Wednesday | July 26, 2017
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County to free paper tiger from bureaucratic cage

Hawaii County will have to dust off an ordinance establishing a cultural advisory commission for Wednesday’s County Council meeting.

The ordinance creating the county Cultural Resources Commission went into effect in July 2008, after a council vote the previous year, but the body has since existed only on paper.

Council Chairman Dominic Yagong said he wants to bring the issue into the “light of day,” and has proposed a few amendments to spur council discussion.

The commission was created to preserve Hawaiian history and culture by providing guidance to county, state and federal governments on cultural issues and encouraging preservation of historical sites.

Joaquin Gamiao, county planning administrative officer, said the county is still trying to fill the commission’s positions. He attributed the delay to trouble getting people with the right backgrounds to volunteer.

“It’s hard to get commissioners,” Gamiao said, noting 36 vacancies on county boards. “It’s hard to get people that involved.”

Gamiao said Mayor Billy Kenoi has urged the Planning Department to get the commission in place.

“Maybe last spring, we realized this is coming up,” Gamiao said.

Kenoi couldn’t be reached for comment Monday.

The commission’s duties, among others, would be to advise government agencies on historic preservation, review projects affecting historical locations, and establish a county historic preservation planning process.

The nine-member panel would include people with backgrounds in Hawaiian culture, history, architecture and archeology.

Yagong’s bill would also require a member to be knowledgeable in precontact burial practices. He is also proposing amending the ordinance to require the commission to advise the state historic preservation officer on management of burial sites.

Maui and Kauai counties also have similar commissions.

Gamiao said the county will soon be advertising the vacant positions on all boards.

Applications can be dropped off at the mayor’s office, the Planning Department or Corporation Counsel, he said.