Based on Pamela Tumpup’s most recent (2/20/2010) The Chamber View column, I think we can sum up the Maui Chamber of Commerce’s view of the draft Maui County General Plan as relax, don’t do it. Let’s address her beefs and/or suggestions:

  • The draft plan is aspirational – Of course. This isn’t North Korea. The County hopes to achieve balanced economic growth, and encourage an improved quality of life. On the other hand, Ms. Tumpap complains that the document micromanages business interests. This is incorrect. In short, the plan hopes to prevent the County from turning into a grimy mess. But, there’s easy money en route, so she objects to any detour. In fact, Many of the proposed “implementing actions” explicitly support small business and the visitor industry. But, I’ll bet she blanched at the policy to put a time limit on development entitlements, currently valid indefinately.
  • Pamela suggests detailed plans for any new services, but it’s not clear if she wants them inserted into the general plan, or is just restating what the County government already does.
  • No population projection – This is incorrect.
  • There is a no-growth overtone to the plan – This is incorrect. It does seek to limit the addition of visitor rooms, but not overall growth.
  • Collaborate better with the visitor industry – Tourism accounts for 39% of Maui’s economic output, vs. 19 to 29% of the other counties, so there has obviously been plenty of collaboration already. The plan looks toward economic diversity. To allow room for diversification, it seeks to prevent unlimited proliferation of visitor rooms, while improving and broadening the experience for visitors filling the existing room count.
  • Build greater flexibility into boundaries – I’m sure the concept of urban growth boundaries is at the top of the Chamber’s shit list. It’s a key concept for smart growth, and maintaining the qualities that make Maui a desirable spot to vacation and live. If there’s anything in the plan the County needs to maintain a hard line on, it’s this. The County has a history of being free with zoning variances, and if it holds to that m.o., it might as well not set any limits to begin with.

This “Chamber View” isn’t evil, it just reflects the fact that just about any County planning policy will tend to conflict with the CoC memberships’ laissez-faire ideals. I’ll pray that the County council keeps this in mind as they review the draft General Plan.

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