I send my thanks to Mark Hyde, Maui-Tomorrow Executive Director Irene Bowie, and Kihei resident Daniel Kanahele, who have received the name of "Interveners," and rightly so.
They are intervening on behalf of the Kihei community--its residents, small businesses, the environment and our lifestyle--in their legal pursuit to halt the Pi'ilani "Mega-Mall" that slipped in unannounced.
Mark, Irene and Daniel have been diligent and tenacious in their position, despite the lack of respect shown by the mayor, his administration and the developer. The county filed a motion asking the state Land Use Commission (LUC) to limit further public testimony. It was denied by the LUC.
The mayor also used two issues--increasing jobs and improving our economy--to placate the community and divert the attention of how Eclipse Developers were non-compliant with existing conditions of the LUC, and never wanted to meet with the community. The non-compliance issue and banning public testimony are more than legality. It is taking away citizen's rights to voice their opinions as to what and how their community grows. Why have a growth plan if it isn't adhered to?
Jobs and economy are misconceptions, as clearly explained by Richard Mayer, an expert witness in community planning and economics. Mr. Mayer testified at the Nov. 16 hearings: "Mayer characterized light industrial use as one that would provide full-time, well-paid jobs to local residents and ownership opportunities to local businesses. Retail use, he said, might provide many jobs, but they would be low-wage positions that were likely to be part-time and provide few benefits to employees. He also claimed that monies generated by the shopping centers would mostly benefit off-island owners and that an influx of big-box tenants would be detrimental to the existing locally owned small businesses in Kihei" (Maui Weekly, Nov. 22, "Evidentiary Portion of LUC Hearings Concludes," www.mauiweekly.com/page/content.detail/id/510603/Evidentiary-Portion-of-LUC-Hearings-Concludes.html?nav=13).
Another misconception I hear is that these stores will bring diversity. The diversity of options, choices to buy at cheaper prices, to be branded with someone else's name other than our own, is mythologizing these "Mega-Malls," when, in fact, the opposite is true. We are becoming a homogenized society. These corporate behemoths offer a "one-size-fits-all" look, whether you're in Hawai'i, the Mainland, Europe or China.
The "Mega-Malls" have taken away diversity and local economy that already exist--the diversity of little boutiques, local businesses, mom-and-pop shops that have been there for decades or generations, years of hard-earned money recirculated locally, and legacies passed on to their children and their future generations. Products indicative of their culture, their land and their heritage are disappearing.
Contrary to beliefs about increasing economy, providing jobs, and that growth is necessary, "Mega-Malls" are eroding our values, citizen's rights and environments. Skirting rules of law and zoning, these powerful corporations increase their profits at the expense of local economy, people's welfare and the environment.
Wherever you go on the planet, the import-export of retail chains is choking our communities, and rural land of little towns and villages, linking the world in a consumerism fence. Mega-malls, box stores are retail chains are strangling the world of diversity and individual business ownership.
This commercialism presents a local- global challenge: How can globalization allow for diversity? How can small businesses stay alive and thrive within the suffocation of retail commercialism? How can we serve and satisfy the diversified needs, desires and visions of individuals and communities? How do we preserve and complement the environments and cultures we live in?