Dear Maui: Please don't let Joni Mitchell's prophesy, "They paved paradise and put up a parking lot," come true for South Maui. Please don't let California's Eclipse Development make our decisions for us, just because they have the money and power and want more. I started an awareness campaign of this gigantic mall, the Pi'ilani Promenade, a year ago, when I read a statement by the developer to the tune of, "We didn't ask for community input, but we're sure they'll like it."
Horrified by his arrogance and the fact that no one I talked to had even heard of the project, I started "ainaohanafirst," supporting development in South Maui that puts the needs of the land and our communities first. I started educating people in Kihei and asking for feedback and opinions.
And then the coup de gras came in The Maui News' front-page article on the Kihei mall project last Sunday, stating that though the community has voiced many concerns--economical, environmental, social, cultural, etc.--the mayor heartily supports the spring building of the mega-mall (outlets on one side, high-end shopping on the other, the biggest mall in Hawai'i!), though he (sheepishly?) admits he's never seen the plans.
Not to be outdone, the Eclipse Development owner outdid himself with another quip about the community--a challenge and an insult--which essentially amounts to, "Hey, if you have the $200 million to risk in this project, then you can make the decisions. Until then, community, you can shut your pie-hole." Great PR.
Sweet, small-town, green belt, walkable, 21st century design that honors this place and its past? No--the '80s mall has not yet died, as the huge mall will be dominated by a gorgeous view of an enormous parking lot, the likes of which will make Costco's look like the back woods.
And 1,200 jobs? They don't mention they're great minimum-wage jobs for teenagers. We need jobs that people can live on.
Blame the tourists? Ask them. I have. They come here because it's paradise, not to shop for another pair of shoes at the Bass outlet. They want to leave traffic, noise, clutter, congestion, business behind on the Mainland. They come here because it's freaking beautiful, to rest and relax and have some fun in paradise. They come here to enjoy the local businesses and restaurants, finding fun in the Hawai'i-ness of it all, in the exotic island local fun and stuff they can't find at home. And, frankly, we need the tourists. We survive on tourism.
Let's create living-wage jobs and quaint Hawaiiana at the same time and support locally owned businesses.
We owe it to Maui. We have an enormous responsibility here as kama'aina. Please visit my Website, learn more, print flyers, fill out a survey and sign a petition at ainaohanafirst.community.officelive.com/default.aspx.
Let's tell our leaders and developers what we want and what we will support with our money as consumers. We do have a say, Eclipse Development. Sorry to disappoint.