Reality Check on Wailea 670

Empty & Broken Promises

 

PUBLIC ACCESS:

W-670 will provide pedestrian and bicycle access ways within the roadways throughout the Wailea 670 project.

REALITY: who will have access to these pathways and during what hours? The original Change in Zoning approval conditions (1992) specified public access as follows:

Traditional native Hawaiian beach and mountain access trails across the property shall be provided; and additional access trails may be required as determined by the Council.”

In Feb 2007 W-670 substituted new language for this condition to ensure that all access would remain private and regulated by the landowners. The council Land Use committee voted to accept the following new language. Six members of the council voted in January to accept the following new language.

Private, non-dedicable, resort-residential roadway and pedestrian access standards that meet health and safety requirements shall be reviewed for purposes of phase II approval”

The change:

  • No commitment to public access.
  • No overview by Council and
  • No final plan till Phase II
  • Beyond public scrutiny.

NOTE: This bad language is not a done deal. It has only been accepted by a Council Committee. The original 1992 protection still remains in effect, unless the whole Council votes to change language. There is still time for the committee to revisit this new language during committee deliberation.


TRAFFIC & ROAD IMPROVEMENTS

W-670 will partially fund design and widening of Piilani Highway from Kilohana Road to Wailea Ike Drive to four lanes, and intersection improvements such as installation of traffic signals. $5,000/unit voluntary contribution ($7 million total ) will be paid by W-670 for traffic improvements.

Reality; If W-670 is ever approved, golf course construction starts in 2009. Piilani widening planning starts in 2012. You do the math. It is unclear whether the $5k a unit is paid each year as units are finished. If so, the 100 unit a year build out will only give a slow dribble of road funds that sound’s impressive, but is unable to accomplish much.

Widening of Piilani Hwy through the existing Maui Meadows and Wailea neighborhoods will be expensive, noisy, dusty and very disruptive of neighborhood traffic. Questions also remain about available right of way and impacts of blue rock blasting on neighboring homes.

CONSTRUCTION TRAFFIC

W-670 promised  to provide construction access from Piilani Highway to the construction sites and prohibit construction vehicles from roads within the Wailea Resort area.

REALITY: This is great for Wailea, but doesn’t help address impacts of heavy construction traffic on the substandard and already crowded Piilani Hiway.

 

EMERGENCY EVACUATION ROUTE

W-670 shall participate in the pro-rata funding and construction of adequate civil defense measures as determined by the State and County civil defense agencies.

REALITY: This will likely result in a civil defense siren. There is no evacuation route that can handle the current population at this end of South Maui. Civil defense told the Council if an emergency evacuation is necessary, people should put on tennis shoes and run. The roads will be gridlocked under current population loads and approving large developments which put more potential residents at risk will only worsen the situation.


Educational Fees

W-670 agreed to pay the Department of Education school fees of $3000 per dwelling ($4.2 mil). This will be paid per unit built, at 100 units over a 14 year period.

REALITY: W-670 originally had a school site included. That condition was deleted by the State Land Use Commission who agreed to the fee amounts as part of W-670’s 1994 approval. This amount won’t buy much now.


CULTURAL RESOURCES PRESERVATION

The Cultural Resources Preservation Plan (CRPP) being prepared by W-670 “shall be completed in consultation with Na Kupuna `O Maui and approved by the Cultural Resources Commission and State Historic Preservation Division. The approved CRPP shall be submitted as part of the Phase II application.

The CRPP shall primarily address items pertinent to preservation, including:

  • i) Access to specified sites;
  • ii) Appropriate protocol for visitations; and
  • iii) Manner and methods of preservation.

 

REALITY: The south part of W-670 connects directly to the culturally important lands of coastal Palau’ea and Keauhou. Cultural review of W-670 has been very incomplete. The application requirement for this proposal requires a completed and approved preservation plan.  A complete survey and mapping of sites is still needed before a preservation plan can even been submitted. No consultation with OHA has been done since 1988. A broader section of the community wishes to participate in decision-making about the preservation of sites and support exists for a native plant and cultural site preserve area of around 100 acres.


 

OCEAN WATER QUALITY

W-670 shall fund a near shore water quality monitoring program in the waters fronting the Wailea Resort area. The monitoring program shall be approved by the State Department of Health and the State Division of Aquatic Resources, Department of Land and Natural Resources.

REALITY: All the above named agencies are too busy to give much review to the monitoring reports that have been turned in by the W-670/Wailea Resort consultant. His reports are not structured to monitor some of the areas where greatest impacts would be seen. He has noted no problems from run-off that could be attributed to existing resort development.

During the last ten years that the same water quality consultant submitted monitoring reports for Makena Resort and claimed no adverse effects to the nearshore waters. However, these same reports were submitted to the Department of Health as evidence that the nearshore waters of Wailea/Makena now carry pollutant loadings that exceed state water quality standards. These waters are now listed as Impaired Water Bodies by the EPA. Local residents have experienced a shocking degradation of marine water quality and habitat.


Affordable Housing

In its 2001 rezoning Application W-670 described the 670 acre site as “not a particularly appropriate place for affordable housing, even if there was a need.”

The project market was described as from off-shore – “international, upper-class vacation or second home purchasers/builders who are attracted to the area for a variety of existing reasons. The planned quality and membership character of the community will necessarily minimize off-site property value impacts.”

In other words, the developer was planning a low risk, “low-key, privately-built, membership community” for his investors, that did not include affordable housing.

In 2007, W-670 promised to comply with the Residential Work Force Housing Policy, and provide 50%- 700 of its 1400 units as “affordable.”

 

Reality: 250 of the 700 “affordable” units are proposed as apartments built in the Kaonoulu Industrial park near Kihei Gateway Plaza.

Of the remaining 450 promised “affordable” units, around 280 of them will be for folks who can “afford” to pay between $400,000 and $535,000 for a home, not the average Maui family.

It’s possible that there MAY be 170 units that could be priced between $300,000 and $400,000. Some local families might be able to afford these. But when would they be built?

If the 250 apartments are built first, the developer’s one market price unit-for-one affordable unit deal, means that 250 market priced ($1million, and up price range) houses will be built matching the apartments before one affordable home goes on sale. At 100 units a year buildout- that’s 2 to 3 years from the 2011 proposed project start date. The first “affordable” house on site could be around 2015.

THE IRONY: In 1992, as a condition of the Planning Commission’s Community Plan Amendment approval, W-670’s former owners agreed to:

Provide 60 percent affordable housing allocated on the basis of 10 percent very low to low income, 30 percent low- moderate income and 20 percent moderate income.”

Is this condition still enforceable?


 

Water Source Development

W-670 proposes a private water source, storage facilities, and transmission lines. If supply is available, and subject to approval of the Department of Water Supply, the project may utilize the County water system for domestic use only.

Non-potable sources of water, including the use of effluent from the Kihei Wastewater Reclamation Plant shall be utilized for irrigation purposes and dust control of construction activities when it becomes available to the Wailea 670 project.

 

REALITY: There is no proven source for the 1.5 mgd of potable water that would be needed by the 1150 to 1400 proposed units onsite. W-670 has confidential studies that they contend show future wells will produce drinkable water, but these studies have not been disclosed or reviewed by independent experts. Desalinization is mentioned as a back-up, but County studies have shown it to be expensive and not without unanswered questions, like increased electric demand and waste product disposal.

The use of treated wastewater for irrigation and other non-potable needs would require W-670 to fund a transmission pipe to their site from the county Wastewater Treatment facility to the north, something they have not yet committed to do. They can truck the reclaimed water in for dust control.


 

PARKS

Any large public park areas that W-670 offers to provide are currently proposed off site. A few small parks accessible to the public are proposed on site. $20 million in Park fees for the new Kihei Regional park off Welakahao St. is also promised. $5 million in funding for a Little League field in the future Kihei Regional Park is tied to subdivision approval.

REALITY: No park is proposed to address the needs of Maui Meadows residents for an adequate buffer. The $20 mil in park fees will come gradually, as units are built and sold, meaning that it will be many years before enough funds are available to build the park.

The Little League field was promised on the W-670 site as a condition of the project’s earlier approval process. Now that “condition” is being changed to an in-lieu fee of $5M to help start the first phase of the regional park. None of the money is earmarked for a Little League field. Kamalii school students might have enjoyed having more playing fields in South Kihei as was originally intended.


GOLF COURSE

Private golf course, clubhouse and facilities are planned for “Member’s Only.” Original approvals included 2 golf courses with 50% of tee times reserved for HI residents on one course, at 50% kama’aina rates for play and carts.

In lieu of public play at reduced rates, as originally required of the developer by a previous council, the Developer now proposes instead to provide an instructional program 3 days a week from September through January for the Maui Junior Golf Association. Also, they will sponsor one Maui Junior Golf Association fund-raising tournament per year. Additionally, they will permit four other non-profits to hold a fund raising tournament each year. Council is also asking for 1 day a week for public play on the private W-670 course

 

REALITY: The trend towards exclusive private golf courses that exclude “non-members” (such as most local residents) is now coming to various sectors of Maui. Golf courses consume land – in this case native dryland forest plant habitat. They also consume scarce water- brackish or reclaimed water that could be used for food crops, fruit and shade trees. Is this the best plan for our future? Where is the public benefit of this private golf course? What does it tell our kids, who can learn there, but never play there?


 

Animal Mitigation/Control

W-670 owners may construct perimeter fencing to keep out deer, goats & pigs.

 

REALITY: Without secure fencing, deer are like to continue access the lands in great numbers.

 

NATIVE & ENDANGERED ANIMAL SPECIES

W-670 promises to “assess” presence of Hawaiian hoary bat, Pueo (native owl) and Blackburn Sphinx moth on their lands and take steps to mitigate any harm to these species.

REALITY: If previously completed native plant and cultural site “assessments” are any guide, the project consultants will find little evidence of these creatures and little need to provide for their habitat.


Rare Native PLANTS

W-670 prepared a conservation and stewardship plan which emphasized propagation of native dry land forest plants and de-emphasized the need to protect any sizable area of the plants own chosen native habitat area. where they have been thriving for hundreds of years.

 

REALITY: 95% of Maui’s native dryland forest has disappeared. Every bit of the remaining 5% is valuable, including the southern110 acres of W-670. Developer’s survey was done in 1988 and was completely inadequate, missing the reporting of many native and endemic species, including the threatened status of the wiliwili forest. Council needs to guarantee that this will be preserved, otherwise final decisions will be made later, during Phase II project approval, with no Council or public scrutiny.


 

Drainage Master Plan

W-670 told community groups that gulches will be drainage ways with retention basins built in. Original conditions from 1992 Change in Zoning approval stated:

“Minimal grading of the project site shall be encouraged in order to retain the existing rolling topography and natural drainageways.”

“The golf course shall be incorporated into the drainage master plan in order to utilize the fairways and rough areas for storm water retention.”

 

REALITY: Both these conditions were deleted by W-670 (Feb 2007) and voted on by six members of the Council Land Use Committee while members Anderson and Johnson were not present.

 

W-670’s new condition language weakens the original approval conditions:

“Existing topography and natural drainage ways shall, to the extent practicable and feasible, be retained during grading of the project site.”

The drainage master plan shall incorporate the golf course and open spaces as areas for storm water retention and desilting basins.)

How will this affect cultural sites in “open space” areas? Will planned retention basins overflow into native plant preserves? All further drainage system approvals will happen with no public scrutiny during Phase II project district processing.

NOTE: This bad language is not a done deal. It has only been accepted by a Council Committee. The original 1992 protection still remains in effect, unless the whole Council votes to change language.


 

GOLF COURSE IRRIGATION

W-670 plans to use treated sewage effluent to irrigate the golf course when it becomes available. In the interim, non-potable ground water from its two existing private wells on site may be used for this purpose.

 

REALITY: W-670 golf course at current size will require a minimum of 1 mgd of water. The project would need approximately 1000 units to provide that amount. Under current timetables, 1000 units might be built by 2021. This golf course, if approved and installed by 2011, would be using pumped brackish water for 10 years or more. The W-670 water consultant stated that the on-site wells should only be expected to provide .3 mgd each, not enough for the expected needs of the course. If these wells are over-pumped it will affect other irrigation wells in the area.


 

WASTEWATER TREATMENT

Current zoning on the land carries the following condition:

“The applicant shall participate in its fair share development and funding of the wastewater and effluent transmission system between the project site and the Kihei Waste Water Reclamation Facility.”

The Developer now proposes a private wastewater system to be located in the southwest corner of the property, on an a’a lava flow.

 

REALITY: Private wastewater systems often are poorly managed and involve injection wells that impact reefs.

A recent study released by DLNR’s Division of Aquatic Resources reveals the devastating decline of the coral reefs fronting South Maui. Increased nutrients from injection wells and runoff have resulted in the highest algae growth rates on shallow reefs ever recorded for any ecosystem on the planet. In just ten years, the coral reef coverage in Maalaea Bay went from 50% cover down to 8%.

Plenty of reclaimed irrigation water is available from the Kihei Wastewater plant- but a transmission line needs to be funded

Council Land Use Committee members voted (August 2007) to require W-670 to hook up to Kihei Wastewater Reclamation Facility. Will this condition last through 3 council votes?


 

WHAT GETS DECIDED WITHOUT FURTHER PUBLIC REVIEW?

What stuff will be decided in Phase II or Phase III project approval…

far from any Council input or public review?

  1. Golf course impacts on local groundwater and nearshore water quality
  2. Review of private wastewater system meeting health standards
  3. Storage of petroleum products on site.
  4. Conditionsî relating to use of fertilizers, biocides and pesticides on Golf Course.
  5. Noise from maintenance facilities
  6. Solid waste management activities and facilities
  7. Erosion control and drainage
  8. Location or relocation of MECO’s electrical facilities and nature of the facility upgrades necessary to provide the electricity needs of the project and what rate increases will be a result of the costs?
  9. Roadway improvements and agreements
  10. Proposals for pedestrian and bicycle access ways
  11. Protection plans for native plants and cultural sites.