GPAC Meeting Tackles Housing Issues

At this month’s General Plan Advisory Committee for Molokai (GPAC) meeting, the board scrutinized goals, objectives and policies relating to Island Housing in the 2030 Countywide Policy Plan. Other changes under debate aimed to make the document more easily understood.

Kupuna Ruth Ululani Manu decried the recent increases in property tax, pointing out a $6000 hike within a six month period on some parts of the island, asking whether an exemption could be made. With the issue of affordability came the suggestion from planners that progressive property taxation should be encouraged. This would put a cap on taxation until the resale of the property, thereby encouraging Molokai people to stay on Molokai. This type of taxation also frees income tax from inheritance of the land, as was proposed by Board Member Daniel Bennett.

Amendments to the plan also aimed to keep land price down by regulating Capital Gains Opportunities for non-ag improvements, as was requested by Board member Alton Arakaki. Provisions will be added to address offshore speculation, whilst Transient Vacation Rentals shall be discouraged.

Provisions were discussed so that land would be designated to build housing for local people and it was agreed that creating fee-simple, affordable housing was of the utmost importance to Molokai. Under the new mandates, projects which would provide affordable housing would be the only circumstance under which the rezoning and conversion of ag lands would be encouraged, with preference or priority given to Molokai residents.

“Decent sized lots shouldn’t be only available to the wealthy people,” stated Chairman DeGray Vanderbilt. He continued by warning against creating a cumbersome General Plan, urging the Maui County Planners “keep it simple and don’t try to solve everything in policy statements.”

Erin Wade a Long Range Planner with Maui County seemed to be in accord with this principle, noting that an index would soon be added to the draft and backing the expansion of existing homeownership programs. Although there was some concern that the overall impact of policies were lost by splitting up sections on water and agriculture, Wade mentioned that this had been done to avoid redundancies which had appeared in previous plans. This seemed to quell any worries which were held by the board.

“Molokai came up with some excellent ideas which will be excellent additions to the plan,” said Wade after the meeting. When coupled with the peacefulness of the meeting and the easy agreement between Board Members and County Planners, many agreed that a sound relationship was being built.

The meeting provided discussion on Section IV of the Countywide Plan, with Good Governance, Education and Local Culture and Traditions appearing on the agenda in addition to housing issues. The next GPAC meeting is scheduled for March 15, 2007 at 6pm.


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