Expansion at Kapalua gets some support from council
By HARRY EAGAR, Staff Writer
Thursday, December 08, 2005 12:14 PM
WAILUKU – Maui Land & Pineapple Co. got favorable votes on a community plan amendment
and project district designation for Kapalua Mauka on Wednesday, but the County Council Land
Use Committee voted 5-4 to strip 250 possible time-share units from the proposal to expand the
Kapalua resort by 690 residences.
The committee did not finish reviewing conditions to be attached to the zoning ordinance but
hopes to do so at a meeting at 1:30 p.m. Monday in the Council Chambers.
On the first two bills, the votes were 6-3, with Council Members Jo Anne Johnson, Michelle
Anderson and Danny Mateo voting against.
On the project district bill, Riki Hokama introduced a motion to remove all short-term rentals
from the proposed ordinance, and he got the votes of Johnson, Anderson, Mateo and Chairman
ML&P Executive Vice President Bob McNatt said the loss of the option of short-term rentals
would not kill Kapalua Mauka. But he said, “It will make it interesting to see how viable some
of our long-term recurring revenue stream will be.”
He had explained to the committee that the hotel business can be divided into “hot, warm and
Hot beds – ordinary hotel rooms or time shares – tend to get new customers every week or so
and also tend, McNatt said, to generate more business at related activities such as restaurants,
and more jobs.
Warm beds are occupied by the same parties for a few weeks at a time. And cold ones are used
by owners for perhaps two weeks a year.
Part of the argument for Kapalua Mauka has been that its impact will be comparatively small for
the number of residences (which are fewer than the original project district total of 750).
Johnson said, however, that time shares are “intense” uses and would create traffic and use up
Hokama’s reasoning was different. He said he had always voted to maintain Maui’s main source
of jobs, but, “I don’t want to see this engine for growth any more dominant than it is today.
“I don’t want more expansion in the economic engine.”
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Kapalua Mauka is intended to round off and complete the Kapalua resort, over a period of about
15 years, which would then cap half a century of expansion of the resort.
Hokama said he interpreted the bid for the ability to build time shares at Kapalua Mauka as an
“end run” to build hotel rooms to replace older hotel rooms that are being converted to time
He came close to getting six votes for his amendment, as Mike Molina said he was “on the
fence,” although in the end he voted against it.
In the 6-3 vote to grant project district zoning, Johnson said she was “not going to support any
more development of this scale for primary tourism.”
In the 6-3 vote to change the community plan, Anderson objected to taking ag land out of
Mateo did not say why he was voting against the first two steps toward approval, but in a series
of meetings that began in July he has been unhappy about the affordable housing component. He
chairs the council Housing and Human Services Committee, which is meeting today to discuss a
county policy on affordable housing for new developments.
Wednesday, he tried to talk ML&P into agreeing to make its Pulelehua new town 51 percent
affordable. The 300-acre Pulelehua project has been tied to development of Kapalua, with
ML&P Chief Executive Officer David Cole saying it is needed to provide housing for Kapalua
What the minimum affordability requirement for Pulelehua will be is unknown – the state Land
Use Commission still is holding hearings on taking the land out of agriculture.
ML&P will be obligated to provide 173 affordables for Kapalua Mauka. It has said it will build
40 affordable rental units before starting Kapalua Mauka, on land it has that already is zoned
near Napili Market.
That leaves 133 to go somewhere else. The company’s plans call for those to be built at
Pulelehua, as part of a total of 450 affordable units there.
Mateo repeatedly tried to get McNatt to agree that the 133 Kapalua Mauka affordables at
Pulelehua would not be counted against making it 50 percent affordable. In other words, he was
shooting for making Pulelehua 65 percent affordable.
His committee has been looking at a range of options, requiring up to 80 percent affordable
housing on new projects, but there is no ordinance authorizing the county to specify how many
affordables Pulelehua should provide.
There is an employee housing ordinance for hotels, and its target is 25 percent.
McNatt said that after deducting the Kapalua Mauka share from Pulelehua, the result would be
about 30 percent affordable for that project.
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However, he cautioned that Kapalua Mauka “isn’t linked to Pulelehua.”
If ML&P cannot get permission to build Pulelehua, then it would either have to find other land
for its 133 Kapalua Mauka affordables somewhere in West Maui, or it would have to suspend
expansion once it uses up its first 40 credits – that is, after only 160 of the 690 units had been
Mateo was incredulous.
“What is Plan B if Pulelehua doesn’t go?” he asked.
Much later, Anderson also wondered about Plan B.
“I would think you have some idea” where to put the affordables if Pulelehua is not approved,
she insisted. “Are you going to tell me no?”
McNatt replied, as he had to a similar question last month, “We do not.”
The council members voting for Kapalua Mauka had little to say about why they supported it.
The most extensive comment came from Charmaine Tavares, who said, “I have been reflecting
a little bit on some past history.”
She said that when Maui County made the “conscious effort” to encourage a high-end visitor
industry, it “was a huge step.”
“It was an economic base we needed very badly. Lots of my classmates left, the class of ’61.
There was no future here.”
She noted that “the world changes, and we’re in the process of that change.”
The original visitor plant of resort hotels is no longer sufficient, she said.
Visitors want other choices, from time shares to second (or third or fourth) vacation homes.
The Kapalua Mauka proposal to build resort residences, with time shares or other short-term
elements, “is an extension of recent developments, the next iteration” of the visitor industry.
She was, at that point, arguing in favor of allowing the time-share/short-term rental component.
Although that was struck down, the elimination of time share from the mix does not reduce the
size of the project – Kapalua Mauka is still headed for 690 resort residences, if it can get
committee approval of its zoning request next week.
Any recommendation by the committee still will go before the full council for action, with two
readings required to approve each of the bills for community plan amendment and project
Harry Eagar can be reached at email@example.com.
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Copyright © 2005 The Maui News.
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