Letters: Upcountry water woes, tourism, housing plan, loud motorcycles and more
Maui County should prioritize solving Upcountry water issues over new cultural center
Wow, [Maui County budgeted] $43 million for an unnecessary cultural center while upcountry residents have to conserve water annually because the county does not have enough water-holding infrastructure. Good choice. I’ll be sure not to take a shower on my way down to visit the cultural center. — Paul Fasi, Kula
Where did money for Upcountry water problem go?
For the third year in a row Upcountry residents are on stage 1 water restrictions in anticipation of increased demand. Increased demand also comes from the hundreds of new meters issued over the last three years.
The Upcountry system is primarily a surface flow catchment system, and such systems are at the whims of the rainfall patterns. Obviously, it would be prudent to factor in a backup system for times of low rainfall; like wells that tap water stored in the aquifer. Wells are expensive, in the tens of millions of dollars but residents have already been charged for this expense.
For at least 35 years the water department has been raising rates to pay for “repair and maintenance” and to “find and develop new water sources”. Thus far, zero new sources. So what did they do with the money? How about using money provided by the President’s infrastructure bill; developing water sources sounds like infrastructure to me. And it’s a one time expense.
Wells in East Maui could use the ditch system to transfer water to the current treatment plants, minimizing the need for an extensive pipe system. Could even use small wind generators to power the pumps.
A local news station interviewed Maui’s water director who said we are “actively pursuing new sources of water.” Yeah, right. — Ron Pisciotto, Kula
Questions about how kids will safely cross highway to new Kīhei High School
At local focus group meetings led by G70, we learned it will take [up to] six years before “alternative grade” crossings are available at Kīhei High School. Meanwhile, grade level crossings will have to be used. This YouTube circulated by DOT really points out the challenges of a roundabout at the high school entrance. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=wSlCAB_u2pM
Questions for all crossings: How do kids from Maui Meadows, and the North Kihei and other mauka neighborhoods, get to school? Do they have to cross Piʻilani [Highway] twice since there are no sidewalks to the school on the mauka side of highway.
Could the county work with [the Department of Education] to allow county busses on campus to drop off and pick up students?
Could the DOE, [Department of Transportation],[state Land Use Commission] and county work with adjacent ranches to put a north-south bike walking path to mid point on campus?
Inquiring minds want to know. ”What were ‘they’ thinking?” — Donna Howard, Kīhei
Editors note: To read Maui Nowʻs latest story on this issue, click here.
Three reasons why over-tourism is a big problem on Maui
Over-tourism is a real problem for every Maui resident. Three points:
- Our waste water infrastructure is so utterly out of date that untreated raw wastewater being pumped underground (injection wells) is systematically killing our reefs and sea life. Tourists don’t care.
- Our popular beaches are being overrun by hoards of tourists who think this island is theirs for the trashing. Leave it better than you found it! Tourists don’t care.
- The cost of rents have skyrocketed and it is impossible for most local folks to afford living here on an average salary of $20 per hour. Tourists don’t care. — Marco Martella, Kīhei
Tourist says wonʻt return to Maui due to overdevelopment
In our recent trip to Maui, I was baffled by the growth and lack of protection for the open space that existed when I first came here over 40 years ago. Us haoles might be responsible for this but I feel a lack of planning or the mere fact that money prevailed and has ruined the culture and the land.
After 5 years I returned to find a bypass road around Lahaina, with a ridiculous amount of building on the north side. How did this happen? Lack of planning or greed by the developers whom might have never visited the islands. I will not ever return as I don’t want to add to this nightmare for the locals. I feel for you all on Maui and hope this growth does not spread to the Big Island or Kauaʻi. Elect the right representatives. — Ron Marks, Los Angeles, CA
More ideas about how to curb too many tourists
I applaud the City Council suspending new lodging for two years to give time to decide how to manage tourism. That being said, what about increasing fines and enforcement on illegal rentals, eliminate Turo as a vehicle rental source, tax Uber/Lyft and add an ecological airport fee of $150 per incoming flight other than inter-island flights.
This will substantially increase the travel cost to visit Maui for both visitors and returning Hawaiians, but as was said, Maui is just too beautiful and that is being recognized globally. — Rap Piantanida, Lahaina
New federal deal on climate change and energy is big step forward
The welcome news that Senators [Chuck] Schumer and [Joe] Manchin agreed to a deal that would include climate and energy investments totaling $369 billion in a reconciliation bill is a huge step forward.
[The Inflation Reduction Act] will make substantial progress in lowering the heat-trapping emissions that cause climate change. Estimates are that this legislation will achieve 40% emissions reductions by 2030, below the 50% by 2030 target pledged by President Biden.
There is still work to be done. Still, thankfully Senators Manchin and Schumer didn’t give up. All candidates running for Congress in this election should know that climate change is a priority. Voting is crucial. — Bobbie Best, Wailuku
Why canʻt the Maui police enforce noise limits on motorcycles?
I have spoken to police officers and they say that they have no way to measure the decibels of a motor vehicle’s exhaust.
I realize there are a lot of life and death issues that police deal with daily and this is not a top priority. [But] large numbers of tourists and residents choose Maui to get away and enjoy peace and tranquility. When motorcycles are racing up and down Piʻilani highway emitting sound that rivals that of a jet engine it is very difficult to achieve that goal.
What will it take to get the police to enforce the law as written on this matter? — Mark Susskind, Kīhei
Progress during first year of Maui County Comprehensive Housing Plan
July 19, 2022 marked the one-year anniversary of the Maui County Comprehensive Housing Plan (MCCAHP), which was developed by Hawaiian Community Assets under a $300,000 contract with the County of Maui.
MCCAHP called for the development of 5,000 affordable homes – rent or for purchase – in the next five years and was presented to the Maui County Council on July 19, 2021. On June 29, 2022, Stand Up Maui sent an email to the Maui County Council and the County Administration requesting an update of their actions to implement this much needed housing plan. We have
received a response from Council Chair Alice Lee and here is a summary of that response:
- Two Ordinances – 5315 and 5369 and Resolution 21-182 were passed by the Council. These ordinances and resolution gave local residents preference to affordable housing projects – rental and for purchase, created a county operated master list of residents
for this housing, expanded the purposes that the Affordable Housing Fund could be used for and resolved that all Maui County residents have a right to housing.
- Two workforce housing projects – Hokuao on Lanai and Hale Pilina in Kahului – were approved with 254 affordable housing units.
- Thirteen Maui County Council meetings were held on the MCCAHP. As of this date, no response has been received from the County Administration.
Stand Up Maui will continue to work with all government agencies, nonprofits, and the people of Maui County to get homes built to rent or for purchase at incomes that our local people earn. We call on all political candidates to pledge to implement the priorities and strategies
recommended by the MCCAHP.
For additional information about MCCAHP and Stand Up Maui, visit mauihousingplan.org/standupmaui.org. — Stan Franco, President, Stand Up Maui
Elections. It is all about money and unions. Period. The unions tell the membership who to vote for. The union gives to the candidate who is on their payroll funding for the campaign. The union members who are working 50-60 hours plus per week do not want to research the candidates. So, they listen to the union and vote for the union candidate, as paid and bought by the union. This has been happening in the state and county government for the last 60 plus years. Wake up citizens and research the candidate. — Buff Weaver, Lahaina
Kīhei boat ramp needs regular maintenance
The Kihei boat ramp was refurbished a few years ago with a nice area for washing off boats added and the parking lot redone. But since then, nothing has been done to maintain it.
There are high weeds and trash all around. The drain that is supposed to carry off the water from the boat washings has been clogged for at least a year. Now, the path from the boat ramp towards Surfside is inundated with black, brackish, unhealthy water and is impassible.
DLNR has received complaints for many months and done nothing about it. There should be a regular maintenance schedule for maintaining this one-of-a-kind area where tourists come to board boats to snorkel at Molokini.
Shame on you, County of Maui and state of Hawaiʻi for this disgrace. — Scott Lowry
New 988 number connects people in crisis to trained mental health professionals
Hawaii is facing a significant mental health crisis—and it requires an equally significant response. Too many people experiencing a mental health, substance use or suicidal crisis end up in emergency rooms or jails instead of getting the care they need.
In 2020, bipartisan federal action created 988, a new three-digit number to help quickly connect people experiencing a crisis to trained mental health professionals, and ideally, local crisis services when appropriate.
It is now available nationwide for people to call or text during a mental health, substance use or suicide crisis. This is a tremendous step toward providing life-saving support that will
help countless people. While the new number is now live, efforts to build the system’s local capacity in our state to help everyone in crisis will continue in the weeks, months and years to come.
Hawaii still needs to create and fund the additional services needed to effectively respond to people in crisis who call or text 988. As a mental health advocate with NAMI Maui, I urge us all—especially our policymakers—to learn more about the 988 and how Hawaii can continue to build a full system equipped to help every person experiencing a mental health crisis and their loved ones. NAMI.org/988 is a great place to get started.
For too long, the way we respond to mental health crises ended in trauma and tragedy. We have a chance to do something different. 988 is a valuable, life-saving tool, but we need an ongoing effort to provide everyone with a mental health response to a mental health crisis. The work is only beginning. — Joan Musselman, Kīhei
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