Many of the citizen boards charged with advising the county on planning issues are getting by with holdover members whose terms have expired, and two don’t have enough members to make quorum, but progress is being made, Planning Department staff told a County Council panel Tuesday.
The Community Development Plan action committees and the Kailua Village Design Commission came under greater council scrutiny in March after Planning Director Zendo Kern said the department was taking a “pause” in filling positions for three to six months while they take a hard look at how the boards can best be used.
That concerned Kona Councilwoman Rebecca Villegas, who asked for the update.
“I hope today Mr. Kern will be more specific and more forthcoming,” Villegas said. “County code says members shall be appointed by the mayor. … Why were the general public and County Council not informed? … Are legal requirements being met?”
Hilo Councilwoman Sue Lee Loy, on the other hand, backed the administration.
“I thought it was wise and brilliant for this administration to take a look at the boards and commissions and the areas we could improve on,” Lee Loy said. “It’s not about hitting the pause button, but to make sure it’s actionable.”
Kern, for his part, said his earlier comments may not have been understood.
“How it was perceived was not accurate.”Kern said. “Communication is always very challenging. … Simply put, we’re moving forward, we’re operating and I take responsibility for these communications.”
The administration is prioritizing how to fill positions, said April Surprenant, manager of long-range planning. First priority is to fill the two CDP committees — North Kohala and Puna — that don’t have enough members to make quorum and therefore can’t meet or act. The second priority is to fill vacancies on other boards.
Then, the final priority is to find candidates to replace sitting members whose terms have expired.
The Kona CDP has eight holdover members and one vacancy. The Kailua Village Design Commission has seven holdovers, one vacancy and one new member.
The CDP action committees are community-based stewards of the community development plan to guide, promote and ensure plan implementation and updates.
The island’s six regional action committees implement the CDPs that direct physical development and public improvements and may contain detailed land use and zoning guide maps, plans for roadways, parks, other infrastructure and public facilities, planning for watersheds and natural resources and any other land use matters relating to the planning area.
The commission, within the Kailua Village Special District, provides an architectural and design review of applications requiring plan approval and all planned public and private improvements and makes recommendations to the Planning Director.
It also reviews sign permits and variance applications and makes recommendations to the Director of the Department of Public Works.
Big Island residents interested in applying for a board or commission can find an application here: https://www.hawaiicounty.gov/our-county/boards-and-commissions
Email Nancy Cook Lauer at email@example.com.