Published in The Maui News, July 10, 2016
By DON COUCH, for The Maui News
The spotlight is on the Philippines this week for an international urban planning conference, and Maui County will play a role.
As chair of the Maui County Council’s Planning Committee, I accepted an invitation to speak at the 2016 International Conference on Urban Development. The conference takes place Tuesday and Wednesday at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza, within the Cultural Center of the Philippines complex in Pasay City, Manila.
The conference theme is “Accelerating Resilience and Inclusive Growth.” More than 1,200 attendees are expected, including urban development experts from all levels of government, the private sector and academia throughout the world.
The conference is a project of the U.S. Agency for International Development, under its program called Strengthening Urban Resilience for Growth with Equity, or “SURGE.” The five-year project was launched last year to help cities in the Philippines plan better, create more competitive business environments, link urban and rural centers so that more citizens benefit from rapid economic activity and provide health and other social services.
The International City/County Management Association is helping to implement the SURGE program. The Maui County Council, through Chair Mike White, joined the ICMA last year. Puerto Princessa, Maui County’s sister city for the last 17 years, is a participating municipality in the SURGE program.
As requested, my presentation will feature studies on Maui County’s efforts at long-range planning and an overview of state and local land use laws. I will discuss how zoning ordinances can be used to implement infrastructure objectives and economic diversification.
I will also report on Maui County’s experience with approving various elements of the Maui County 2030 General Plan update, including the Countywide Policy Plan, the Maui Island Plan and the recently approved Lanai Community Plan.
In addition, I will discuss policies on affordable housing, preservation of open space and municipal finance.
Other partners of the conference include the United Nations-Habitat, World Bank, National Competitiveness Council and the Philippine Department of the Interior and Local Government. The lead conference organizer is the Asia Society for Social Improvement and Sustainable Transformation, or “ASSIST Asia,” which is fully funding travel for speakers such as myself.
Based in the Philippines, ASSIST Asia is a nongovernment organization that focuses on international capacity-building projects with a reach of more than one million people across 20 countries. Details about the conference are available at assistasia.org/2016urbandev.
I will look forward to bringing back information and tools for possible use in Maui County. Please check my page at mauicounty.us/couch for updates.
Upon my return, the Planning Committee will get to work on the Molokai Community Plan, which has not been comprehensively updated since 2001. Committee members have already been reviewing submitted proposals and comments from the Department of Planning, the Molokai Community Plan Advisory Committee and the Molokai Planning Commission.
In addition, the Planning Committee is awaiting the findings and recommendations of the Lanai, Maui and Molokai planning commissions on bills that would enact new ordinances on vacation rentals.
One bill would revise Maui County Code provisions for bed-and-breakfast homes and short-term rental homes to add requirements and timelines for enforcement of violations related to advertising of unpermitted operations. Another bill would require that an applicant for a short-term rental home permit own the subject property for at least five years, subject to certain exceptions.
The bills were sent to the planning commissions by Resolutions 16-93 and 16-94, respectively, which were adopted by the council on July 1 as recommended by the Planning Committee.
Don Couch is chair of the council’s Planning Committee. He holds the council seat for the South Maui residency area. “Chair’s 3 Minutes” is a weekly column to explain the latest news on county legislative matters. Go to mauicounty.us for more information.
# # #