Breaking News: Sierra Club Maui & Allies File Lawsuit to Protect Makena

Breaking News!

Sierra Club Maui & Allies File Lawsuit to Protect Makena

Sierra Club Maui Group, Maui Tomorrow Foundation, and Ho’oponopono O Makena filed a lawsuit on May 2, 2017 asking the Maui Environmental Court to halt the approval of Makena Resort’s Environmental Assessment. We are extremely worried about the environmental and cultural impacts that Makena Resort’s current proposal would have on the area and are doing everything we can to ensure a proper review be completed in the form of an Environmental Impact Statement.

Through our lawsuit, we are seeking to invalidate the Maui Planning Commission’s acceptance of the Final Environmental Assessment (FEA) and issuance of a Finding of No Significant Impact for development of the proposed 47-acre M?kena Resort M-5/M-6/S-7/B-2 project, a 158-unit gated luxury community on the mauka side of Makena-Keone’o’io Road, above Makena Landing. The FEA was approved by a 5-3 vote, with several members of the Commission expressing strong reservations regarding unresolved impacts. Read our full press release here.

 

Please support Sierra Club Maui fight the good fight by making a tax-deductible donation to support our legal fees.

You can write a check to “Sierra Club Foundation” with “Maui Group” in the memo line and mail it to: P.O. Box 791180, Pa’ia, HI, 96779 or email us to find out how to donate by credit card.

We also need non-tax deductible donations that enable Sierra Club Maui Group to do the important political work that keeps Maui?s environment protected. Click here to donate to our general operating fund.

 

Mahalo for your support, and stay tuned for updates!

2017 Hawai’i State Legislature Round Up

 

Well, it’s May 5th, which means the Hawai’i State Legislature is in recess until January 2018 (they can and may be called into special session later this year, most likely to pass a funding bill for Honolulu Rail).

Unfortunately the list of good environmental bills that made it into law is short – from pesticides to clean energy, some of our state legislators took a pass on making our environmental future brighter. Our friends who work on affordable housing and other important social issues also saw very little helpful legislation passed.

But on the bright side – we were successful at beating back many bad bills. House Bill 1536 was killed and House Bill 1469 was recommitted to next year’s session, in no small part because of Sierra Club of Hawai’i’s Executive Director Marti Townsend.

There was also some great creative activism around HB1580, a cutting edge bill that set a goal of 100% clean ground transportation by 2045 – #Bananasfor1580. Although HB1580 was eventually killed, it spurred many new and young activists to participate, and we’re excited to see what’s in store for 2018! Learn more about #Bananasfor1580.

Sierra Club Maui Group wants to extend a huge mahalo to all Sierra Club of Hawai’i Chapter Staff and allies in Honolulu who worked tirelessly to pass the good bills and beat back the bad ones!

If you want to get involved more with helping pass good bills in the next legislative session, sign up for Sierra Club of Hawai’i’s Capitol Watch Action Network.

Ban the Foam!

On Monday, May 8, 2017 the Maui County Council will make the final vote on whether to ban polystyrene (styrofoam) food containers in Maui County (Bill No. 127 – 2016). Starting at 9 am, the public can testify in person.

Here’s Why We Need a Ban:

  • Polystyrene, as a single-use toxic plastic, poses significant environmental harm to our terrestrial and ocean environment.
  • Polystyrene foam products do not biodegrade and instead break down into micro-plastics that are often consumed by seabirds and other marine animals.
  • Over 80 municipalities across the U.S. have banned polystyrene, due to its significant environmental impacts.
  • Compostable containers are non-toxic, plant-based and carried by every distributor in Hawai’i.
  • The resources and energy to make 1 polystyrene container could make 3 compostable containers.
  • To date, there have been no documented cases of restaurants or food providers going out of business because of similar polystyrene phase outs.
  • Over 3 million tons of polystyrene products are disposed of annually in U.S. landfills.
  • Polystyrene cannot be recycled after use with food, and ultimately, less than 1% of polystyrene is recycled.
  • They are more than 90% air, causing them to break apart easily and litter waterways and blow out to sea.
  • Eco-friendly containers (either compostable or reusable) are economical and eco-friendly alternatives to polystyrene.
  • The price different between polystyrene and eco-friendly alternatives is virtually $0. The price difference between many compostable products and polystyrene is negligible, and there are, in fact, a number of compostable products that are cheaper than their polystyrene counterparts.
  • Recognizing the environmental impacts of polystyrene, a number of local, Maui-based restaurants have switched to compostable, eco-friendly products and been happy with the results.
  • The ordinance bill will not go into effect until July 2018. This gives Maui County’s restaurants plenty of time to test out the many eco-friendly alternatives and find which works best for them.
  • Maui County needs a full phase out to gain the many positive benefits that will come from eliminating polystyrene food containers on our islands. Our future generations will thank the Council for supporting this important ordinance bill.

 

Please come testify in person in support of Bill 127 (2016) “The Ban the Foam Bill” on Monday, May 8th at 9 am at Maui County’s Council Chamber, 8th Floor, 200 South High Street, Wailuku.

 

Press Release: Maui Community Groups Ask Court to Halt Approval of Makena Resort’s Environmental Assessment

                  

JOINT PRESS RELEASE

Media Contact:
Albert Perez, Maui Tomorrow Foundation
(808) 264-8229
director.mauitomorrow@gmail.com

May 3, 2017

Maui Community Groups Ask Court to Halt Approval of Makena Resort’s Environmental Assessment

Luxury Development Will Have Significant Impacts on Environment & Cultural Practices

Ho’oponopono O Makena, Maui Tomorrow Foundation, and Sierra Club Maui Group filed a lawsuit in Maui’s Environmental Court on Tuesday, May 2, 2017. They are seeking to invalidate the Maui Planning Commission’s acceptance of the Final Environmental Assessment (FEA) and issuance of a Finding of No Significant Impact for development of the proposed 47-acre Makena Resort M-5/M-6/S-7/B-2 project, a 158-unit gated luxury community on the mauka side of Makena-Keone’o’io Road, above Makena Landing. The FEA was approved by a 5-3 vote, with several members of the Commission expressing strong reservations regarding unresolved impacts. The Plaintiffs are represented by attorney Lance D. Collins.

The plaintiffs’ suit points out that the FEA limited review to the proposed 47-acre development, which is only a segment of developer ATC Makena Holdings, LLC’s 1,800 acre Master Planned Development. They also allege that the FEA failed to consider significant impacts that the new luxury development would have on public views, beach access, historical sites, and Makena groundwater resources. In addition, ATC Makena Holdings plans to divert water from Central Maui’s ‘Iao aquifer for its development, but this diversion is subject to a complaint by Central Maui water users, and is under investigation by the State Water Commission.

Ashford De Lima is President of Ho’oponopono O Makena, an organization that was formed to preserve and protect cultural and historic sites in Makena, including heiau, rock structures, shrines, ancient walls, pathways, and roads. “Ho’oponopono means ‘to make things right,’ ” he said. The group’s members are interested in caring for the many historic sites in Makena with any other interested community members. Said De Lima, “Our goal is that all the things that are there in Makena should be made right.”

Mr. De Lima is a member of a fifth-generation Makena family. Most of the 47 acres currently proposed for the project, including a recorded burial site, was held by his ‘ohana during the Hawaiian Kingdom era. He is a Native Hawaiian cultural practitioner and fisherman, and has observed significant environmental impacts of neighboring development in the area. He is also concerned that the cultural review done for the developer is inadequate in an area that has so much history. “I think we need to have an independent cultural review of the proposed site and the surrounding area,” De Lima said. “I believe that the project will have significant adverse impacts on the historic, cultural, and environmental resources of the Makena area, and on our ability to continue our traditional and customary practices at Makena. Members of Ho’oponopono O Makena continue our cultural practices in and around lands proposed for the Project, yet the Applicant’s Cultural Impact Assessment Report stated that its research ‘yielded no information about cultural resources or practices being conducted in recent times on the project area.’ ”

According to Albert Perez, Executive Director of the Maui Tomorrow Foundation, “ATC Makena Holdings sliced off 47 acres from their 1,800-acre Makena Master Plan, and assessed only the impacts of that segment. They claimed that they had no further plans for the rest of the land – some of which they previously received rezoning for – and hoped nobody would question it. However, the Hawai‘i Environmental Policy Act requires the applicant to properly assess the cumulative impacts of all segments of its project prior to decision making or construction on any segment of the project. The public interest requires complete and proper environmental review.”

“Plaintiffs in this lawsuit have raised concerns about significant environmental impacts with this developer for years,” said Perez, “Unfortunately, our concerns have not been adequately addressed. “The entire Maui community reveres Makena’s beautiful beaches and precious natural resources, and the developer needs to acknowledge that the construction of an elite private enclave in this area will have significant environmental impacts, including the reduction of access to popular public beaches, loss of protected scenic views, and impairment of the Makena environment. The Maui Planning Commission knows that a Finding of No Significant Impact is only appropriate if there are no significant impacts; the Commission should have required that a full Environmental Impact Statement be prepared.”

Clare Apana, Executive Committee Member and Chair of the Sierra Club Maui Group’s Cultural Preservation Committee, expressed concern that the FEA makes no provision for the protection of the historic Makena-‘Ulupalakua Road. “Why can’t this project find a design that protects this important historic site rather than replacing it with a luxury condo building, ‘members-only’ pools, and ‘shade hale’ that no one on Maui needs? The loss of this road is not even discussed in the Environmental Assessment, and no mitigation is offered. Under the 1892 Highways Act, this road is considered a public road, and entitled to preservation. Also, the Kihei-Makena Community Plan requires that projects ‘[p]reserve and restore historical roads and paths as cultural resources,’ and requires ‘such resources to be available to the public.’ The Plan also directs that ‘Ancient Trails/Old Government Roads’ in the South Maui area ‘should be identified for preservation…’ ”

“Many of us who grew up here on Maui have used the Makena-‘Ulupalakua Road, just like generations of our ancestors. If it disappears, a part of our history and culture is lost forever, in order to create expensive condos for mainland investors,” said Apana.

Plaintiffs also questioned whether the Maui Planning Commission’s vote on the FEA was appropriate. The Commission’s vote specified a “View Enhancement Alternative,” which the Commission asked the developer to add during its January 10, 2017 meeting, yet the FEA was based on the developer’s “Preferred Alternative.”  In his transmittal letter to the State Office of Environmental Quality Control, the Maui Planning Director wrote of the Planning Commission’s acceptance of the FEA, “The Commission expressed a preference for the View Enhancement Alternative, which the Applicant will pursue as the project moves forward.”  This is inconsistent with the FEA as written.

The developers are also scheduled to come before the Commission on May 23, 2017 to request a Special Management Area permit for the luxury project. The Plaintiffs have asked Environmental Court Judge Joseph E. Cardoza to grant a temporary stay to stop the processing of this associated Special Management Area application until the court can hold a hearing on the Plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction against the Maui Planning Commission’s acceptance of the Final Environmental Assessment.

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Ho’oponopono O Makena is an organization that was formed to preserve and protect cultural and historic sites in Makena, including heiau, rock structures, shrines, ancient walls, pathways, and roads. The group’s mission is “to make things right” in Makena; they are interested in caring for the many historic sites in Makena with any other interested community members.

The Maui Tomorrow Foundation is an environmental advocacy organization serving as a watchdog for enforcement of Hawaii’s environmental and land use laws. For more information, please visit maui-tomorrow.org.

The Sierra Club Maui Group, part of the Sierra Club of Hawai’i, is one of the oldest and most effective grassroots environmental organizations in the islands. Founded in 1976, we currently have thousands of members and supporters volunteering to help people better explore, enjoy, and protect Hawai’i’s unique environment and wildlife. Learn more at mauisierraclub.org.

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SILENT AUCTION

Sierra Club Maui’s first Online Silent Auction opens Sunday, April 23rd at 12 PM and closes Saturday, May 6th at 12:15 AM.

Help support Sierra Club Maui and bid generously!

To view our online auction, visit https://www.32auctions.com/sierraclubmaui2017

In order to bid on items, you need to create a 32auctions.com account. Go to https://www.32auctions.com/users/new  to create an account.

Make sure to look at all 28 auction items by clicking on the green “View All Items” button at the bottom of the auction page. It looks like this:

 

 

Happy bidding and good luck!

If you have any questions about the auction, email sierraclubmauigroup@gmail.com

Take Action for East Maui Streams!

This action has now finished.

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Tell the state: we need a FAIR & HONEST Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the proposed A&B East Maui Stream lease.

Use the form below to submit your letter by Friday, March 10th.

Background Information

Why Does A&B need an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to divert East Maui streams?

  • Alexander & Baldwin (A&B) has requested a 30-year Water Lease from the HI State Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR).
  • The lease application, if approved as is, would give A&B the right to continue to divert East Maui streams flowing through four License areas on public lands, from Honopou to Nahiku.
  • Before a lease like this can be approved, BLNR requires an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) be commissioned.
  • The EIS is supposed to document all the ways the lease proposal could impact natural or cultural resources, and whether these impacts can be mitigated.
  • The BLNR then uses the EIS to determine whether or not to approve a lease.
Who should prepare the EIS?
  •  A&B has hired a consultant to prepare the EIS, but the leases are awarded through public bidding, and could theoretically, go to another bidder.
  • We can’t count on the EIS to have an impartial view if A&B hires, pays for, and directs the consultants who prepare this document.

Is the lease bidding process really fair, open and legitimate if A&B is the only bidder to have prepared an EIS?

  • With A&B in charge of the EIS process, the public cannot trust that the EIS findings will be complete because the consultant is first and foremost accountable to the entity that pays its bills, which is A&B.
  • Our communities have waited over 20 years for an EIS that discusses the real impacts of the longtime East Maui stream diversions. Let’s get it right!
  • We want the EIS to be as thorough as possible so that the BLNR will have adequate information to make a decision on whether to approve a lease for this area and, if so, what types of limitations or alternative options to a 30 year lease should be considered.

Send your letter to the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) staff asking them to direct the preparation of this EIS.

  • This will ensure that core parts of the EIS – the definition of the current environment and the identification of alternatives – be comprehensive and encompass all the possible outcomes for the management of these waters and areas.
  • This will also help instill trust that the completed EIS will be impartial and independent of A&B’s wants.
  • Your letter will be sent to DLNR, A&B and their consultant company Wilson Okamoto Corporation. You letter both requests a change to the process as well as gives comments on what topics must be covered in the EIS, no matter who writes it.
The EIS Preparation Notice for the proposed Water Lease is available at: http://bit.ly/2m55pZn
Comments on the EIS Preparation Notice are due by Friday, March 10, 2017.