Council committee again pans Travalino for Leeward Planning Commission

  • Mark Travalino speaks to council Planning Committee Jan. 19, 2021 via Zoom

It was deja vu Tuesday for Mark Travalino, who once again faced a County Council Planning Committee opposed to his appointment to the Leeward Planning Commission.

The committee voted 5-4 to forward a negative recommendation to the council, with North Kona Councilman Holeka Inaba, Kona Councilwoman Rebecca Villegas, South Kona/Ka‘u Councilwoman Maile David, Puna Councilman Matt Kaneali’i-Kleinfelder and Hamakua Councilwoman Heather Kimball voting no.

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Travalino this time was appointed by Mayor Mitch Roth, but his appointment wasn’t any more successful in 2011, when he was appointed to the same commission by former Mayor Billy Kenoi. That year the vote was 7-2 against him.

“Mr. Travalino’s vast knowledge and experience in construction and community development is an asset to both infrastructure and urban development,” Roth said in his nomination letter to the council.

Dissenters Tuesday said they’ve heard from constituents concerned that Travalino, a field representative Laborers’ International Union of North America, Local 368 Hawaii, would be the second union representative on the seven-member commission.

“I do believe we all have the ability to be objective,” Inaba said, “but with strong union representation already on the Leeward Planning Commission, I feel I have a kuleana to try to keep things balanced, if only by appearance.”

Villegas said constituent concerns center around “this Leeward Planning Commission already having strong representation from the union side and wanting to make sure we have a more diverse group of people representing our community on the planning commission.”

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Travalino, who just completed a five-year term on the Board of Appeals and also served on the Kona Community Development Plan Action Committee, said he’s learned a lot during his 31 years on the island. His children, who love to surf, complain about coastal development that’s led to erosion, he said. Still, he said, infrastructure needs to be improved and affordable houses need to be constructed.

“You might think I’m a pro-development person, but I’m not,” Travalino said. “There’s good development out there and there’s bad development and there’s over-development.”

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