VIDEO: Chris Hart Mayoral Candidate Profile, Decision 2010 MauiNOW.com
Chris Hart, 2010 candidate for Maui Mayor, Transcript:
Introduction: My name is Chris Hart and I am running for the office of Mayor of Maui County. I came to Hawaii as part of the United States Army. I was stationed at Schofield Barracks, and after our brigade built up, I was deployed to Vietnam. And I came back to Hawaii because I found that I really enjoyed it–I loved it. In 1969, in August, 41 years ago, I moved to Maui. I have a degree in landscape architecture, I am a licensed landscape architect and a member of the American Society of Landscape Architects. I went to work for the Maui County Planning Department. I worked my way up over a period of over 20 years. I
started my own practice, and I started with a drafting table rented from an architect friend, and I built the business up to 13 employees and we own our own building. There are really important issues in Maui County. We are at a cross-roads and I see that we are drifting. It’s time for a person like me with an educational background and work experience to tackle some of these issues. The economy is one–to revitalize the economy and create more jobs, the second important issue is to make government more friendly and responsive with aloha–and to basically control the size of government, and in addition to increase our infrastructure–especially in regards to issues left undone like the Upcountry water meter issue.
Development: What are your thoughts on smart growth and what will you do to prevent urban sprawl?
Answer: Smart growth is a term that’s been coined by the American Planning Association and also by the Urban Land Institute to describe a traditional character of towns that are very efficient and are pedestrian oreiented, with a sense of place. Maui is blessed with many smart growth towns to name a few: Paia, Makawao, Wailuku, Lahaina, Kaunakakai, and Lanai City. These are all walking communities that were designed for pedestrians. The instrument that is going to be most important in perpetuating the character of Maui as a rural community of small towns is the Island Plan. It directs growth to areas that area identified as urban growth boundaries. There will be growth over the next 20 years through the year 2030, however there is an interest in the part of individuals who have purchased land as plantations have closed down. These individuals want to see growth occur in the agricultural lands that they have invested in. This would be urban sprawl, and it would blur the identity of the tight country towns that we have. That would really end up being something simlar to Oahu, and that’s something to be avoided. But, the island plan, if adopted, it would be implemented by me, and it would preserve the character of Maui for future generations.
Permitting: What are your thoughts on the county’s permitting process for B&Bs? Should the approval for B&B’s rest in the hands of council members or the mayor’s appointed planning director?
Answer: I give a lot of credit to this administration and to Gladys Baisa specifically, and her Land Use Committee on the part of the County Council to actually adopt a bed and breakfast ordinance that is a workable and acceptable process for establishing B&Bs on Maui. There is obviously an opportunity for individuals to apply. They have to advertise fully. In addition, the number of rooms determines weather or not the approval is by the planning department or by the county council. I believe that because the council has spent a lot of time on the ordianance that they should enable the Planning Department and the Planning Commission to basically approve all bed and breakfast (operations). I think that we need an efficient process, and it would just be too cumbersome and time consuming for the council to have to consider larger B&Bs.
Fireworks Ban: Are you in support of or against it?
Answer: I am in favor of a partial ban. The important aspects of Maui are the grace and beauty of nature and the cultural diversity of our community. We have a multi-ethnic community and there are several cultures that really have a desire to celebrate New Years. New Years is during a period of time between November and April, which is the wettest time of the year on Maui. I believe that fireworks, with the controll that we have right now could be allowed during the New Years season. However, I do agree that in the context of July or July 4th which is during the driest time of the year, I believe that there should be a ban on fireworks at that time–or any of the dry months during the year. It means that we would not fully ban fireworks, but that they could be allowed in the context of professionals who have a business of actually doing aerial fireworks displays.
Transient accommodations tax: If elected to serve, what would you do to ensure that Maui keeps its share of the Transient Accommodations Tax?
Answer: Currently the state law establishes that the Transient Accomodations Taxes collected by the state–Maui basically has 50% of the number of visitor accomodations/units as Oahu. We have on any given day 45,000 vitsitors on Maui. We provide infrastructure–the roads, the sewers, the water, the fire protection, and police protection for those visitor industry facilities here on Maui, and for the visitors that visit Maui. Therefore, we’re entitiled to that money by law. I would work dilligently with our legislators, our representatives, our senate. I would also work with the other mayors of the other three counties to ensure that on every year that the issue comes up that Maui County would get its fair share of the Transient Accomodations Tax.
Water: What are your plans to improve wastewater treatment on Maui and your thoughts about injection wells?
Answer: Primarily the issue is the injection wells. I think that in general the wastewater treatment plants operate adequately. My feeling is that we have to really look at Kihei as an example. Kihei is located in an arid region. Currently, the wastewater treatment plant provides irrigation water for the Elleair Golf course. We have to provide a mechanism to store and to distribute the water for irrigation–it could be for beautification in the context of the resort destination areas (in Wailea it could be golf courses), but there has to be a public-private partnership. There’s no need for us to be using all of that potable water for irrigation purposes. I believe in West Maui there needs to be a system of storage and distribution; for Kaanapali Resort, and for Lahaina, and also in Kahului there needs to be a storage and distribution system for that plant. One important issue about Kahului is: you know it is located in the tsunami innundation zone. It has been, according to my understanding, tsunami proofed. The plant is designed to accomodate/or process nine million gallons of wastewater per day. Currently it processes six million gallons. So there’s a three million gallon opportunity for growth. So I believe obviously in terms of costs that the piece of infrastructure is going to be in Kahului for a long time.
Closing thoughts: I am the person in the center. I am the intentional states-person. I have the educational background. I have 41 years of my life being spent in this community–working in government and in business. I have four sons born here–two grandsons born here. And I see Maui at a cross-roads and we’re drifting. There are issues beyond the ceremonial or custodial role of being mayor–of just attending ribbon cutting ceremonies, making speaches, making sure the budget is done, maintaining services. There’s big issues out there. There’s our agricultural economy that needs to re-establish and re-develop as a diversified agricultural economy. There’s the water issue upcountry, and we need it more for agriculture than really what we needed it for in terms of solving the issue of the water meter. I want to basically implement the Island Plan and I want to essentially set a direction for Maui’s future that will be vital and vibrant for my children and my grandchildren, and for your children, and for your grandchildren. That’s why I’m running and I would request your vote on Sept. 18. And remember Chris Hart, you gotta have heart, cause it’s the right thing to do.