A Housing Question on Maui

Nov 23, 2015

Olowalu
Credit Eileen Chao

As Maui's population continues to grow, so does the need for housing.  A proposed development in West Maui could go a long way in meeting some of the island's housing needs, but some say the tradeoffs aren't worth it.  Eileen Chao has more from The Maui News.

The project has been in the works for nearly a decade, but now opposition has grown.

More than a hundred people packed a crowded auditorium last week to testify before the state Land Use Commission.  The LUC is considering the project's final environmental impact statement.  The developer wants to build a “small town” at Olowalu, about four miles south of Lahaina.  The town would span about 620 acres.  It would include fifteen hundred homes, hundreds of potential ohana units, stores, schools and parks.

Supporters say it would help alleviate some of the island's need for housing.  But some who've lived in the area their whole lives say the project would do more harm than good.  They questioned how many local families would be able to afford homes in the new development.  They were most concerned about the reef just offshore Olowalu.  That reef is recognized as the largest and healthiest reef system around Maui.

Project documents state that impacts to the reef will be mitigated, but residents aren't convinced.  They want the project stopped altogether.  The state Land Use Commission has until Dec. 9 to approve the environmental impact statement.