Maui Discussion

Ask the Mayor: Are There Regulations Regarding ‘Town Character?’

January 24, 2016, 12:00 PM HST
* Updated January 24, 7:58 AM
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paia new building july 2015 DL

Baldwin Avenue building under construction in Pā‘ia, July 2015. Photo: Debra Lordan.

Mayor Alan Arakawa answers some of the most-asked questions submitted to his office staff.

Aloha Mayor,

Q: Who is responsible for approving permits for new buildings in Historic Pā‘ia Town? And what, if any, are the parameters for new construction in Pā‘ia Town?

The two new buildings do not fit the character of the town. The buildings are monstrous in size, bland in color and squeeze pedestrians onto narrower sidewalks (can a wheelchair pass?). One building has windows that open outward onto the already congested sidewalks. The other has roll-down security bars that belong in inner-city Los Angeles, not in Pā‘ia. Neither has any landscaping to make us feel like we are on Maui; just concrete and drab stucco.

Are there any regulations concerning preserving the historic character of Pā‘ia? And shouldn’t new business buildings be required to provide parking for their customers? Thank you.


A: New buildings or renovations in Pā‘ia, like our other small towns (Makawao, Lahaina, Waiakoa, etc.), have to follow adopted “Country Town Design Guidelines” if the property is zoned B-CT Country Town Business District.


They are also reviewed by the county’s Urban Design Review Board, which consists of architects, engineers, landscape architects and individuals with experience in “urban planning, fine arts, beautification, conservation or historic preservation,” as required in Maui County Code 2.26.030.B.

Parking and other requirements are also administered during the building permit process. These are administered through the Planning Department, which has a small town planner on staff to ensure that the guidelines are followed.

The new buildings in Pā‘ia meet these requirements. One of the buildings was approved more than 10 years ago, before the small town planner position was created; the other building was approved more recently.


They might stand out now because they are new and unoccupied, while their neighbors are typically older, have merchandise or information in their windows that make the buildings lively and colorful, and have developed character over time.

Want to Ask the Mayor?

Submit your questions about County of Maui programs, services, operations or policies to Mayor Alan Arakawa via email, by phone at 270-7855 or by mail to 200 S. High St., 9th Floor, Wailuku, HI 96793. Questions submitted will be considered for inclusion in the Ask the Mayor column.


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