Our History, Our Future
Often, we think planning is all about the future. In fact, good planning is as much looking at where we came from, as it is charting where we will go next.
Sharing and honoring the history of South Maui helps us ensure that we learn from the past as we plan for the future. Indeed, if anyone doubts the importance of long-range planning, they need only look at South Maui to see how land use planning leads towards a specific, intentional future.
The South Maui community plan region includes portions of three traditional moku (land divisions or regions) — Wailuku, Kula, and Honuaʻula — that stretch mauka to makai. Within South Maui, Moku ʻo Wailuku begins at the westerly end of Māʻalaea and stretches to what is now known as Sugar Beach. Moku ʻo Kula includes the area beyond that point to Kilohana Rd. Moku ʻo Honuaʻula extends from that point up to Kahikinui. Within these moku are ahupuaʻa (smaller land divisions also stretching mauka to makai). Historically, the ahupuaʻa were further divided into ʻili (communities) that were cared for by and associated with extended Native Hawaiian families.
Looking at the landscape in South Maui today, it is hard to imagine what these lands were like pre-contact. Moʻolelo (stories) and kūpuna (elders and ancestors) tell us that South Maui was dappled with wetlands and busy with Native Hawaiian families tending their māla (gardens) and harvesting fish, shellfish and limu (seaweed) from the coral reef or nearshore and loko iʻa (fish ponds).
Leeward lands and are naturally drier and hotter. The rain that fell on the forest lands in the mauka portions of Kula and Honuaʻula, and the springs sprouting from the rock in between, fed these wetlands making South Maui ideal for cultivation of some traditional crops and aquaculture as well as fishing. Families living mauka and makai would trade across ahupuaʻa to ensure a well-rounded diet and obtain other supplies.
After Europeans, and later Americans, began arriving in the islands, the landscape started to change. While Captain James Cook’s appearance in Hawaiʻi is well documented as the first contact between Native Hawaiians and the west, it was Captain Jean Francois de Galaup de la Perouse of France who was the first westerner to step on the shores of Maui in 1786. The place he landed is known today as La Perouse Bay more commonly than its traditional place name — Keoneʻōʻio — and he made a special point in his journal to note that he was not claiming “Mowee” for the kingdom of France calling this practice of claiming already inhabited lands, “too utterly ridiculous.” He only stayed on Maui for two days.
After la Perouse, other westerners followed, flocking mostly to Lāhainā, Wailuku, Makawao, and Hāna, leaving South Maui less populated than other places. But some newcomers began planting non-traditional crops to meet the tastes of visitors. Honuaʻula hosted commercial sugar operations and ʻuala haole (Irish potato) fields were common in the mid 1800s. Ranching and grazing in mauka portions of Kula and Honuaʻula, and the cattle trade that went with it, made Mākena Landing one of the busiest ports on Maui by the 1920s.
During World War II, the entire shoreline of South Maui was heavily impacted by military exercises occurring on-shore, off-shore and on neighboring Kahoʻolawe and Molokini. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, some local families living along the shoreline were forced to move from the area and their homes were demolished. The exercises continued after the war in South Maui, and on Kahoʻolawe, bombing continued until 1990.
Decades of upland grazing activities and mauka deforestation affected the wetlands in South Maui. By the 1960s, in a survey conducted prior to a major planning effort in Kīhei in the 1970s, residents complained of dust, wind and lack of services, describing a place that was very different than the wetland-rich shorelines of centuries before.
By the 1960s, tourism on Maui was getting started, but South Maui remained largely undeveloped with one hotel (the Maui Lu), a few families tending small farms, and ranchers’ livestock grazing the uplands. In 1970, those with an eye toward expanding tourism saw the potential in South Maui’s beautiful, white-sand beaches. With a federal grant, under the provisions of the United States Housing Act of 1954, Section 701, Maui County planning staff began drafting the Kīhei Civic Development Plan (often called the Kīhei 701 Plan).
Soon after, the County, land developers and the larger community began implementing the plan, buying up lands and converting them to tourist-oriented businesses, housing, and resorts, while the County set aside areas for parks and other public facilities. Comparing the Kīhei 701 Plan to the current developed area of South Maui today illustrates the influence of long-range planning. South Maui looks very much as it was planned to look in the Kīhei 701 Plan, for better or for worse.
For many locals, South Maui is home, a place of work, or a place to play. To visitors, it is a paradise filled with fun and relaxation — a sunny destination in the dead of winter or a beach-front part-time home. Many Native Hawaiians with ancestral ties to this ʻāina (land), however, see what was lost with implementation of the Kīhei 701 Plan and successive community plans — almost exclusive access to their sacred places and the perpetuation of traditional cultural practices among other things. They believe we should right some of the wrongs done to the Native cultural, socio, and environmental landscape in this area by incorporating kūpuna intellect in developing this community plan, a western plan.
With each community plan update, we have an opportunity to learn from the past and plan for a better future. Everyone who calls South Maui home possesses the ability to plan a better future through participation in the South Maui Community Plan update process. The County is working closely with the community to address the needs and concerns brought about by past decisions and current circumstances. Together, we will chart a course for the future that is guided by traditional knowledge, best planning practices, and the vision of South Maui’s people.
With the South Maui Community Plan update, we are learning about what the community needs in the future, crafting a vision that describes that future, and building a plan that will help the community and decision makers achieve that vision.
What is the South Maui Community Plan?
The South Maui Community Plan provides guidance on future development and revitalization in South Maui and provide recommendations for future transportation systems, parks, greenways, and infrastructure. The plan will help bring to life the community’s vision for the future of South Maui. Read our FAQ below to learn more.
Phase I: Research
Identify current conditions, issues and opportunities to define the major topics of the plan.
Phase II: Community Workshops
Confirm and refine key topics of the plan and develop future land use priorities.
Phase III: Draft Community Plan
Combine the community’s feedback with planning best practices to write a draft community plan that implements South Maui’s vision.
Phase IV: Community Plan Advisory Committee Meetings
Seek recommendations from the Community Plan Advisory Committee on the draft plan.
Phase V: Maui Planning Commission Review
Seek recommendations from the Planning Commission on the draft plan.
Phase VI: Maui County Council Approval
County Council review of the draft plan and adoption by ordinance.
The County Council adopted the Kihei-Makena Community Plan in 1998. A lot has changed in South Maui since the community wrote the current plan and it’s our job to work together to build an updated plan that reflects the needs and vision of today’s South Maui community.
South Maui Community Plan General Information
What is the South Maui Community Plan and what is its purpose?
The South Maui Community Plan (the Community Plan) is a community-specific land use plan that provides guidance on future development and preservation of South Maui over a 20-year period. With a focus on land use and development, the updated Community Plan will help bring to life the community’s vision for the future of South Maui. The Community Plan will guide what future development within the Community Plan area should look like and provide recommendations for
- future land use
- how people move within and through the area
- parks and greenways
- infrastructure expansion and development
The Planning Department will develop the South Maui Community Plan Map with community input. The Community Plan Map will guide the types of development envisioned within each area and future zoning that will implement the uses. The Community Plan Map will also guide how new development will look and feel, including the density of development and the general types of uses that are allowed (e.g. housing, businesses, etc.)
How will the County use the South Maui Community Plan?
The County will use the South Maui Community Plan as a guide in developing annual and capital improvement program budgets, reviewing proposed development projects, updating or revising existing regulations and zoning, and establishing new programs and initiatives impacting the South Maui Community Plan area.
How will the South Maui Community Plan affect me personally?
The South Maui Community Plan will shape future growth and the character of future development within towns and neighborhoods. The Plan will guide the development or revitalization of the areas where you live, work, shop and play. The Plan will also guide decisions on protection of critical environmental and cultural resources. This is an opportunity for residents to have their voices heard and to influence the future vision of their own community.
Why does the South Maui Community Plan need to be updated?
The planning period for Community Plans is 20 years. The South Maui Community Plan was last updated in 1998, so it is due for an update in order to reflect the current and anticipated conditions in South Maui and to address area-specific challenges and opportunities facing residents.
What is the process and timeline to update the South Maui Community Plan?
The process to update the South Maui Community Plan is taking place in six phases:
- Phase I Research and Preparation (2020-2021)
- Phase II Public Engagement (2020-2022)
- Phase III Plan Drafting (2021-2022)
- Phase IV Community Plan Advisory Committee Meetings (2022)
- Phase V Maui Planning Commission Review (2022-2023)
- Phase VI Maui County Council Approval (2023-2024)
Each phase includes opportunity for public feedback. We are working diligently to meet these target dates, and hope that the COVID-19 pandemic will not require adjustments.
Who is involved?
Maui County Planning Department staff and our consultants, Belt Collins Hawaiʻi, will work with the South Maui community, other County and State departments, and appointed and elected officials to update the Plan. Maui residents, business owners, and land owners are encouraged to be involved throughout the process.
How can I participate in this plan while the COVID-19 pandemic is still going on?
Public engagement is much more than public meetings. With new technology – combined with old-school methods – County staff are working to ensure that public engagement in the update will be meaningful and robust. We anticipate that public engagement will need to be online through the end of 2020, therefore all activities will be accessible online. The County commits to moving this process along without ever putting the public’s health or safety at risk. We will adjust our approaches and expectations throughout the process, working with community stakeholders to ensure the Community Plan at the end of this process reflects the needs and vision of the South Maui community.
How can I get involved?
You can get involved in every step of the process by participating in surveys, interviews, community design workshops, public hearings and informational meetings. The community planning process also facilitates public participation through a dedicated website, social media, radio, newspaper, television, and other types of communication.
Contact the Planning Department at 808-270-7214 or email@example.com to get involved and access the latest information. You can also visit our website at www.wearemaui.org for project information and updates. We look forward to hearing from you.
What is the Community Plan Advisory Committee (CPAC) and how can I become a member?
A Community Plan Advisory Committee (CPAC) is appointed for each Community Plan area when that area’s plan is being updated. Committee members must be residents of the Community Plan area and are appointed to provide resident input in the planning process. CPAC members provide guidance on local issues that influence the physical, social, and economic development of their community and are charged with reviewing and recommending revisions to the Community Plan. A total of 13 CPAC members are appointed by the Mayor and the County Council. Four are appointed by the Mayor and nine are appointed by the County Council.
If you are interested in becoming a Community Plan Advisory Committee member please contact either the Mayor’s Office (808) 270-7855 or the Office of Council Services (808) 270-7838.
How will my voice be heard and my feedback used?
Your voice and feedback are important for updating the South Maui Community Plan. Public input will be incorporated throughout this process and will inform the draft that Planning Department staff will prepare for the CPAC. Data will be compiled summarizing the feedback received from the community and public engagement summaries will be posted to the homepage. Plan priorities will be guided by the results of public engagement.
How will Community Plans be implemented?
Community Plans will include an implementation program which identifies specific programs, projects, and regulations that should be pursued over the 20-year planning period to bring the Plan’s vision, goals, and policies to life. The implementation program identifies the priority, the timing, the lead County department, the estimated cost, and the potential funding sources for each action in the Plan.
Community Plans will be implemented in four primary ways:
- County departments will use Community Plans to guide the development of their annual operating budget for specific programs and projects, as well as their six-year capital improvement program (CIP. budget for infrastructure improvements;
- The Planning Department and other County departments will use Community Plans to inform project-specific changes in zoning, general changes to the zoning code, or other County ordinances;
- The Planning Department will review development project applications and permits for consistency with Community Plans; and
- County departments will partner with other public, non-profit, and private organizations to implement a number of the Community Plans’ actions.
Community Plans’ recommendations for publicly funded roads, sidewalks, bike paths, water, wastewater and solid waste infrastructure, local drainage improvements, community parks, and other county public facilities (police and fire stations, government offices etc.) will be included by county departments in their annual capital improvement budgets to the extent practicable. It is important to remember that county departments cannot build or improve unaffordable public infrastructure and facilities, so the more realistic recommendations are, the more likely they are to be prioritized and funded.
How can I help to prioritize Community Plan actions?
Community input on prioritizing actions is essential to developing a plan that meets the community’s vision for its future. Your feedback on plan priorities is welcome at all stages of the process to update the Community Plan. You can attend – either in-person or virtually – the Community Plan public engagement events and the Community Plan Advisory Committee meetings. Staying engaged throughout the Community Plan review and adoption process by the Maui Planning Commission and Maui County Council helps ensure that the plan is a reflection of the vision and values of the community it represents.
How will the County measure the success of the Community Plan?
The South Maui Community Plan will include a monitoring and evaluation program to track plan implementation, evaluate the effectiveness of plan policies and programs, and measure progress towards achieving the Community Plan’s vision and goals. The Planning Department prepares an annual Implementation Report, which is shared with the County Council and community.
Relationship of Community Plans to other County Regulations and Programs
How do Community Plans relate to the zoning code?
Short Answer: Generally, the zoning code addresses the present use and development on a property, while the community plan designations give guidance for future use and development. The community plan designations guide zoning changes for properties. Zoning regulates many specific aspects of development including size, height, setbacks and other aspects of development. Community plan designations are more general and guide the overall character and function of an area.
Long Answer: Community Plan Maps illustrate the desired long-range land use pattern for the 20-year planning period. The Community Plan land use designations represent the community’s future vision. They are intended to be general in nature and less detailed and prescriptive regarding land use than the zoning districts which implement them.
The County regulates the physical development and use of property through zoning. While Community Plans may provide specific recommendations for changes to the county’s zoning ordinances, Community Plans do not have the same legal effect as the County’s zoning ordinances. The zoning code states what kind of specific uses (commercial, residential, industrial, etc.) are allowed. It also specifies how tall buildings can be and how far they must be setback from each side of each property. The County’s zoning ordinances are found in Title 19 of the Maui County Code. Changes to the zoning code require a public process that is separate from the Community Plan adoption process.
Are Community Plans guidance or law?
Community Plans are both guidance and law. Each Community Plan is a long-term guide for development in its region and a vision of where the community wants to be in the future. Each Community Plan is law because it is adopted by the County Council by ordinance. Community Plans are regulatory in several specific instances, including applications for changes in zoning, Special Management Area permits, County Special Use Permits, and subdivisions. Projects applying for these approvals are required to be consistent with the Community Plan’s policies and generalized land use designations.
How does the South Maui Community Plan relate to the Maui Island Plan?
The Maui Island Plan establishes a vision for the entire island along with policies to guide future development. It also establishes growth boundaries, which show where future urban and rural development and infrastructure expansion will occur.
The South Maui Community Plan will focus on development within South Maui’s urban and rural growth boundaries. The Plan will guide what future development within the Community Plan area should look like. It will also provide guidance for future land use; vehicular, bus, bike and pedestrian circulation; location of open space and parks; and infrastructure expansion and development.
What are growth boundaries and the Maui Island Plan directed growth maps?
Directed growth maps in the Maui Island Plan show the growth boundaries for each Community Plan area and identify where future development will occur across the island through 2030. The growth boundaries accommodate projected future growth in a manner that provides for jobs and housing needs, while protecting environmental, agricultural, scenic, and cultural resources. The growth boundaries encourage a more predictable development pattern, providing residents, landowners, and developers a better understanding of where the island’s communities will grow. The growth boundaries help County departments provide services and infrastructure to these areas in a more timely and affordable way.
How is the Planning Department coordinating with other County and State departments?
The Planning Department is coordinating with other County and State departments throughout the process to update the Community Plan by gathering the most accurate and up-to-date information. To help ensure the success of the Plan in becoming reality, other County and State departments will be asked to participate in the South Maui Community Plan Advisory Committee meetings, Maui Planning Commission meetings, and County Council meetings when relevant chapters are discussed. This interagency collaboration will inform realistic expectations and recommendations.
Is the update to the South Maui Community Plan project coordinating with other long-range planning projects like plans from other departments or agencies that address things like water, drainage and transportation?
The updated South Maui Community Plan will recognize appropriate recommendations provided in other plans and support them without duplicating or contradicting them.
The Maui County Planning Department is responsible for updating the General Plan and Community Plans. The Long Range Division leads this effort, working with each community to shape their desired future. The Long Range Division is a diverse group of professionals with the knowledge, experience and passion necessary to guide this process.
Planning Program Administrator
Senior Planner, South Maui Lead
Cultural Resources Planner