Sierra Club Press Release
Maui Sierra Club criticizes La`au Point Development plan, urges county to consider long-term impacts of rezoning.
In a letter addressed to the Maui County Planning Dept. and Molokai Planning Commission The Sierra Club Maui Group last week urged planning professionals to “seriously question” the conclusions of the Draft Environmental Impact Assessment for La`au Point and asked that the Sierra Club be considered as a consulting party on the matter. The Sierra Club Maui Board in December voted unanimously to submit official comments stating their opposition to the development of La`au Point. The conservation group finds fault with the DEIS’ claim that marine resources at La`au will be better protected and managed under the proposed development plan (which includes buffer areas and regulated access) than they are now, and argues that the “remote location of La`au Point is providing a natural management tool for these resources, which include the limu, kohu, ophihi, pipipi, and aama crab that help sustain the subsistence lifestyle of Molokai residents. Lucienne de Naie of the Sierra Club Maui’s conservation committee says that the La`au Point DEIS “makes the same promises of marine resource protection being compatible with development of a formerly remote area that citizens of Maui have heard over the last three decades.” Such a statement, she says, should be treated with a high degree of skepticism. “If there is one site on Maui or Molokai island that can be shown to have improved marine resources or marine environment conditions as a result of past developments, this study should provide evidence…” she says.
The Sierra Club Maui also criticized the DEIS treatment of fresh water resource management on Molokai, highlighting the logical improbability of “water use for the proposed development not presenting any impacts on the claims of subsistence farmers or others for the same water resources.”
“This simply does not make any sense,” says DeNaie, who warns that anyone advocating for La`au Point development should study the history of Maui’s Makena area, which was “a remote region with rugged roads frequented mostly by fishermen before the Kihei civic plan was passed in 1970.”
“Thirty years have passed and although promises were made to care for cultural sites, fishing grounds, water quality and other natural resources, the loss to the public has been great,” explains the Sierra Club comment letter. In Makena, 155 acres were protected as a state beach park and almost 1500 acres as a Natural Area Reserve, but easy access to the area and the growth of exclusive luxury home communities has turned these protected areas into “crowded tourists traps” in the space of about 15 years, explains de Naie.
“Local families who once lived and fished in the area have been forced to sell their lands due to escalating taxes and the demands of the new residents now dictate what the future shape of the natural lands will be. Local residents have been herded into a few last beach areas and a way of life that many enjoyed for generations has been lost. These impacts were discussed in Makena Resort’s 1974 plan, but the conclusion was that other economic benefits would outweigh them.”
Recognizing the same economic opportunity rhetoric employed in MPL’s DEIS, the Sierra Club Maui ends their comments with a simple plea: “Don’t let the same thing happen to the people and lands of Molokai.”
Lance Holter, Chair Sierra Club Maui Group