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    Guest User 2 months ago

    I oppose to opening Lahaina due to the residents of Maui and families having time to grieve. I believe that this is a time that they need to get on their feet’s and their privacy is well needed as well. Opening Lahaina can bring a lot of controversy, division, hurtful intentions and costumer service will not be the same. Hear the cries of the people of Maui and know these are hardworking , dedicated, and strong individuals that need space and time to heal. I am not born and raised in Maui but I’ve adapted to the culture and aloha that is given . Aloha is very deep and if we are performing customer service to tourist that come to Lahaina it would have to be a dedication of a whole heartedly well being one to another . Residents lost friends, family and are going through trauma with what happened on August 8,2023. When Lahaina is ready then it’s time to continue what they wanna do first. Years and years of service to the United States of America and being a resident should come down to what the people of Lahaina choose to do . We the people of Maui should come together to rebuild and to rebuild one another up . The same way we show love and dedication to tourist is the same we we’ve been showing love towards one another. Please I ask that you do what is right . I am a firm believer with what goes around comes around . What you give into the world will surely come back . Lahaina lost a lot and you don’t want each individual to feel like their voice of what they choose to do is not being heard as well . Some are looking for housing , and looking for a place to call home when prices is ridiculously high . We as the people can find ways we don’t always got to depend on tourism and we can depend on one another and learn from this tragic situation how to better resolve it . Don’t point fingers Maui and continue to love, continue to heal, and continue to know that we as the people is capable of alot.
    The future of our families are at stake . The future of Maui is at stake. The future of visitors are at stake. The determination of opening Maui and treating the people of Lahaina reflects on who we are as ONE. If we treat those that are asking for more time like nothing then we fail as One to care for our own residents and family . We have people and families ready to build let that sink in that higher officials don’t always have to set the rules let the voices and hearts be heard for you to better lead . Having faith in the people of Maui is the way . Hearing and trusting the people of Lahaina is the way. Being pono and living pono is the way . May you all stay blessed brothers and sisters of Maui.

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    Guest User 2 months ago

    I am not sure what I would be opposing. I support dialog and mutual effort between those that will set the rules and those that are just trying to sustain themselves and their families. What I am hearing is ‘please don’t talk at us, let’s talk together’. We ARE in this together. Can we not find a way to agree to not push forward too soon. Can we all move forward peacefully and with respectful concern on all sides for the people of Lahaina who were burned out of their homes and employment. They should be first concern, not the hotel.

    Mahalo. Judy Jarvie. 40 year resident of Maui.

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    Guest User 2 months ago

    Prioritize residents: Lahaina rebuild efforts and pending building permit process

    Aloha Maui Council members,

    With all the suggestions presented yesterday, we did not see anything about priority building permits for residents. With the shortage of materials and labor, it would be nice for residents to get their permits first. Vacation rentals contribute to the tax base for sure, however with so many displaced residents, it would make a substancial difference if all the resident permits were approved before even reviewing the vacation rental applications. We hope any "Emergency" permitting process prioritized residents over investment properties. Once all the residents have all received their permits, only then begin to review all the vacation rental building permit applications. Even revised resident permits we hope will be prioritized over mainland and foreign real estate investor permit applications.

    Of course a moratorium on ALL TVR's would go a long way to helping residents find a medium term home until we can rebuild our homes. Including the invisible grandfathered in units that do not show up on the county site. Is there anyway to have them all listed? Maybe they get guaranteed TVR permits, but we can actually see how many there are. We know in our community TVRs are grandfathered in, however we have no way of knowing if it really is a TVR as we cannot find any info on them. We try and review the Minotoya List, it is difficult. If the county could keep this actual list, maybe cross checking with the GET or TAT. We just cannot tell who is doing a legal TVR vs renting to "Friends". Please find a way to make a comprehensive listing of all TVR in the county please.

    We are looking forward to rebuilding as soon as we get our permits approved, get materials on island and find a great group of people to build it. We are making modifications to the old design for ADA access. We hope this does not delay to process too much. We are right on the southern edge of the destruction. We lost everything.

    40 Puakukui Pl
    Lahaina, 96761

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    Guest User 2 months ago

    Date: Sep 27, 2023
    County Council Government Relations, Ethics, and Transparency Committee
    Committee Chair - Nohelani U‘u-Hodgins
    Committee Vice-Chair - Tamara Paltin

    Subject: Urgent Request for Investigation and Action Regarding Recent Tragic Events in Lahaina

    Dear Members of the County Council Government Relations, Ethics, and Transparency Committee,
    I hope this letter finds you well. I am writing to express my deep concern and distress over the recent events that have unfolded in Lahaina, particularly the tragic loss of over 100 lives and the displacement of over 7,000 individuals due to a devastating incident. These events have had a profound impact on our community, and we must take immediate steps to ensure that such a catastrophe never occurs again.
    The Maui Fire Prevention Bureau plays a critical role in safeguarding our community from fire hazards and promoting public safety. Their core responsibilities include:
    1. Education: The Fire Prevention Bureau is responsible for developing and implementing programs that increase public awareness of fire safety. This encompasses educating the community about fire risks and preventive measures.
    2. Enforcement: Code enforcement is a vital function of the bureau, focusing on the enforcement of fire codes and regulations. This includes inspections, investigation of complaints, and ensuring compliance with fire safety standards.
    3. Prevention: Fire prevention is at the heart of the bureau's mission. They are tasked with abating fire and life-safety hazards before they can cause injury and property damage.
    In May 2022, I initiated correspondence with the Fire Prevention Bureau regarding my concerns about fire prevention and safety in our community. I outlined the need for proactive measures, such as press releases and public service announcements, to engage the community in fire prevention efforts. I did so under the assumption that these requests aligned with the bureau's core responsibilities.
    However, despite my efforts to bring attention to potential hazards and the importance of prevention, I received responses that indicated a lack of resources and insufficient action. These emails serve as evidence of my attempts to address the issue and the responses received from the Fire Prevention Bureau.
    The tragic events that have befallen our community in Lahaina are a stark reminder of the consequences of inaction and inadequate allocation of resources when it comes to fire prevention and safety. The loss of over 100 lives and the displacement of thousands underscore the urgency of ensuring that the bureau fulfills its basic responsibilities.
    I kindly request that your committee:
    1. Initiate a thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding these events, with a specific focus on the actions (or lack thereof) taken by the Maui Fire Prevention Bureau in response to concerns raised by community members.
    2. Evaluate the adequacy of resources allocated to the Fire Prevention Bureau and other relevant agencies responsible for ensuring public safety and fire prevention on Maui.
    3. Recommend necessary policy changes, resource allocations, or personnel adjustments to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future.
    4. Ensure transparency throughout the investigative process and actively engage with affected community members to provide updates and gather additional information.
    In addition to my correspondence with the Fire Prevention Bureau, I also escalated my concerns to various offices within the county government, including the Office of Climate Change, Resiliency, and Sustainability, the Mayor's office, and the Mayor's PR communication department. I requested a public announcement to educate the Maui community about fire prevention. Unfortunately, no action was taken in response to these requests.
    The loss of over 100 lives and the displacement of thousands in our community are tragedies that should never have happened. We owe it to the victims and their families to thoroughly investigate the circumstances surrounding these events and take swift and effective action to prevent such disasters in the future.
    I appreciate your attention to this matter and your commitment to the safety and well-being of our community. I am ready and willing to provide any further information or assistance that may aid in your investigation.
    Thank you for your prompt and earnest consideration of this urgent request.

    West Maui Community leader

    Saman Dias

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    Guest User 2 months ago

    Aloha Kakou,
    Thank you for taking testimony about the future of Lahaina. Restore water rights to the Native Hawaiians and allow them to manage these precious resources correctly. Water is a human right, not a priviledge Limit outside investors or voices as they will pollute our rebuilding process and delay community healing. This is a great opportunity to plan ahead of the next fire. These fires are manmade- created by overdevelopment and lack of green areas. Now is our chance to make it right.
    As a teacher of all ages, grades k-12 and beyond, I have worked in Lahaina schools over the past 20 years and submit my support for the keiki to create better schools with at least two evacuations routes. Our students are the foundation of our town, we need to plan a large area for the youth and teens to gather, along with expansive green areas to curb fire risks.
    Our students, many of whom are displaced, have priority over any "development " or tourism. Lahaina has been pimped out for too long!! In these next 6-12 months, the rest of the State can absorb the visitors. They can return to West Maui after the children have safe roads (the Pali), safe water, and shade so they can use agriculture to develop a self sufficient economy. Manage the land with crops and ulu trees. Vacant land will just be another fire threat.

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    Leslie Farnel 2 months ago

    It is unconscionable that the government tell the people of Lahaina how the rebuild and recovery will happen. It is the people's town. It does not belong to the state or the county. The government has gone against the wishes of the residents for way too long. It stops now. The people have been sacrificed as collateral damage for the tourism industry. There are times I would need to walk in the street because the sidewalks were crammed with disrespectful tourists. The new buildings are not for the residents. They clutter the land with tourism development. This has killed the ocean, displaced the wildlife and contributed to climate change. Quit blaming the weather. Quit blaming the electric company or the big land owners. It is development done without consideration that has brought us to this point. It's sad. But we have a clean slate. Let's not do what we did after covid reopening. You guys promised it would be different. Nothing changed. No more empty promises. No more lies. It stops now. Listen to the people and follow their wishes

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    Guest User 2 months ago

    Not a Lahaina resident but have a few constructive thoughts which may have already covered.
    Put all electrical lines under ground, Water should be for the use of all residents and not governed
    by special interests always available in emergencies free flowing streams is not in the interest of all.
    A volunteer fire and police should be in place to augment firefighters and police in emergencies.
    Access roads in out Lahana there should not be only one road. 3 Air water tankers stationed in Oahu
    that can go to any island to fight fires in accessible locations . Better emergency coordination to
    have fire fighters police and medical personnel come to area needing assistance from other islands.
    A Ferry system that support local people to get from one island but also gets emergency vehicles and
    personnel quickly. I know some of these suggestions can be expense but so are the destructions of fire
    and tropical storms.
    Les Sang
    950 Lekeona Loop
    Wailuku HI 96793

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    Guest User 2 months ago

    after going back to work from the Lahaina fire three weeks later , i have already noticed tourist coming to the westside into our office asking questions about is it okay to drive throw the burned town and we nicely tell them they can not and they make a face or say something inappropriate about how that unacceptable . I strongly believe now is not the time to let tourist back into the community when they can not even respect those lives lost or displaced because of the fire . we should use this time to rebuild and take care of those in need and stop becoming dependent on tourist . we should only focus on rebuilding what was lost for now and finding a permeant solution to their lodging now

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    Guest User 2 months ago

    rights for renters... zone 7 was all the apartment. the multicultural, the multigenerational people lived. i propose they stipulate that when hale mahaolu lahaina surf, state senior and front street apartments recieve funding to rebuild, they put all their EXISTING tenants on aug 8 1st on the waitlist and NOT A LOTTERY. we are the kupunas, the aunties and uncles oarents keiki and all the workers and baby sitters, the school kids, the teens and the teachers hotel workers, bus boys "we are Lahaina Surf". we ee all one community and need low income housing allocation guaranteed. and 1st on waitlist wherever and when ever our landlords rebuild.

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    Guest User 2 months ago

    With all the suggestions we agree with, we did not see anything about priority building permits for residents. With the shortage of materials and labor, it would be nice for residents to get their permits first. Vacation rentals contribute to the tax base for sure, however with so many displaced residents, it would be a real life saver if all the resident permits were approved before even reviewing the vacation rental applications. Of course a moratorium on ALL TVR's would go a long way to helping residents in the short term. Including the invisible grandfathered in units.

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    Guest User 2 months ago

    First, I would like to say thank you to the council for coming TO LAHAINA and for taking time to meet with us and LISTEN to us. Second I would like to thank my community for all of your efforts. I loved Maui before and despite what has happened I TRULY see now and understand what the real meaning of Ohana is.

    With that, I would like to take one minute of my time for silence to remember our Ohana who perished in the August 8 fires as well as take this time to grieve in the silence to represent the mourning that we EACH feel in our heart.


    With my last two minutes I am going to give you an outsider perspective. Which an outsider I am. I landed here on October 30, 2008 which a corporate job that brought me here from Texas. Immediately after stepping into the breezeway to get off the airplane, I felt a sense of peace I will never forget. I believe that peace was a peace telling me I was home.

    Three months after that I was beat up by two local women for mistakenly cutting them off on the H-2 highway in Oahu while I was there on business. I was literally chased off the road, and yelled at “to go back home back to where I came from you Haole; you do not belong here”.

    Despite that set back and even a few others my first year, by the end of 2009 I knew even STILL that I was right where I was meant to be. Literally ALL THE ROADS OF MY LIFE led me here, and indeed if you knew my story you would agree! Fast forward to 2023, after the fires I was given an opportunity to pack it up and move to Texas, where we Betsill’s are from. Same with the pandemic in 2020. I could have left and gone down the easy SELFISH road but I stayed because I love Hawaii so much.

    Fast forward to now. This is my home and I refuse to live here any longer and not be a part of the solution(s). For many years I was a part of the problem. Running around like a chicken with my head cut off for almost a decade having owned three wedding and event planning businesses, as well as two rental company businesses with my husband. I was busy. I was not paying attention. I was not helping. I was living here benefiting from the land, our Aina, and not giving back the way I should. After this tragedy in Lahaina town though and knowing myself over 36 families that lost their homes I simply refuse to live here anymore and not be a part of the solution!

    So with that, I have a question for you. Will you accept me as an “outsider”? Will you allow me the honor to come into this County and State to help make forward progress change that protects the interests of Hawaii nei and many of you in this room? This is not rocket science. This is unity over division. This is living in a mentality of the RISING TIDES LIFT ALL BOATS. And again let me repeat, UNITY OVER DIVISION.

    In closing, i want to share a few strong sentiments that i have…

    1. For years i have been hearing about water, can we please just give the water back. I do not understand what the big deal is. Peter Martin donated two acres of land to Maui County for a fire station in March of 2021 that i helped organize. He is generous and wants to make things right. I BELIEVE. My point though is just give the water back. It seems crazy to me that the government does not own it. Especially being one of the wettest places on the planet Earth, how, simply how did we lose water the days of the fire in not one part of the Island but TWO??? Kula literally experienced the same issue of running out of water.
    2. On that note and to segway, Hawaii is one of the most strategically placed archipelagos on the Planet. The furthest removed land mass from anyone else in the world. IF Hawaii was sovereign today, I strongly believe with every ounce of my soul that another country would be here immediately to take over. We are a GLOBAL WORLD NOW. There is no going back from that so is it not better to be aligned with the USA? Or what would be better? Can someone please explain to me a better solution when and if Hawaii becomes sovereign, what happens next?
    3. Lastly: infrastructure and government. There is a huge disconnect between the local, state, and federal government. As well as I BELIEVE we are living in a very opportunistic county with little or no transparency for over a century now. That needs to stop. The good old boys club and the bullying of our government officials needs to stop. Saying things to the Councilmen and Councilwomen today “we are watching you and how you vote”. “We are paying attention to what you are doing”. I mean who says that? WHY are things li
    IF you want to serve in government and VOTE then get involved. You know that ANYONE can get into politics or public office as a citizen of the United States of America. Moving forward I expect to see as a west Maui resident those power lines to be buried in Lahaina town. That is number one. And then after Lahaina, we need a five year plan to bury our power lines in Honokowai, Kahana and Napili. As guess what? It is US next up there. If you see the power lines right outside my neighborhood in Kahana it is SO alarming. I am literally just waiting for this to happen to me. The afternoon of the fires my dear friends, Dallas and Crystal Mitchell who own 808 Boards drove straight to my house. His ears were still smoking from a fire ball hitting the back of his head while hosing down his roof. Even more tragically for their situation, this is the SECOND time their house burnt down. in 2018 their house was one of the 22 homes lost that were rebuilt and believe that THIS TIME around, this is on the hands of a disorganized system and government who also could REALLY use some more eyes on the budget.

    IF IT IS TRUE that Lahaina generates 40% of the taxable revenue in Hawaii then we need to do more for Lahaina. We need Hui F Rd. fixed. We need sidewalks in Kahana. We need our parks restored and a skate park in Napili. And we REALLY need stoplights down by the old car wash off of Keawe and outside of what i feel is number one with burying the power lines, we NEED THAT bypass extended. You guys are not going to build 400 new homes and then not give me a way to get out when my house burns down because of the faulty power lines that catch fire. I WILL NOT be stuck in a grid lock with my friends and DIE like the innocent victims in Lahaina did. And that is right, THEY ARE THE VICTIMS. Let’s not forget those that have perished ESPECIALLY as we restore and bring unity to Lahaina just the way God intended it. My Uncle Dwayne Betsill told me this a month ago and it has stuck with me every day since. ALL WE HAVE TO DO IS BE KIND. THAT IS ALL WE HAVE TO DO. The rest will fall into place. This is a LONG road ahead but please be rest assured, at least from my perspective if you care, GOOD IS HAPPENING. PROGRESS IS HAPPENING. And together we can =)

    With Warm Regards –

    Lorrie Betsill Nielson

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    Guest User 2 months ago

    Aloha! This is regarding the “Comprehensive Recovery and Resiliency Plan, West Maui.” Although my husband and I live in upper Haiku and did not get DIRECTLY affected by the wildfires, we have family from Lahaina (in two different homes) who lost everything and are being housed in a hotel/resort. The grandmother has had to relocate to another island and stay with relatives there. And I just found out that another, lesser-known relative lost his business in the fire: a barber shop which had been there for a long time. I would LIKE to trust that the Maui County government officials who are in charge of “fixing the problems” will do a good job at that very thing. However, past history has made MANY local residents be rather WARY, and so I hope that time will show that you LISTENED TO THE PEOPLE… AND ACTED ACCORDINGLY! First priority, after making sure that the land in Lahaina is thoroughly cleaned up and safe, is to allow natural resources (water) to be freely opened up to West Maui — for future fire protection (“greening” the slopes will be a win for the environment!), AND as an additional water source for use by local residents and businesses! Secondly, let the PEOPLE have the majority of the say-so in planning THEIR community! And thirdly, it would be prudent to move all power lines, etc. UNDERGROUND, to prevent a repeat of live wires coming loose and falling down to street level! I KNOW you can do this… We can ALL do it if we work together! Mahalo for reading this!!
    Kristi Jane

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    Guest User 2 months ago

    As a long time resident of Lahaina who was born and raised here and called Lahaina home for my whole life I am hopeful that our local government will do right by our community and our town. Below are the things I feel are most important for Lahaina to move forward and thrive.

    First, I believe the original stream flows need to be restored. People should be able to own the land but NOT the resources. Water should not be private and I urge you all to return the water to Lahaina and the people.

    Second, this tragedy unfortunately just amplified the already absurd housing crisis that this state, island and town have faced for decades. We need rent control, a short term rental BAN and legislation that taxes people who do own here and let their homes sit empty or be used for tourists.
    By banning or creating a moratorium on short term rentals in West Maui you can very quickly help solve the issue of displaced families by forcing landlords to rent long-term to residents or sell to them vs. continuing to line their pockets renting short term to people on vacation.

    Third, I urge you to do MORE thorough testing of the air, ash and water on Lahainaluna where you intend to send kids back in the coming weeks. Although educating our keiki is extremely important their long-term health should supersede that. I keep reading that the air is fine but the ash is dangerous and have seen videos almost weekly since the fire of big ASH dust devils tearing through Lahaina.

    Fourth, push to have peoples mortgage payments delayed during the rebuild and allow people to sell if they'd like but ONLY to other Lahaina residents. I'm not sure how people are supposed to afford rent and to rebuild if they are paying a mortgage on a house that is no longer standing.

    Fifth, I hope moving forward we do everything in our power to develop an emergency plan that DOES work. I personally don't think the events on August 8th were planned but I can confidently say that mistakes were made on all levels and that cannot ever happen again. When there is an emergency the alarms should sound and then there should be a radio station people can tune in to for updates. Especially if phone and internet services are down.

    Sixth, please please please put the power lines underground. Repeating this tragedy would be far more expensive than just doing what should have been done back in 2018. Fire aside people were blocked from escaping because of downed lines all over Lahaina.

    Seventh, require AG lots to actually be AG lots. No more BS mansions w/ a single papaya tree on an acre. AG lots should be for actual ag use that ensure our water is being used for food security and to support this community not to water someones vacation homes massive lawn.

    Eighth, Prioritize affordable homes for SALE in West Maui not for rent. The people here deserve the dignity to own a piece of the place they call home and not compete w/ out of state interests.

    Just as Hawaii is not Hawaii without Hawaiians. Lahaina is not Lahaina without its people do whatever you can to keep us all here and thriving regardless of the size of our checkbooks.

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    Saman Dias 2 months ago

    Please see attached Testimony and supporting documents
    Sep 27, 2023
    Honorable County Council Chair and Council Members,
    I am Saman Dias, and today I stand before you to share my condolences and join in mourning for the devastating losses our community has suffered. While I personally did not lose my home or life, I feel a profound sense of grief as I believe we have lost a part of our family and community.
    In May 2022, I felt a sense of urgency and began reaching out to various authorities, including the Maui Fire Prevention Bureau, Climate Resilience Department, Mayor's office, and the Emergency Management department. My plea was clear - we needed community education, enforcement, and prevention measures to address the looming threat of wildfires.
    Unfortunately, my efforts were met with responses indicating a lack of resources to address these concerns. Despite my persistence, I reached the Mayor's office only to encounter the same refrain - a shortage of resources. My final message to them was a plea: "I am praying we have no fires, and that you will be ready if the fire starts. That time will come. We should be well prepared for that if we are not prepared to do simple prevention."
    Tragically, 15 months later, we find ourselves in the aftermath of a devastating fire that has claimed the Lahaina community, with over 1,800 homes lost and more than 100 lives taken. My message today is clear: our government officials have failed us.
    The excuse of a lack of resources from the county is no longer acceptable. I urge our government to shift its perspective from "lack of resources" to "how can we collaborate, how can we work together to serve our community." I'd like to highlight several key points:
    1. Fire Prevention Plan: We urgently need a comprehensive fire prevention plan, and the community is willing to assist in its execution.
    2. Emergency Evacuation Route: The recent article in Civil Beat reveals the importance of the Cane Haul Rd as an escape route during the fire, emphasizing the need to expedite the development of the West Maui Greenway (WMG). This route is vital for the safety of our residents.
    3. Underground Utilities: The call for underground power line infrastructure in West Maui aligns perfectly with the goals of the WMG project. It can serve as an avenue to implement underground utilities, enhancing safety and infrastructure resilience.
    4. Climate Change Mitigation: The WMG promotes sustainable transportation methods and aligns with Hawaii's goals for reducing carbon emissions and achieving energy independence.
    5. Community Benefits: Beyond safety, the WMG offers improved transportation, recreation, and economic development opportunities.
    6. Opportunity for Transformation: Let us change our perspective and channel our efforts into resourcefulness, seeking innovative solutions and partnerships. We can transform the tragedy of the Lahaina fire into a catalyst for positive change.

    Additional points I'd like to emphasize:
    • Safety of our Children: Schools should practice fire evacuation with children, and we need fire evacuation plans with alternative routes. Idea attached - Lahainaluna- Evacuation route from Hawaii Bike Plan 2003
    • Partnership with Red Cross: Conduct ongoing surveys to better understand the needs of our people and provide support through collaboration with county and state agencies.
    • Employment and Job Training: Proactively consider retraining programs and job placement to support those affected by disasters.
    • Lack of Resources and Funding: The constant excuse of resource scarcity is not acceptable. We should encourage collaboration with the community, including volunteers with professional expertise. There are many grant opportunities that are available. We can help. County has declined.
    In conclusion, it is crucial that we do not allow years to pass before implementing a comprehensive wildfire prevention plan. I propose forming a committee that includes experienced community leaders to expedite this process. We must enforce regulations regarding dead grass, trees, and address fire hazards posed by items such as junk cars and equipment. Furthermore, a community education campaign is essential, and we can draw upon the resources of organizations like Ready for Wildfire and Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization. Lastly, we should prioritize the West Maui Greenway as an alternative evacuation path, leveraging the resources and expertise within our community.
    Thank you for your attention and let us work together to ensure that such a devastating situation never occurs again and that our community becomes a model of resilience, safety, and sustainability.

    West Maui Community Leader and Chair of Maui Bicycling League

    Mahalo Nui Loa!
    Saman Dias
    Chair Maui Bicycling League

    p.s attachments
    letter to Brian Senator Brian Schatz / Gov. Green / Mayor Bissen
    Lahainaluna- Evacuation route from Hawaii Bike Plan 2003
    Emails sent reg fire prevention. And Letter to Governor
    Comprehensive Wildfire Prevention Strategies for Hawaii – letter to Representative Ichiyama and Representative Kila.

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    Guest User 2 months ago

    Testimony for 9/27/23 Lahaina Meeting

    Aloha Kakou,

    Thank you for taking the time to hear community testimony after the Lahaina disaster. We need regulations to help limit outside investors or voices. Most of the residents are working class, please make sure that the wealth does not pollute our rebuilding process. This is a great opportunity for us all to make sure the fires never hit our town again. To be clear: this was not a wildfire, it was a man made fire created by overdevelopment. Man can make this better by planning ahead, give the Hawaiians the water so they can teach us about the 'aina.

    My experience in Maui has led me to teach keiki on all grade levels K - 12 as a paraprofessional and English as Second Language instructor. While living in Napili for the past 25 years, I have worked at three different schools here in West Maui and would like to submit my testimony on behalf of the keiki and teens of West Maui. Given the trauma they have lived, their stability and the local schools need to come first as we rebuild. The youth need a center to gather, more parks and planning of GREEN areas.

    In order to open the schools correctly, we need two access roads so the students are not stranded and trapped in case of fire. This also involves restructuring the roads including the Pali Hwy which is very fragile and falling into the ocean in two spots. Now that our town has burned down, these students need that one road to transport safely to doctors or dentist appointments, or if they need to buy a pair of shoes. West Maui residents have PTSD; please help us manage a safe life while serving our immediate needs. One road guarantees incredible traffic paralyzation. which only indicates a lack of planning. Now is our time to make it right.

    These children have priority over any "development" or tourism. Lahaina has been "pimped out' for too long, now (for the next 6-12 months) the rest of the state can absorb visitors. Give our children roads, safe water, and shade so they can enjoy agriculture and a self sufficient economy. Manage the land with crops & ulu trees. Vacant land will just be another fire threat.

    Ann Franzenburg

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    Nani Bee 2 months ago

    I support Lahaina community in what they want building back their community & town. I also would like to see this city council unanimously vote on a moratorium regarding rent and mortgage payments. There should be no struggle to get 5 votes to protect the people, that should be a unanimous decision! incentivizing homeowners to rent out units at above premium rate for government reimbursement is only going to hurt this community and drive up the cost of living. They need a moratorium to help them figure out how to get through at least a year +. I also understand the dependance of tourism, but to open on the anniversary date of the most horrific tragedy seems so insensitive and can only spark more mental health issues from a community that is trying their best to recover! My heart is with you Lahaina and all that you continue to go through. I can only pray this council votes unanimously on addenda items that will protect you and help you to find some sense of peace as you recover.

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    Guest User 2 months ago

    Good afternoon,

    First I’d like to offer my sincere condolences to any of you who have lost anyone in the fires. I can’t imagine how painful it is to look at Lahaina every day and see total devastation. My heart is with all of you.

    I don’t live in Maui but have been traveling to your beautiful island for the past 28 years. The scenery speaks for itself but part of what my family loves about Maui are all the friendly, fixed cats that visit us at our hotels and condos. We were still planning our visit in November because we wanted to support local businesses in their time of need but are beginning to have second thoughts.

    We’d been hearing stories about the beloved friendly island cats being rescued by the wonderful “caretakers” who care for them. We often get to meet some of them during our visits. These people are like celebrities to us!

    What is troubling however are the many reports we’re hearing stateside that the same cats we thought were safe (and presumably other animals) are not being rescued the way we had hoped. I’m not sure if you’re aware but we’ve heard reports that your humane society was catching cats in live traps, but if the cat seemed wild, it was to be released right back into the burned out areas, without access to food or water, where it will surely die. And apparently there are as many as 500-700 cats still in there. My husband is a retired fire chief and has told me the horror stories of what those cats are facing. Asbestos poisoning, exposure to toxic chemicals, dehydration, starvation and respiratory failure.

    How is it that this is allowed to happen? Why hasn’t there been more done to help care for these animals? The place that I called my second home for nearly three decades has failed at caring for the cats of Maui. Feral or not, every animal’s life should at least merit respect and good faith efforts to be saved. Until I hear that the humane society is making every effort possible to save as many animals trapped inside the burned down areas, my family can’t in good conscience ever call Maui our second home again. Please remedy this.

    Thank you for your time,

    Anne Rice
    NY, NY

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    Amanda Kuhns 2 months ago


    I attended the meeting for a few hours today but had to leave. I can’t help but echo what was passionately delivered by the rightful stewards of Lahaina.

    I would only add that local businesses serving local communities need rent assistance to avoid losing our spaces- or legislature that assists what is conscionable during this time. So far there are no actual 10k grants and our big landlords aren’t giving us help. It is in their financial interest to evict some of us based on truly one sided contracts as is. With the level of unemployment and underemployment and the good hearts of the some of the good businesses giving back or paying it forward- making rent, cam and bills seems close to impossible.

    I would add that grants for Kānaka and generational non-white business owners should be in place for the future/present. As Haole- I know this is a key for the rightful stewards to remain in their land. Opening a business here is almost exclusively for transplants or non-residents because the costs are astronomical- truthfully they are nonsensical. If real locals don’t run the small businesses here- we lose more of the cherished mom and pops and needed influence in the business community. That meeting at the Ritz is a good example of what happens when there is a lack of representation in the business sector. The opinions lean towards those that are only affected in one way by the tragedy. That’s not fair.

    I am opening a business in Napili Plaza and I know it may not survive this. I also know that the needs of the people are the most important. All businesses are not created equal and residency alone in Lahaina or Hawaii is not indicative of Aloha.

    If any business or government entity or organization is not taking into consideration the voice of Kānaka Maoli; I don’t think their voice should carry much weight at all.

    In addition- I live in an apartment complex in Napili with open units… Lahaina families should be placed here so they can stay in this side. Of course it is excruciatingly overpriced. The complex is an out of state owner- the government can and should do something to put the people over the businesses. We all deserve real neighborhoods with people that truly care about the land and each other. Tourism can’t come back in good conscience until the most has been made of what we already have on this side too. That’s the minimum.

    Mahalo for your time
    Mahalo for all who spoke today
    May Lahaina and Maui continue to set an example for the world on what is possible when a different path is chosen. Our future ancestors deserve better.

    *People/and the planet over profit is the right path.

    *Return the water.
    *Invest in solar or burying lines or both.
    *Invest in public education, public libraries and public parks that allow enjoyment of life without cash.
    *Make sure King Kam 3 gets to come back to Lahaina town despite the new temporary location.
    *Invest in Kānaka Maoli business grants and homes/communities for Kupuna that would also create jobs.
    *ordinances to protect current on island business owners from eviction
    *Divest from outsider owned housing, businesses and perspectives.
    *Divest from AirBNB.
    *Build affordable housing yes but also make the housing that is here affordable and the access to be generational based if need be. I shouldn’t have easier time getting benefits for example than Kānaka that been here or was even recently displaced.
    *divest from random philanthropists buying their names on future Lahaina

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    Guest User 2 months ago

    To: Chair and Committee Members

    Subject: Public Testimony Regarding A Comprehensive Recovery and Resiliency Plan for West Maui

    Aloha County Council,

    I am a Native Hawaiian resident of Ha'iku with 'ohana affected by Lahaina wildfires. I stand in support of amplifying the voices of our Lahaina lahui. Amidst the many items to be addressed, I write to urge you to prioritize putting the immediate and longterm needs of our Lahaina community and environmental restoration before corporate interest and those interested in the privatization of our natural resources. Following protocol for immediate environmental remediation, it is critical to activate a plan of action for responsible wetland restoration/watershed management and restore culturally significant sites including Moku'ula and surrounding ahupua'a in cohesion with rebuilding infrastructure to meet Lahaina community needs. Doing so will provide both longterm stability for residents and healing for our Native Hawaiian population in perpetuity. We are living in a time of radical accountability and in the wake of unfathomable tragedy are now presented with an opportunity to make pono. I urge you to please assist in a vision to prioritize the wellness of our Lahaina population and beloved 'aina.

    Anna Tanodra

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    Guest User 2 months ago

    I am submitting testimony. 
-Restore water flow to west Maui and other residential fire prone areas now. 
-Put tourism hubs such as the airport and resort areas on (at the very least) cosmetic water restriction. 
- Prioritize the needs and living conditions of the residents over the visitors. 
- create emergency economic aid/relief for every household and business on Maui 
- provide snap benefits for every primary residential household on Maui. 
- remove bureaucratic and arduous process to provide access to aid.
    -prioritize and create more business opportunities for local entrepreneurs to support a more circular economy
    -create infrastructure for food independence
    -stop allowing tourism and gentlemen real estate to be prioritized over our natural resources

    Darnell Andrade