Homes and buildings burned to the ground in Lahaina after wildfires in western Maui, Hawaii. Patrick T. Fallon / AFP via Getty Images file
Rebuilding hasn’t even started after a deadly wildfire destroyed the historic town of Lahaina, Hawaii, last month, but residents are already angry and frustrated with recent moves by Gov. Josh Green that are making them question initial recovery efforts.
The distrust in the government is opening deep wounds within the Native Hawaiian community, which fought for generations for a share of the state’s natural resources after sugar cane plantations and tourism made claims to land and water.
Now, they say, that pattern could be repeated with the aid of an emergency proclamation signed by Green that could erode their hard-won rights, despite his reassurances that rebuilding would reflect the needs of Maui residents.
The first proclamation, signed several weeks before the wildfire, declared a state of emergency over the state’s housing shortage and suspended environmental and cultural reviews of proposed development projects.
It also suspended Hawaii’s open-meetings law, making it difficult for people to speak out against construction proposals they oppose. The suspension is scheduled to expire Friday.
Green plans to release an updated proclamation with changes based on feedback he has received, spokesperson Makana McClellan said.