Kihei, HI- You could feel the excitement in the air as over a dozen men and half again as many trucks marched onto a residential lot in the heart of the Waimahaihai District with an arsenal of equipment. Workers donned masks and gloves to fight back years of underbrush that had grown from the house itself out into the pavement of Waipahe Street.
There is an old African saying that, “It takes a village to get raise a child”. Perhaps you could also say, “It takes a village to live in a nice one.” The clean-up is the culmination of a concerted effort between the WDNA, the Maui County Fire Department and Councilman Don Couch’s office. The abandoned property at 185 Waipahe Street in the heart of central Kihei has been an eyesore and a safety hazard for many years. The long-abandoned residence was the subject of controversy in 2012 when squatters moved in with a phony lease, and began making a ruckus in the place. Neighbors called police, but they had difficulty verifying that the owners had not rented to the poser tenants, as the mainland owners have been difficult to contact.
Until today, the same property posed a different threat: public health & safety. A tree had fallen in the front yard and rodents and feral animals have taken nest there. The underbrush had grown over the property’s front easement and into the street. There was so much dry brush in the back against the fenceline that neighbors on all sides were concerned about a brush fire. Yet, with Maui county code honoring the privacy and individuality of its property owners, it took concerted work of a team of WDNA members six months of diligent effort to arrive at the day when the property could be assessed by Maui County, a contract to go out to bid, and the work to be scheduled for clean-up.
Councilman Don Couch along with Paul Haake, Captain of Maui’s Fire Prevention Bureau were both instrumental in helping us navigate the way through the complex process of serving a complaint against the property, gaining verification and the agreement of the Maui Fire Department that the property was indeed a hazard, and tracking Maui County as they sent notifications of “due diligence” to clear the way for the work to be done.
President of the WDNA, Kevin Curry met with Councilman Couch and expressed his concern about living in a non-gated community in Maui County. “I don’t want to be forced to move into a community with CC&R’s [Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions] due nonexistent or unforced county living standards. The WDNA is drawing the line in the pavement. Our residents love Waimahaihai, and want to keep living here. As Maui continues to develop, so does the need for it’s county codes and the resources to enforce them.” The Board of the WDNA will continue to work with Don Couch’s office to forge a relationship where community living standards are clear, the process of enforcement is straightforward, and the model set forth by the WDNA can give benefit to the rest of the residents of Maui County.