Senator Angus McKelvey (Senate District 6, West Maui, Mā‘alaea, Waikapū, South Maui) and Representative Elle Cochran (House District 14, Kahakuloa, Waihe‘e, portions of Wai‘ehu and Mā‘alaea, Olowalu, Lahaina, Lahainaluna, Kā‘anapali, Māhinahina Camp, Kahana, Honokahua) sent a letter to Governor Josh Green urging him to abandon the hard date of October 8th for the reopening of tourism to West Maui.
The letter states that the consensus amongst the two legislators and their constituents is that the planned reopening of West Maui for tourism is “too much, too soon.” The letter also implores Governor Green to listen to the Lahaina community in regard to the reopening strategy, as the Governor has repeatedly stated that he will listen to the community when it comes to rebuilding.
“Reopening to West Maui visitors should not be done by setting hard dates and opening up the floodgates at one time,” said Senator McKelvey. “Rather, it should be a measured process that moves in phases,”
“By assessing the phases of the reopening as they occur, we can move with the flexibility and sensitivity our community desperately needs. While we understand that the economy of our district has been tourism driven, many of us are still trying to process the damage the wildfire has caused.
“We must recognize the volatility of the situation here on the West Side. For the health and wellbeing of our friends and families, we must delay reopening to tourists. Let’s fully get our people into stable housing before opening our doors en masse to others.”
Representative Cochran said: “I stand in support of a phased approach for the return of tourism. “I foresee a new kind of Tourism that is based on a voluntourism concept. I will push for an Aloha Aina, eco-culturally supportive diversified economy moving forward into our future.”
In addition to urging the Governor to delay the reopening date, the legislators also used the letter to urge Governor Green to: use the $200 million of general funds provided by the Legislature to extend direct unemployment assistance to workers and grants for affected small businesses; advocate for a three-year moratorium on foreclosures in Lahaina; and expand the eviction moratorium to small businesses by including commercial properties.