Media Groups Demand End to Closed Grand Wailea Resort Contested Case Proceedings
Wailuku, Maui — Media organizations and journalists, through their Maui attorney Lance D. Collins, have submitted a written demand that the Maui Planning Commission’s contested case proceedings related to the Grand Wailea Resorts proposed expansion be reopened the public. The Grand Wailea Resort is seeking permission to remodel and expand its operations within the Special Management Area before the Maui Planning Commission.
Three Native Hawaiian community groups, Malama Kakanilua, ooponopono o Makena and Pele Defense Fund were granted intervention in the proceedings and the Commission appointed Maui attorney Linden Joesting as the hearings officer. On May 7, the hearings officer issued an order denying that the proceedings were required to be open to the public, reaffirming an earlier decision that the proceedings move forward regardless of the COVID-19 emergency or the stay at home orders on the basis of needing to “get the administrative law work of the County done.”
Relying upon First Amendment caselaw protecting the press’ right to access adjudicative proceedings, the media groups have noted Hawaii’s long tradition and experience of open access to contested case proceedings especially related to land use.
“There has been a total disregard for the rights of the public and the press to access and observe this important case. We sincerely hope the Commission reconsiders this decision immediately,” said journalist Victor Gregor Limon.“This time of emergency does not justify government secrecy. The Resort is certainly not entitled to have their permits fast-tracked behind closed doors while public gatherings are banned and also excluding the press,” said the media groups attorney Lance D. Collins.