Letter to the Wailea 670 Developer
534 Kohala Street
Kihei, HI 96753
May 19, 2007
Dear Mr. Jencks:
Thank you for your letter. I was surprised to write the Council about Wailea 670 and receive a reply from the owner’s representative.
I want to clarify one point you made in particular. You said in your letter “your reference to any leveraging any real estate sales people is simply not true. The truth is I have encouraged the industry to not testify in support of the project.” Perhaps you’re having some confusion about which hearing, as I was not specific.
Last January 4, 2006, you made a presentation to promote Wailea 670 at one of the major real estate offices and at no time in that presentation did you tell realtors not to testify. The owner/broker then strongly encouraged all realtors to turn out to the public hearing in Kihei in order to impress the developer and hopefully get the listing. After the hearing, the broker reported to the agents that the office had the most attendees and testifiers, more than competing real estate offices.
It may have been for this March 14, 2007 Council Land Use Committee hearing, immediately prior to the budget process, that you encouraged realtors not to testify. I understand their testimony would have taken up valuable time and decreased the odds of getting the Wailea 670 development approved prior to budget.
You mention the Maui Meadows Homeowners Association. I spoke to Ed Kennedy, the president of that association, and he said, “We have opposed Wailea 670 for 20 years.” The residents were also not adequately informed that you are planning a loaded roadway in their “buffer zone.” So, again, you may be having some confusion when you suggest the only concerns are the view impacts of a few.
There also seems to be a mistaken perception that the Kihei Community Association supports this project. The Association (KCA) heard your presentation without inviting alternative viewpoints to the proposed development, and there was no vote of the whole association. I spoke to members of KCA and they said, “Nobody asked us.” I spoke to David Frazier, president of the KCA, and he confirmed that there was no vote. He also said that the board simply wrote that the project had good land use in terms of roundabouts and high-density areas with connectivity. He stated “We did not say anything in our letter about water or infrastructure or whether or not that development should be built there. That is not our purview. That is the decision of the Council.”
You wrote of your many letters of support for this project and suggested I read them. So I did read the 180 letters you sent the council with the cover, dated June 7, 2006. There were multiple copies of 21 form letters in similar style. I only saw two original letters.
I just want to point out that when you refer to overwhelming community support for this development, there are some smoke and mirrors.
As a resident homeowner in South Maui, I am very concerned about water. Hydrologists may come up with different estimates of sustainable yield, but when the United States Geological Survey (USGS) measures and states that “Data has shown that water levels in the Iao have declined to nearly one-half of the predevelopment levels” and chloride concentrations now exceed EPA guidelines in at least two of the wells, there is no question. We are already using too much water. Without independent water resource research and planning, we must not approve major developments like Wailea 670. This is a very serious situation in both central and south Maui.
In your conditions to the county, you request to have the option to use county water, which comes from Iao. If your golf course uses one million gallons a day and you add household use, excluding the percentage you are able to recycle, and landscaping irrigation, that is a lot of water that then would not be available for the people of Maui.
The local aquifer, Kamaole, needs independent study. You stated on May 10 that you have a hydrologic study but refuse to make it available. Geologically speaking, there is no available known evidence to support a viable drinking water supply for a large-scale development. It seems that any further demand on the brackish aquifer could kill grass in existing golf courses and people’s yards in Wailea/Makena after a lag time of a year or so. A source said that they need to be very careful not to over pump or the salt content goes through the roof and the grass dies.
You express concern for the working people of Maui and their housing, yet the Planning Department report of February 26, 2007 states, “the applicant (Wailea 670) in their analysis concludes that affordable housing is not an issue and would be inappropriate for the proposed resort development.” The development may now be required by law to have an affordable housing component, but I would say that precious water and infrastructure should go to projects that directly reflect the needs of the people of Maui.
Wailea 670 also eliminated the ball field that was in the community plan so any working folks will have to drive for recreation while the rich folks can step out onto their golf course. I spoke to a local person. He said that this Wailea 670 is like the plantation style he grew up with. “We always felt we couldn’t go here or go there.” How much more so, when there is a member only golf course and portions of the community may be gated.
You mention traffic in south Maui and seem to think widening Piilani Highway to four lanes at one end would solve the problem. Brennon Morioka of the DOT stated, “Piilani is at maximum capacity.” Most of Piilani is already four lanes and there is back up at the traffic lights. This development combined with other build out would add 5 traffic lights. I don’t think you understand just how maxed out south Maui is, not just Piilani Highway. Now, both at the beach and in Kihei parking lots, we drive around in circles. Making a left turn across traffic on Kihei Road is frightening. Wailea 670 is bound to worsen the situation. At two cars per household, that adds 2,800 cars. The Hawaiians plan seven generations into the future. Will our children spend their lives in gridlock?
I would like the County Council to follow the guidance in the Kihei Makena Community plan that asserts “The land use designations on the community plan map are not an assertion that infrastructure will be provided to these areas but merely that it would be appropriate to develop these areas as designated on the maps if the necessary infrastructure and services are available.” They are not.
When Wailea 670 was included in the community plan, there was a Piilani Highway extension planned going upcountry in the middle of the project providing a second escape route from south Maui. Allowing this development now would be putting thousands more people in peril in the event of an emergency.
As far as the money Wailea 670 would be required to pay in park fees and assessments, the county has $5 million in bond for South Maui parks, plus $750,000 already allocated from the last budget for park improvements. We need open space more than money.
I researched your employers, Cargill and Lehman Brothers, to examine their past history and assess their integrity and likelihood of honoring their agreements. My research raised serious questions. A July 16, 2005 Reuters Article reported that a human rights group sued Cargill and two other corporations to force them to step up efforts to end child labor on African farms. “Thousands” of children were allegedly enslaved from 1996 until the time of the article, forced to endure “trafficking, torture and forced labor.”
According to Earth Island Journal and Mother Jones (1993), Cargill was on the Council on Economic Priorities’ short list of worst environmental offenders. In 2005, the US Dept. of Justice, for the EPA, settled with Cargill alleging, “Cargill had significantly underestimated emissions from its operations in 13 states.” ENS reported in 2002 that Cargill illegally dumped hog waste, killing about 53,000 fish. In 2007, Yale Global cites Cargill’s leading role in “mostly illegal” burning and destruction of 10,000 square miles in a year of rainforest for animal feed and notes the use of “slave labor” by their growers.
Lehman Brothers paid $360 million to settle charges of fraud and financial wrongdoing according to the Public Citizen Congress Watch dated August, 2003.
Are these companies we can trust? Will they care for the local people and the environment and help bring Maui into a sustainable future? I think not.
Cc: Mayor Tavares, Michael Molina, Chair, and members of the Land Use Committee