Plans a Plenty
Molokai readies for new guidelines.
By Brandon Roberts
Governing guidance is gearing up on Molokai and in Maui County. The next generation of plans which will incorporate water, development, sustainability, and conservation are on the drawing board.
Several strategic committees, filled with community and county figures, have formed to further discussions on how to preserve Molokai from mauka to makai. Last Tuesday kicked off a week of planning meetings with the Water Use and Development Plan (WUDP) at Kulana `Oiwi, and the Molokai Planning Commission (MoPC), along with the General Plan Advisory Council (GPAC) kept the Mitchell Pauole Center abuzz on Wednesday.
“Planning is not a science, it is a political art,” said Carl Freedman, a private consultant for the county Department of Water Supply (DWS). Freedman used the WUDP meeting as a brainstorming session to assess Molokai community concerns. About 40 island residents participated, stressing the importance of resource conservation and protection.
The WUDP is a long-range plan meant to provide policy guidance, and to allocate water to land use, as well as to set the basis for the DWS functional planning. The final Molokai WUDP will be adopted by the County Council as an ordinance (law).
DeGray Vanderbilt, Molokai planning guru, said “politics and water go hand in hand.” Vanderbilt believes that planning and regulations are only as good as the enforcement of them, which he claims is a real “sore spot” on Molokai.
Alton Arakaki, a WUDP participant and member of GPAC, discussed traditional conservation practices of “ridge to reef,” or the ahupua`a system. Arakaki reinforced the precautionary principle, in which planning does not assume all resources must be used. Rather it dictates preservation management and worst-case scenarios where resource information is lacking.
Molokai has an informational deficit when it comes to surface water. Ground water is currently protected and monitored as a special management area; however, surface water is not under special management or monitoring.
Creating a special management designation for the surface waters of Molokai was reinforced by Ellen Kraftsow, a planning program manager for Maui County. “We need to establish a watershed partnership,” she said.
“It is not all our water, some water belongs to the island herself, and some of the water belongs to future generations,” said WUDP attendee Mahealani Davis. She said we should not use 99 percent of the water because it is there, advocating a change in the perception of maximum use to sustainable use.
Freedman informed the WUDP participants that the Molokai water plan must be submitted to the Maui County Council by June 2009. The next meeting has not been scheduled, but it will include an update from the state Water Board.
GPAC and MoPC
Then on May 28, GPAC met to discuss Molokai developments and the upcoming Island and Community plans. The General Plan is another long-range plan set to accommodate development and sustainability through 2030.
GPAC, which is open to the public, is a “big opportunity for the community to come together,” said Steve Chaikin, MoPC chairman. “It (community involvement) is the way to success for the plan.” Chaikin recommends participants read the current Community Plan available on the Maui County website.
GPAC Chairman Dan Bennett, informed the Maui Planning Commission that Molokai is “ready to roll.” “We want our community plan to be as inclusive as possible.”
Simone Bosco, Maui County senior planner, informed the MoPC and GPAC of upcoming community outreach events that will host a series of discussions and mapping exercises. These will be monthly events designed to spark public interest in the planning process that will take place over the next year. The General Plan should be formalized in June 2009.
During the MoPC meeting, the Mana`e wetlands preservation group Malama Pono O Ka `Aina (MPOKA) has requested a formal letter be submitted to the Mayor’s office, and the Maui County Council, to ask for a new wetlands assessment.
The MoPC has accepted the request and will send the finalized letter, which requests Maui County, the United States Army Corps of Engineers, and other appropriate agencies to provide and/or coordinate matching funds for a comprehensive shoreline and wetlands study.
Joseph Kalipi, MoPC commissioner, believes MPOKA should be an authority and should “take the lead in a wetlands assessment.” MPOKA representatives believe the term authority is too strong and consider the group more of a consultant, but view the proposed project as a collaborative effort.
MPOKA reps believe the request is the medicine needed for symptoms which include a lack of governmental enforcement and inadequate education of wetlands values.
The next MoPC meeting will be at the Mitchell Pauole Center on Thursday, June 12 at 12:30 p.m. Keep checking The Molokai Dispatch for dates and times, or visit www.themolokaidispatch.com for the next GPAC and WUDP meetings.