Makena Resort: Maui’s Greenest Community? Fact or Fiction?
Claim: GRADUAL BUILD-OUT
Makena Resort is planning 1,100 houses and condos over a twenty year period- impacts to local residents will be small.
Increased housing density in Makena will require widening of Makena Alanui Rd, installation of additional sewage and water lines and other infrastructure, even before any homes are built. Even building 50 units a year means increased heavy construction traffic throughout south Maui for a number of years.
Claim: LEED CERTIFICATION = GREEN DEVELOPMENT
The entire Makena Resort development will be certified for “green building practices’ under the LEED guidelines (Leadership in Energy Efficiency Design).
LEED uses a point system. A builder can do a variety of things to “get points.” They may not choose to try to get points for certain green practices, if they would be inconvenient or expensive. Other important development impacts are not even addressed by LEED guidelines. For example: LEED rules do not require protection of sensitive cultural or historic sites, native plant habitat (unless species are listed as endangered) nor do they address providing adequate parking and access in coastal areas.
Claim: NO TRAFFIC PROBLEMS
Makena Resort has invested in the design work to improve Piilani Highway to 4 lanes, therefore they deserve to urbanize more land.
Piilani hiway was restriped to four lanes, making a dangerous high speed road with no center island to deter head on collisions. This was necessary to barely meet even current levels of traffic, including workers and guests traveling every day to Makena’s Maui prince Hotel.
Claim: PROJECT OWED IAO AQUIFER WATER
Makena Resort invested millions to bring water to everyone else in South Maui from the Iao aquifer. Now they are “owed” 2 mgd or more of water from Iao aquifer.
Makena Resort invested around $2.5 million in the Central Maui Joint Venture (c. 1979) a pipeline from Iao aquifer in central Maui to Wailea/Makena. The state put up $4 million for the pipeline. The county offered the four Joint Venture Partners half of the Iao groundwater expected to be developed- up to 19 mgd, “if available.” Iao aquifer turned out to have only 20mgd, not 40 mgd available.
All the Joint Venture partners had to settle for less water than they expected. Makena Resort and other partners were all paid back their “investment “ in full in 1989. The Joint Venture agreement expired in 1999. The Water Department has stated that no water is owed to Makena Resort under the expired Joint Venture agreement.
Claim: PROJECT GIVES AFFORDABLE HOUSING
Makena Resort will provide 550 units of affordable housing for South Maui.
Makena Resort investors have stated that they will build 550 units of affordable housing offsite in North Kihei. The price levels of these affordable units have not been defined, so it is not known how many units would actually be within the range of local families. Creating Makena as an exclusive luxury community, where all workers will need to drive in from somewhere else does not make sense in terms of creating a real “green community” by either social or environmental standards.’
None of Maui’s ordinary working people will be able to live on this 1,000 acres of Makena land. Since the County’s new workforce housing bill requires each development build 50% of its units as affordable, Makena Resort would actually need to build 1,100 units somewhere else. This means that scarce water resources must support up to 2,200 new units..over 2 million additional gallons of water a day.
Claim: CULTURAL SITES WILL BE PROTECTED
Numerous cultural sites found on the Makena Resort lands will be cared for by a cultural advisory group and well protected.
Only 16 of the over 500 cultural sites identified on Makena Resort lands are currently proposed for preservation. The rest will or have been judged “insignificant” out of public view, and therefore can be destroyed. Over one-third of the 1,000 acres proposed for rezoning have not had any cultural work done for 20 to 30 years, and work done at that time was incomplete. Inadequate archaeological review has been done to determine any final preservation areas. Currently, most known sites on the property, including several heiau are neglected and overgrown.
Claim: NO IMPACTS TO OCEAN WATER QUALITY
Golf courses and other developments do not affect ocean water quality or health of reefs. Makena Resort’s consultant haas studied the water and his yearly reports show no problems.
Ocean waters off Makena are listed as “in the impaired’ the State Department of Health 2004 assessment. The resort’s consultant, Steve Dollar, is notorious for never finding any impacts from golf course or nearshore developments, even in areas where reefs and fisheries have obvious degradation. Dollar’s studies show no impacts because they only examine minimal possible pollution sources, make unsupported assumptions about how pollutants spread and do not include thorough comparisons of actual reef health in the Makena area.
Claim: MAUI WORKERS NEED JOBS
Makena Rezoning is needed to create steady work for Maui’s construction workers and support local families.
Thousands of units of hotels, timeshares, luxury and affordable housing are currently fully approved for construction over the next 20 years. Construction workers are coming to Maui from other islands and from the mainland to fill the current need. This project is not about needed jobs.
It’s about desired profits.
Claim: SECOND HOMES USE FEW SERVICES AND PAY TAXES
Makena Resort’s 1,100 units will be mostly second homes, occupied only a few months with less impact on local services, but generating large tax revenues.
70% of Wailea-Makena properties are currently owned by part-time residents. In Kihei the rate is over 50%, yet public service needs, traffic and water use figures continue to soar, since many units are used as vacation rentals. Tax revenues never seem enough to buy and maintain parks, build needed sewage treatment facilities, schools or roads, protect our oceans and reefs, or increase ranks of vital workers.
Claim: THIS REZONING IS JUST FOLLOWING THE COMMUNITY PLAN
This rezoning request is a “housekeeping measure” to bring Makena Resort lands into compliance with the Community Plan.
Makena Resort was able to push around 100 acres of additional land into the high density condo category (A2) and another 28 acres for hotel in the last Kihei-Makena Community Plan (1997).
Now they are trying to upzone those lands through the change in zoning process- an increase in 50 acres or more of developable land. The Community Plan also had language as well as maps, and that language mandates many protective actions be taken that are being ignored by this proposed project. The “community” didn’t decide that these lands should be urbanized. Makena Resort did.
Claim: Makena planned as a resort many years ago
It was decided many years ago that all these lands would be used for resorts, so we need to keep our promises and follow through with these zoning commitments.
Many promises were made many years ago that have been revisited. Big Beach in Makena was planned to be covered with condos, but plans changed. Kealia Pond was proposed as a fancy marina development, but it was changed into a wildlife preserve. Wailea Resort had lands for worker’s housing, a school and a large park, but these things never materialized.
To the people’s loss, many lands designated as park or open space in community plans, have been given zoning entitlements to develop, such as Palauea Beach, parklands adjacent to the West Maui Airport and the infamous Lime kiln site in Pa’ia. Old plans should be re-evaluated based upon current community needs. Luxury investment properties are not in short supply on Maui at the present time.