VIDEO: Alan Arakawa, Mayoral Candidate Profile, Decision 2010 MauiNOW.com
Alan Arakawa, 2010 candidate for Maui Mayor, Transcript:
Introduction: Thank you very much for this opportunity. I’m Alan Arakawa. I’m the former Mayor of Maui County and also a former council member. What I’m looking at is trying to create a more stable economy and a higher quality of life for our community. I believe that because the current administration has gone after a lot of our businesses and has not stimulated the economy properly, and over-taxed and raised the fees on our community, it has created a real problem.
At the same time, when people are struggling, she’s cut back on a lot of the social service programs, and I plan to bring those back and stimulate the economy by working for businesses, not against businesses. We must really start cutting back on the kind of over-use of county officials to create a bureaucracy rather than common sense applications of rules to create a better economy.
Development: What are your thoughts on smart growth and what will you do to prevent urban sprawl? Answer: Smart growth really requires a good plan. And the General Plan is a good start, but it needs to be refined quite a bit. We also need to be able to put in all of the infrastructure requirements. With out those infrastructure requirements and the timing and the funding, you’re not going to be able to create the plan that you’re working with. For instance, there is no time table on water, or water development. I will develop that time table on water and water development. There is no real structure as to how you’re going to budget it. We will create, as I did before, working with all of the various departments, very strong programs looking at future developments–where we need to create our fire stations, where we need to create our police stations, and all of the other kinds of facilities that we need. Then, plan the timing for it and funding for it. It’s very critical, if we’re going to be limiting growth to where we want it, to be able to then establish all of the needs that we have and provide for those needs. Now, we also need to be very cognizant of the fact that there are a lot of changing programs that we want to work with. For instance, we now want walkable communities. If we’re going to have walkable communities, we really need to be able to work with changing out the laws and the rules that are in zoning right now that prohibit a lot of these walkable communities from being created. And also, we must be very cognizant of the fact that money is very, very difficult to come by. And when we charge too much, or make the rules and regulations too onerous to try to create, we actually prevent the ability for the community to be able to accomplish the goals that we want them to accomplish. So, we’ve got to be working on practical solutions to making our goals and our needs coincide with our ability to do it.
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 actually think that the Council needs to complete out the laws for the vacation rentals and B&Bs–both being very different–and home occupation, while they’re working on it. Once these laws are established, I believe that then, having the staff–which is the director and their staff–being able to administer the rules and regulations, would be perfectly workable. Until the rules are established, however, just arbitrarily asking the directors to figure out what is desirable and not desirable, I think, is not a good idea. It should actually be left in the hands of the Council. Getting back to the original point, the Council needs to very clearly work on the rules and regulations that the community will be comfortable with. That’s the first step.
Fireworks Ban: Are you in support of or against it? Answer: I actually think that the time has come in our community where we need to regulate where we’re going to do fireworks, and how we’re going to be applying fireworks. General fireworks all over the community I think is very, very dangerous. Perhaps we should designate areas where we want people to be allowed to use fireworks–maybe at the War Memorial parking lot, or some other area like that. We actually have the fire officials there to be able to control any potential fires, and also police officers there to make sure that we’re doing things safely. By working together, I think we can have both worlds: a very safe and happy celebration, while at the same time, it is safe and controlled.
Transient accommodations tax: If elected to serve, what would you do to ensure that Maui keeps its share of the Transient Accommodations Tax? Answer: Understand that the Transient Accommodations Tax only became a major issue because of the economic downturn in the county which was so severe. And that the administration’s lack of focus on creating a better economy created an even bigger downturn than we needed to. When they went after a lot of the businesses and started closing down small businesses, they didn’t help the construction industry. Instead, they hindered it by putting up more and more rules and regulations and making the permit process a lot longer. The dependency on the Transient Accommodations Tax became even greater and more severe. I believe that if we could develop the economy of the County to the level that it should be, then we can work with the state to try and balance out how much we need from the Transient Accommodations Tax. That shouldn’t be something that is cut in granite, that’s actually something that we should be able to balance with our entire economy and the state’s needs as well.
Water: What are your plans to improve waste water treatment on Maui and your thoughts about injection wells? Answer: This question is almost ready made for me. You know, I started my political career with a gentleman named Bill Carroll, protesting against the absolute waste of water going into injection wells, and the deteriorating quality of how we were treating our waste water. The name of the division is reclamation, and waste water reclamation is what we should be doing. I believe that 100% of all the water should be reused; and everything that we’re doing right now is more an excuse of how not to do the job that government is intended to do. Rather trying to figure out ways to try to delay the inevitable. We are, and need to treat all of the water resources tenderly and with conscious thought. Waste water is something that we really need to spend the time and energy, and the funding for to utilize, especially when we are saying we’re so short of water. It’s not that expensive to do. There’s a definite way to do it. In Kahului for instance the old Maui Pine recycle line that goes from the Maui Pine cannery, all the way out to the isthmus, could be acquired and used to bring reused water to the Central Maui area and recharge our aquifers.
Closing thoughts: I believe Maui County is at a very critical time. We’re making some very major decisions. We’re having to deal with the baby boom generation and some cutting back on the Social Security programs, is going exactly opposite from where our community needs to go. When we’re looking for economic development and growth, we should not be shutting down our small businesses and making it much more difficult and more expensive for businesses to survive. We should be developing our resources and our planning process, and making complete plans rather than coming through with incomplete plans. I really believe that we need a leader in the mayor’s office that understands how the departments work, how the state works, how the federal government works, and how the individuals within our community, and our organizations depend on the government system and how we interact. I’ve been in the position before as council member and mayor. I believe that I bring the qualities needed to be able to kick start our government and our economy immediately. And I ask for your support. Thank you.