Next phase of major Wailea development with 1,000-plus homes gets green light

A portion of the Honua’ula project is seen. PC: Courtesy

After a marathon contested case, Maui Planning Commission today gave a green light to the next phase of long-debated Honuaʻula, a master planned community with more than 1,000 homes slated for 670 acres in Wailea.

The commission voted 7-0 to approve Honuaʻula’s District Phase II Development, located adjacent to Maui Meadows and Wailea Resort. The project still needs multiple administrative approvals and permits before breaking ground.

Honuaʻula would include 515 single-family residential units, 346 multifamily residential units and 288 workforce housing units, along with 24 acres of village mixed use and 103 acres of recreation and open space. A quarter of the total project area would be dedicated to permanent preservation. Also, Pi’ilani Highway will be widened from two to four lanes from Maui Meadows Mapu Place / Kilohana.

Two groups, Maui Tomorrow Foundation and Hoʻoponopono O Mākena, have been challenging the project, alleging it has too few affordable homes and too many negative cultural and environmental impacts.

“Intervenors Hoʻoponopono O Mākena and Maui Tomorrow Foundation requested that the project application be sent back to the drawing board, due to its failure to meet affordable housing and other mandatory requirements, including cultural sites that won’t be preserved, and faulty drainage plans,” Albert Perez, Maui Tomorrow Foundation executive director, said in an afternoon statement following the vote. “As an alternative, we asked that the commission use its power to modify the project to include the required 450 affordable units, but were ignored.”

Perez said the groups are weighing options before deciding whether to appeal.

In a decision that caps a seven-month contested case, Maui Planning commissioners said Honuaʻula’s benefits outweigh the costs, developers listened to the community over the years and county laws have been followed.

Plus, the workforce housing component is sorely needed, commissioner Kellie Pali said.

“The benefits is an affordable housing piece,” she said. “I can’t express how much times I hear people say they need affordable housing. . . . We see those same groups come up in front of us and they’re saying, ‘No, not here; not there; too small; too big; that’s too far away; that’s too close; density.’ And I’m really just shocked because the same people at large in social media are screaming, ‘We need affordable housing,’ but they’re coming here and they’re giving us reasons why they can’t (support it).”

Commissioner Kimberly Thayer said she was in middle school when the project was first proposed. At the time, developers were looking to “maximize the take from this piece of land.” As years passed, they began to listen to the community.

“Over years and years and years of community input and studies and plans and deliberations,  we have come to this today, which has fewer units overall, it has more preservation area, I think has a lot of good planning principles for mixed use, and making it walkable, and incorporating community facilities, everything you quote unquote want to see in a devotement,” she said. “And I think this has that.”

Originally pitched in the ’90s, the project was formerly called Wailea 670.

The volunteer commission heard hours of testimony, cross-examination and objections. In the end, members acknowledged they do the best they can.

“It was a hard way because we do listen to what the community says, and we do read everything, and we do make decisions, hard decisions, and we do not get paid for this, so this is coming from our hearts and our concern for our community and everyone involved,” said commission chairperson P. Denise La Costa.

During a February meeting on Honuaʻula, public testimony was mixed. Supporters called it a balance of preservation and housing. Opponents countered that the workforce units are negligible and said the project will have negative environmental and cultural impacts.

La Costa during Tuesday’s meeting thanked everyone who was involved, adding that the case was “very arduous” and “informative.”

“It was a learning experience and one probably that none of us want to do again,” she said. 

* This story has been updated from its original version to include reaction on the vote from the intervenors.

Honuaʻula would develop residential homes, village mixed uses and preserve land in perpetuity on 670 acres in Wailea. Two groups are questioning some of the projectʻs conditions. PC: Screenshot of Munekiyo & Hiraga slideshow
Wailea 670 area. File photo by Wendy Osher.

Original source: https://mauinow.com/2022/09/27/next-phase-of-major-wailea-development-with-1000-plus-homes-gets-green-light/

Maui council a step closer to buying Lahaina apartments in bid to save workforce housing

Lahaina Crossroads. PC: Kehaulani Cerizo

Lahaina Crossroads renters Etina Hingano and her husband work three jobs to make ends meet. 

After hearing that her apartment building may be purchased by the county to stay in workforce housing, Hingano breathed a sigh of relief. Lahaina Crossroads tenants faced eviction earlier this year after the property changed hands.

“Oh wow,” she told Maui Now on Tuesday. “My reaction is really good because then it’s going to stay for the people of Lahaina.”

“My other reaction is like, OK, now what? Do I have to leave and come back? Do we reapply?” asked Hingano, who has lived in the apartments for seven years.

Maui County Council voted unanimously Tuesday to approve on first reading a budget amendment that would allocate up to $11 million of the county’s Affordable Housing Fund for the purchase of 20-unit Lahaina Crossroads. The bill now heads to second and final reading. 

Introduced by Council Member Tamara Paltin and supported by Mayor Michael Victorino, the bill would preserve the building as workforce housing in Lahaina, where affordable inventory is among the most lacking on Maui. 

Paltin and Victorino, who have negotiated with the new owner, said the owner’s intent was to covert the apartments to hotel use, which is allowed by the district.

When questioned by Council Member Yuki Lei Sugimura about whether the owner will profit $4 million from the sale, Paltin said she’d rather the county acquire the property than see it turn into another hotel operated by offshore investors.

“If this falls through, there’s no doubt off-island interests will be paying way more for it than 11 million dollars and that it will be a hotel — there’s no doubt in my mind,” she said.
“Let this be a lesson to all of us that we need to be more proactive and get these types of properties before speculators do and preserve our housing inventory.”

“This is a hard lesson to learn, it’s an expensive lesson, but we can’t allow it to continue to happen because we are already struggling and it will get much worse,” she added.

County property tax records show that the building was purchased for $7 million in April. Previous owners had purchased it for $4 million in 2016. 

Paltin said the sales price is not final, it can’t exceed $11 million and a property assessment needs to be done. She encouraged the council to move expeditiously because there is a willing seller and renters are living in unstable housing conditions.  

Council Members Kelly Takaya King and Mike Molina during the meeting pointed to Māʻalaea Mauka as an example of what happens when the county drags its feet.

The state and the county had set aside money to buy the land and keep it in open space, but the owner grew tired of waiting and sold it to a private developer. Now, the council is considering eminent domain for the land.

“We should focus on keeping people in affordable housing,” King said about the Lahaina Crossroads proposal. “We have seen what can happen if we don’t move quickly enough.”

“That was certainly a hard lesson,” Molina added. “Time is of the essence; we don’t need more people facing houselessness.”

The vote was 7-0, with Paltin and Council Vice Chairperson Keani Rawlins-Fernandez absent and excused. Paltin was unable to vote due to technical issues. 

Original source: https://mauinow.com/2022/09/28/maui-council-a-step-closer-to-buying-lahaina-apartments-in-bid-to-save-workforce-housing/

Lahaina man arrested for kidnapping after allegedly stealing an occupied car in Kahului

Rocky Hermanns-Raymond. PC: (Aug. 2022) Maui Police Department.

A Lahaina man was arrested on kidnapping charges after he allegedly entered an occupied vehicle that was running and unlocked in the parking lot of the Kahului Shopping Center.

A 57-year-old Kahului woman was sitting in the third row of the 2020 Nissan Armada, when the man entered the vehicle and drove off, according to police reports.

The incident occurred at around 11:50 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022 at the shopping center located at 65 West Kaʻahumanu Avenue in Kahului.

Despite the victim’s pleas to be let out, the male, later identified as 31-year-old Rocky Hermanns-Raymond of Lahaina, continued to drive through Kahului, according to police reports.  

Police say Hermanns–Raymond eventually stopped on West Wākea Avenue near Niʻihau Street in Kahului. “As the victim began to exit the vehicle, Hermanns-Raymond pushed the victim, demanding her bag and phone. The victim fled on foot to a nearby residence with her belongings as Hermanns-Raymond followed for a short distance in the vehicle before driving off in an unknown direction,” according to a department press release.

The victim was treated and released on scene by Medic personnel.

At approximately 12:52 p.m., in response to the vehicle’s GPS, checks for Hermanns-Raymond were conducted in the Launiupoko and Olowalu areas.  

The vehicle was subsequently located on Luawai Street in Lahaina, where officers noticed the presence of another occupant moving within the vehicle, which they could not identify.  Upon being contacted, police say Hermanns-Raymond refused commands to stop, at which point a vehicle pursuit occurred through Lahaina and past Nākālele Point, resulting in two motor vehicle accidents.  One accident occurred when Hermanns-Raymond struck the bridge at Honolua Bay, and the other occurred on Kahekili Highway near mile marker 14.5 when Hermanns-Raymond struck another vehicle, according to police.

Near mile marker 11, Hermanns-Raymond failed to negotiate a turn, causing the vehicle to go off the roadway, colliding into the bushes and a metal pipe.  As the vehicle came to a stop, Hermanns-Raymond exited via the driver’s door window and went over the side of the cliff.

Officers located the other vehicle occupant, which was revealed to be a dog. The dog was later released into the Maui Humane Society’s custody.

Officers conducted checks for Hermanns-Raymond on foot, but due to the area’s inaccessibility, Air 1 was brought in to assist with the search.   Air 1 personnel made contact with Hermanns-Raymond approximately 100-200 feet down from Kahekili Highway, but say he refused to come out of the bush area or get into the helicopter.  Special Response Team members were then flown down into the area but were unable to locate the man’s exact location.   Eventually, due to darkness setting in, the search was called off for the night.

At first light on Monday, Sept. 26, 2022, SRT members returned to the area where Hermanns-Raymond was last known to have been but were unable to locate him. At approximately 6:12 a.m., an unknown male fitting Hermanns-Raymond’s description was observed stealing a 1996 Ford Ranger from a Waiheʻe residence, fleeing southbound on Kahekili Highway.

On Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022, at approximately 6:09 a.m., officers located Hermanns-Raymond near the intersection of Vineyard and North Market Streets in Wailuku.  Police say as officers approached Hermanns-Raymond, “he attempted to flee on foot, and as officers tried to detain him, Hermanns-Raymond attempted to punch an officer in the face.”  The officer avoided the strike and eventually gained compliance from Hermanns-Raymond, according to department reports.   

Hermanns-Raymond sustained a small laceration due to the incident but refused medical treatment when medics responded to the scene. No other injuries were reported.

Hermanns-Raymond was taken into police custody without incident and placed under arrest for:

  • One count kidnapping
  • One count second degree robbery
  • One count third degree theft
  • One count first degree unauthorized control of propelled vehicle
  • One count resisting arrest
  • One count first degree resisting an order to stop a motor vehicle
  • One count of reckless driving
  • One count of driving without a driver’s license
  • Three counts of collisions involving damage to a vehicle or property

The investigation is ongoing.

Original source: https://mauinow.com/2022/09/28/lahaina-man-arrested-for-kidnapping-after-allegedly-stealing-an-occupied-car-in-kahului/

Settlement reached between UPW and County of Maui over temporary hazard pay

After more than two years of a dispute over contract language on Temporary Hazard Pay in the Bargaining Unit 01 contract, Maui County has agreed to a settlement, according to the United Public Workers.

“United Public Workers members working in Maui County will finally receive fair compensation for hazardous work dutifully performed during the pandemic,” the union said.

According to the UPW, “Maui County employees provided essential services as sewage treatment plant operators, garbage collectors, custodians, and workers in many other high-exposure environments performing work throughout Maui County for more than 18 months during the global pandemic. “

Temporary Hazard Pay language in the Bargaining Unit 01 contract requires the Employer to pay up to a 25% premium to workers in most severe cases, which could lead to disability or fatality; however, that didn’t happen.

This settlement agreement of 20% compensates Bargaining Unit 01 workers in Maui County for hazardous work they performed during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Member Willaim Acain who has been working for Lahaina Parks for over 16 years said, “A few of us actually got COVID.” Of the settlement, he added, “It’s better than nothing, and at least we are getting something for us being exposed to hazardous conditions.”

State Director Kalani Werner said, “Our members perform critical work in many of the most hazardous jobs imaginable, and they do this in service to communities throughout the State of Hawaiʻi. While some were able to telecommute during the pandemic, UPW members were expected to report daily to their job sites. We are pleased with this decision, and, more importantly, members in Maui County agreed it was fair.”

Maui Now reached out to County officials who responded on Monday saying, “Mayor Victorino is unable to comment while work is ongoing to resolve grievances over temporary hazardous pay with other unions.”

Original source: https://mauinow.com/2022/09/28/settlement-reached-between-upw-and-county-of-maui-over-temporary-hazard-pay/

Maui Fire Department to conduct live fire training, Oct. 2 to Nov. 2 in Waikapū

PC: Maui Fire Department / Facebook

The Maui Fire Department will conduct live fire training, Oct. 3 through Nov. 2, with the exception of weekends and holidays.

The training will take place on the Waiʻale 905 property in an area just below or east of the Maui Tropical Plantation in Waikapū.

Smoke associated with this training will be visible in the area during the hours of 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. on these days.

Department officials say various MFD resources will be on site to assure proper management and safety during these trainings.

Original source: https://mauinow.com/2022/09/28/maui-fire-department-to-conduct-live-fire-training-oct-2-to-nov-2-in-waikapu/