On Friday, July 19th at Cafe O'Lei in Kahului, the Maui Chamber of Commerce held it’s Annual Mayor’s Luncheon, where the Maui Mayor, Michael P. Victorino addressed guests, discussing a number of important topics to his administration and our community.
He focused on the importance of everyone working together and collaborating to come up with creative solutions to help achieve our County goals.
Mayor Victorino shared that his Tourism Task Force is working hard to find solutions to help manage County resources with our #1 economic driver being the hospitality industry.
He also shared that Maui County is leading the charge as we were the first County to ban plastic bags and polystyrene and we are getting closer to meeting our renewable energy goals. Maui County is currently at 39% renewable energy and when the new MECO solar panels are installed, we will be at 75% renewable energy and are ahead of the other counties.
In regards to housing (which was a major element of the talk), he explained that we have to look at ways to do things differently. We must look at building housing in areas where it is convenient to work, schools, shopping, etc. to create better biking/walking communities (since the US has the lowest number of drivers licenses since 1960). As the County is currently 13,000-15,000 units short, the County is looking at new ideas for housing, not just focusing in single-family 2 bedroom houses for purchase, but thinking of different ways to achieve density versus sprawl.
He is working with the Planning Department on a way to fast track permitting for 100% affordable housing. He mentioned working with the Maui Chamber and others to explore drivers to get more affordable housing and rental projects started.
He shared that 165 senior affordable units are currently being built (Kahului Lani), $27 million in state funding was secured to help fund the Villages of Leiali’I apartment units in West Maui and $5 million was secured for apartments and a homeless resource center at the old UHMC dorms.
Mayor Victorino also shared his goal of starting to build 1,500 units in 2020 and said he will announce a comprehensive plan.
Mayor Victorino invited everyone to attend the community meeting on July 23 at 5:30pm at the Velma McWayne Santos Community Center in Wailuku to get public input on options for the 50 Maui Lani lots the County acquired.
Regarding water, the Mayor explained that Maui County has an abundance of water, but the problem is moving the water to where it is needed and the County is looking at ways to make changes so all benefit and the water gets where it needs to be. The County is working on pocket plants for wastewater to be used for agriculture and irrigation as this will take the strain off our aquafers.
In addition to housing, Mayor Victorino presented other projects the County is working on, such as:
Creating 200 acres of recreational areas around Waiko Road.
$43 million for the Wailuku Civic Complex to revitalize Wailuku town and Central Maui.
$12.5 million for the Central Maui Landfill expansion and looking at ways to turn garbage into energy.
$7.5 million for Kihei sewer expansion.
He also shared his vision to make Dream City 2 in Central Maui. Dream City 1 was a benefit to families and he wants to give our children Dream City 2.
Move the County baseyard and use that area to build apartments.
Mayor Victorino ended his talk at the 2019 Maui Chamber of Commerce Annual Mayors Luncheon by sharing that we are in a prime position to make great changes, but we must respect each other and each others’ opinions and do good deeds for each other every day.