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About the Planning Department

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The Planning Department

The Planning Department provides technical advice to the Mayor, Planning Commission, and County Council on all planning and land use matters. The Department is also charged with the administration of the Subdivision and Zoning Codes. The major divisions of the department are Administrative Services, Administrative Permits, Long-Range Planning, Planning, and West Hawai‘i.

Planning Department Mission:

To foster an improved quality of life for the island of Hawaiʻi’s communities through responsible and progressive planning.


Planning Director, Michael Yee


Michael Yee brings experience in urban planning, community development and housing grounded in cultural and historic preservation. He believes building trusting relationships leads to impactful collaborations in communities. Michael is a strong advocate for government to play a leading role in social justice and equity issues.

Michael earned a Bachelor of Arts, College of Architecture and Urban Planning at University Washington and a Master in Business Administration, Albers School of Business at Seattle University.


Acting Deputy Director, April Surprenant

Acting Deputy Director, April Surprenant

April Surprenant has been a community planning professional in both the public and private sectors for nearly 30 years.  She has 10 years tenure with the County and was previously the Manager of Long Range Planning overseeing the regional Community Development Plans, the island-wide General Plan, and the Coastal Zone Management Program.  April utilizes her diverse background and education in planning, architecture and real estate and is adept at intertwining various elements of these disciplines.


Planning Department Divisions

Administrative Services

Administrative Services Division provides:

  • Overall direction, control and coordination of the Department and its programs
  • Advises the Mayor and Council on planning matters
  • Provides support graphic and clerical services to the divisions within the Department
  • Manages the Geographic Information System (GIS), and Geothermal Fund programs
  • Street naming and address assignments

Administrative Permits

The Administrative Permits Division administers permitting requirements of the Zoning and Subdivision Codes where the Planning Director is the decision maker:

  • Plan approval
  • Variances
  • Subdivision approval
  • Ohana and farm dwellings

The Admin Permits Division is also responsible to enforce provisions of these codes, and addresses complaints and violations.

Planning Division

The Planning Division administers the permitting requirements of the Zoning Code, State Land Use Law, Coastal Zone Management Act, and General Plan where the Planning Commission and/or County Council are the decision makers:

  • Use Permits
  • Special Permits
  • Special Management Area (SMA) Use Permits
  • State Land Use Boundary Amendments
  • Rezoning
  • General Plan Amendments
  • Shoreline Setback Variances

Long-Range Planning

The Long-Range Division is responsible for:

  • Legislative Review and Testimonies
  • General Plan Amendments
  • Code and Rule Amendments
  • Community Development Plans
  • Ordinances and Resolutions
  • The Land Use Inventory
  • Consultant Services Contracts

West Hawai‘i Division

The West Hawai‘i Division handles many of the same responsibilities as those of the other divisions, but particularly as they apply to the Kona, Kohala, and Ka‘ū districts.