlined compared to what you are proposing.

    Jason A. Economou

    Government Affairs Director
    REALTORS Association of Maui