Maui Planning Director Aoki to retire, focus on family after losing home in Lahaina fire
Mayor Richard Bissen today announced the retirement of Planning Director Kathleen Ross Aoki, as she wishes to focus on her family after losing her Lahaina home in the Aug. 8 fire. Her retirement is effective Dec. 31, 2023.
“Kathleen has supported our community for more than 30 years and we are truly grateful for her dedication to public service. Her leadership during our inaugural year has been an important one, especially as we navigate the impacts of the disaster. We wish Kathleen and her family well and offer our prayers and support. As survivors of the August wildfire in Lahaina, they have much to focus on,” said Mayor Bissen in a news release announcement.
Deputy Director Garrett Smith will serve as Acting Director beginning Dec. 31, 2023.
“We have a tremendous and critical job ahead of us and are hopeful that we will be able to appoint a Planning Director who will be inspired by the opportunity to help the future of Maui as we recover from the devastation,” said Mayor Bissen.
Aoki is a 21-year veteran of the County of Maui, where she primarily served in the Planning Department and worked in nearly every division and held previous director and deputy director posts.
Before being appointed as the planning director at the start of the Bissen administration in 2023, she was the Plan Implementation Division chief. In 2018, Aoki was named the County of Maui’s Manager of the Year for her commitment to collaboration, effective decision-making and dedication to finding inclusive solutions. Aoki spent nearly 10 years working for the State of Hawaiʻi prior to coming to the County of Maui in 2002.
Aoki, who grew up on Hawai’i island, received her bachelor’s degree from University of Hawai’i.
The Planning Department is responsible for updating the county General Plan, which is used to guide the development of the county, the administration and enforcement of long-range planning programs and cultural resource management, and the administration and enforcement of zoning ordinances, zoning maps and regulations.
There are three Planning commissions, along with three advisory committees to the Maui Planning Commission. The department also supports the Cultural Resources Commission, Urban Design Review Board and Board of Variances and Appeals.