Tag Archives: Honolulu

Important Agricultural Land (IAL) Project – Honolulu

             Identifying “Important Agricultural  Lands” IAL Project

Some landowners of ag-zoned parcels in Oahu received the “ NOTICE TO AFFECTED LANDOWNER IMPORTANT AGRICULTURAL LANDS (IAL) PROJECT” dated December 29, 2016 from the Honolulu City and County’s Department of Planning and Permitting.

That December 29, 2016 letter was probably the first time that many landowners had heard about “IAL”.

Two meetings were made available to the public. One was held in Kapolei and the other was on January 17, 2017 at the Hale‘iwa Elementary School Cafeteria.

IAL MAP

Why is the city doing this IAL Project?

Scott Ezer, the consultant hired by the city and county, framed the impetus for this IAL Project as follows:

To ensure that the best of Oahu’s high-quality farm land is protected and preserved for long-term agricultural use – great lands, for great Oahu farms. The term “Important Agricultural Lands,” or IAL, is a State land use designation that identifies high-quality farm land to be protected and preserved for long-term agricultural use. In compliance with the State law (Hawai‘i Revised Statutes, Chapter 205), the City and County of Honolulu Department of Planning and Permitting (DPP) is conducting a mapping project to identify lands on O‘ahu that meet the statutory requirements for consideration as IAL. DPP is seeking input from landowners, farming interests and residents about the type of land to include in O‘ahu’s future inventory of agricultural land. The maps produced as a result of this effort will be submitted to the Honolulu City Council for review and adoption by resolution, before being sent to the State Land Use Commission for final approval. “

Questions:

If the intent was to “promote agriculture and the conservation of productive agricultural lands in the State”, why exclude the 1,555 acres of fertile Aloun Farms (Ho’opili) which contributed 30% of greens to Oahu and has 4 –season plantings.

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Why exclude 760 ag-zoned acres in Koa Ridge?

If its intention was to allow tax credit and incentives, why not offer to ALL farmers?

Does IAL appear to favor the large landowners?

What happens to the 50% of the large landowners’ agricultural lands that CANNOT be designated as IAL?

What happens to all the other agricultural lands that are NOT designated as IAL?

Why are some steep agriculture lands designated as IAL while other fertile lands not designated as IAL?

Why were some landowners not initiated by DPP while others were?

Why is DPP now unilaterally placing small ag-zoned landowners into this IAL Project instead of allowing the small land owners to opt into this IAL Project?

Contradictions:

There are contradictory premises in this process. The following opens a little window into some background of this IAL Project:

“According to people familiar with the legislation, this limitation was a last-minute addition that undermines the intent of the act and the need to protect contiguous blocks of land. The Hawai`i Chapter of the Sierra Club noted on its website, “The final bill… contained an 11th-hour amendment – inserted at the behest of large landowners – which prohibits the state from designating more than 50 percent of any landowner’s farmland as ‘important’ unless they request it be designated as such. The Sierra Club believes that the final bill falls far short of what was envisioned by the state constitution and will fail to provide adequate protection for Hawai`i’s important farmlands.”

The Land Use Research Foundation (LURF), which often represents the interests of large landowners before the Legislature, did not respond to inquiries about the 50 percent limitation by press time. However, the measure undoubtedly gives LURF’s constituents who want to develop their ag lands more flexibility. For example, in its 2006 annual report, Alexander & Baldwin notes that of its 59,320 acres of agricultural or pasture lands and 29,270 acres of conservation lands 8,700 acres have “urban potential.” Hawaii Environment Report Feb. 2008.

Written comments can be submitted until March 31, 2017 to:

HHF PLANNERS

Re: IAL Mapping Project

733 Bishop Street, Suite 2590

Honolulu, Hawai‘i 96813

mapoahuagland@hhf.com.

 

Tune in to Country Talk Story – Olelo Channel 54 Sundays 4:00 pm during February to listen to the January 17, 2017 IAL meeting.

Choon James can be reached at 808 293 9111 or ChoonJamesHawaii@gmail.com. www. CountryTalkStory.com

OAHU HOMELESS CRISIS – A Modest Proposal

Tents line both sides of Olomehani Street in Kakaako near the Ohe Street intersection. 30dec2014 photograph Cory Lum/Civil Beat

So much effort and financial resources have been spent on mitigating this housing issue here in Honolulu.

 I wanted to share my private story as a young girl in Singapore, relating to housing.

 Long story very short, my mother’s father warned her not to spend time with the popular and handsome guy in the Holland Road neighborhood. My maternal grandfather was an affluent business trader. My paternal grandfather was also an affluent businessman and community headman. But my young mother ended up eloping with my father; later to find out he already had a wife and children. He would later add a third wife.

My maternal grandfather disowned her; my mother was too proud to seek reconciliation or for help with her children. The father and daughter would reconcile decades later.

 I was the seventh child but I don’t remember my father in my early childhood days. He must have visited us at least ten times; I have seven brothers and two sisters!

Mother became a washerwoman – a human traveling washing machine. She was intelligent and spirited but did not attend school because her very traditional father thought it was a “waste of rice” to send daughters to be educated. (In fact, Grandfather was so traditional that when he died, he left all his assets to his first born son only.)  I always thought that, if my mother were formally educated, she would have been a great partner with the former Lee Kuan Yew, the Founding Prime Minister of Singapore. They were so much alike.  She was very intelligent, spoke many languages, a natural leader, but unlucky with her love life.

I remember living in a rural attap house in my early years.  It was supposedly haunted. No one dared to live there so my father moved our family into that house.

attap-house(This is a similar style attap house but minus the vehicle. We had no cars.)

We had the best childhood. We were poor but we didn’t know we were poor. My stomping grounds were up in the big tropical trees and exploring the rural surroundings. We walked miles to the public school. Kind neighbors gave us their daily newspapers after they were done.  My mother raised pigs, tilapia, chicken, and vegetables. We used a community water well and had an outhouse.

On the other side of our rural neighborhood were huge beautiful concrete homes with indoor plumbing, huge bathtubs, ceramic tiles, and beautiful landscaped yards. These homes were usually occupied by foreign executives or foreign journalists based in Singapore.

When fire burnt our attap house down, we had to relocate.

We moved into this Lengkok Bahru flat below.. The unit was very small – a living room, one bedroom, a small cooking area and one bathroom. It was probably about 700 square feet. It was a corner unit on the fifth floor. The eleven of us moved into that cement block. It was a big adjustment for us.

lengkok-bahru-b-61(This building has always been well maintained. The elevator shaft is a new addition. This is at least 45 years old.)

My assigned sleeping space was on the back open “patio” where my sisters and I slept on the concrete floor. I remember growing out of it when my feet and my head eventually touched the ends of that patio space.

The rent was very cheap; I believe it was 25% or less than what my mother earned as a washerwoman.

The Singapore government provided inexpensive units like these to provide public housing. Singapore was transforming from a third world country then.

Although it was congested; we made do. My mother focused on our education. Although my father was an alcoholic and chain-smoker, none of us emulated him. She took charge of her children’s welfare.

None of us dared to misbehave or become delinquent because she was strict, supervised us, and expected much of us. While other neighbors sent their children to work at hawker stalls or other minimal wage jobs; she sent us to schools. We participated fully in the public school extra-curricular activities. We were avid readers. One of my favorite memories was receiving free reading materials from the American Embassy in Singapore. The printed materials ranged from biographies of American Presidents to Will Rogers to Chief Sitting Bull.

My brothers and sisters all became educated. My first and second brother did not pursue university education so they could support their younger siblings. They became a public school teacher and policeman respectively. The rest went to college and obtained professions like Human Resource Executive with a top American firm; a top executive of the biggest firm in Singapore; a Navy Captain; television business news editor and so forth.

I spent a chunk of my childhood years at the public housing (about ten years) till I left Singapore at the age of seventeen to attend college in Hawaii.

Why am I sharing this personal story?

Life would have been so much more difficult for our family if we did not have an affordable and safe roof over our heads.

We never had to worry about having a roof over our heads. We never had to worry whether the police or county workers will seize our tents or personal papers at 2:00 in the morning.  Although it was congested living; our housing was safe and sanitary. That little unit allowed us to feel secure and focus on other pursuits that bettered our lives and allowed us to contribute to society.

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There is obviously no one silver bullet to solve homelessness in a mostly “cash” economy.

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Homelessness is a complicated and multi-faceted issue. Other various solutions, such as counseling, educational and social support are also needed to address this.

But, we urgently need honest and efficient leadership at City Hall. Incumbent Mayor Kirk Caldwell is failing. There is too much politics and “pay to play” involved.

There is, no doubt, a continuing need for the services of the many non-profit groups that offer counseling and related services. Funds that are ear-marked for addressing such issues must be spent as such and not mismanaged or plundered.

Ultimately, the primary and long-term solution to homelessness boils down to a roof over the head, whether it is in a mental support institution or an ordinary lodging.

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One way is to build simple, safe and permanent living quarters and to efficiently manage and maintain them in perpetuity for those in need. Certainly it should never evolve into a generational dependence but these housing resources must be available in a humane society like ours.

So-called partnering with private developers to provide a certain percentage of “affordable units” for 30 or 60 years is inadequate and short-sighted. It’s bad public policy planning.

What will happen in 60 years?

 The costs of living in Oahu will surely rise and the housing problem will only get worse.

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There are supposedly many real estate holdings owned by the State and City along the proposed 21-square mile Honolulu Rail Transit Corridor.

Why not solidify and consolidate the resources and build affordable rental units now? We have seen high rise buildings appear like mushrooms in Honolulu. Why not focus on affordable rentals now?

 Providing  and maintaining affordable rentals in perpetuity will help solve a big part of our homeless problem in Oahu.

Note: Some photos are taken from Public Domain. Mahalo.

Pomp and Circumstance – Graduation, Hawaii Style

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/choon-james/hawaii-graduation-class_b_5155632.html

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High school and college graduation ceremonies are coming up. Educational institutions throughout the islands are gearing up for another festive season to celebrate academia, endurance and achievements.

Part of the fun is seeing the types of leis (garlands) showered upon the graduates at the close of a graduation ceremony.

Besides the traditional beautiful flower leis, other styles and materials depend partly on the culture and personality of the creators!

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But, first, a Tongan or Samoan mom may stake out a welcome mat for the special grad:

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Or if mom is about impending hunger, she will also provide bento lunches for families and relatives who attend the ceremony. This is not counting the big luaus in the next few days or so.

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Balloon leis appear to be in vogue!

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This “soda lei” around the neck probably weighs as much as an albatross.

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We should be impressed by this “quick lunch lei” — saimin noodles, popcorn and lunchmeat! (I was told I missed the bread loaves and the toilet paper roll leis!)

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Then there’s the coveted Wall Street headgear for her:

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And for him:

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Candy, chips and other tropical foliage leis are now an integral part of Hawaii graduations.

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Whew! Professors and teachers are off the radar screen. Gone are the midnight raids on the vending machines, last-minute cramming, churning out research papers and projects, asking miracles to inspire an empty mind during exams, juggling social and academic responsibilities, handling love dramas, coming up with solutions to save the world in an hour, and a million other things. The rigors and academia chapter will close. Another exciting chapter will begin.

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Whatever type of lei is bestowed upon the graduate, the celebration is: You did it!

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What is the vision for Kaka’ako Makai, Honolulu?

This is a photo circulating in facebook. It explains the situation clearly.  Many Hawaii residents are perturbed that Senate Bill 3122 will allow the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA), a state agency to develop residential high-rises within Kaka’ako Makai (ocean-side) – Honolulu’s last remaining public shoreline area, where residential development is now prohibited by law.

Kaka'ako Makai

SB 3122 will be heard by the House Committee on Water and Land on Monday, March 10, 2014 at 8:45 am

Anyone can submit testimony via http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/login/login.aspx
Hawaii’s Thousand Friends presents a clear and logical summary for its opposition to SB 3122:
“SB 3122 SD2 seeks to exempt OHA, now owner of several Kakaako Makai parcels, from the 2006 law which prohibited residential development of land makai of Ala Moana Boulevard between Honolulu Harbor and Kewalo Basin.Residential development in Kakaako Makai was banned by the legislature after massive citizen protests against an A&B proposal to construct several 200-foot condo towers there.
HCDA law §206E-31.5…prohibits the authority from: (2) Approving any plan or proposal for any residential development in that portion of the Kakaako community development district makai of Ala Moana Boulevard and between Kewalo Basin and the foreign trade zone.
From 2006 to 2010, in a planning process called by HCDA, people came together to guide the development of the Kakaako Waterfront for the benefit of not only the Kakaako community but for all the people of Hawaii. (4/6/11 staff report)
The result was a conceptual master plan for Kakaako Makai with 9 components, including park expansion/enhancement and waterfront access via parking and traffic circulation measures

Now, SB 3122 SD2 proposes to undo the prohibition of residential development in Kakaako Makai. This must not be allowed because

Kakaako Waterfront Park is one of the last strips of open space and parkland with public access to the shoreline along the urban Honolulu coastline.

With 30 new high-rise towers proposed for Kakaako Mauka and a projected population of 30,000+, there will be a need for this open park space

Kakaako Makai offers open access to shoreline fishing, diving and popular body boarding and surf sites, as well as a waterfront promenade, picnic areas, and significant panoramic views.

OHA knew of the residential restrictions when they accepted the Kakaako Makai property, but now wants to develop 4 or 5 condo towers.

In 2006 when legislators prohibited residential development in Kakaako Makai, with only 1 lawmaker in each chamber opposing, it was evident that the legislature had spoken. Are legislator’s votes only good for 8 years? “

SB 3122 SD2 Status: Hawaii Community Development Authority – Allows the OHA state agency to develop residential high-rises within Kaka’ako Makai ( oceanside) – Honolulu’s last remaining public shoreline where residential development is now prohibited by law.   
Introducer(s): GALUTERIA, DELA CRUZ, HEE, KAHELE, KIDANI, SOLOMON, Baker, Espero, Kouchi, Nishihara, Shimabukuro, Wakai
Measure Title: RELATING TO HAWAII COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY.
Report Title: Hawaii Community Development Authority; Residential Development
Description: Authorizes residential development on certain specified parcels of land owned by the office of Hawaiian affairs in Kakaako. Requires applicants for residential development to hold a public hearing regarding a plan or proposal for residential development in Kakaako and consider all written and oral submissions from the hearing prior to submitting the plan or proposal to HCDA for approval. Requires HCDA to hold a public hearing and fully consider all written and oral submissions received at the hearings held by the applicant and the HCDA prior to approving any plan or proposal for residential development. Establishes a Kakaako makai association fee and Kakaako makai special account to fund various public services and projects in Kakaako. Exempts the Office of Hawaiian Affairs from section 206E-12, HRS, regarding the dedication of public facilities by developers as a condition of development in Kakaako. 

What Would Dr. Martin Luther King Think of Honolulu Mayor’s Behavior Today?

What would MLK think of Honolulu’s Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s  Persecution of the Poor  and  Civil &  Free Speech Rights today?

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The houseless people continue to be harassed and penalized.

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Citizens who push back are exposed to the Mayor’s strong arm tactics of raiding free speech signs and bullying in the courts, courtesy of  the city’s scarce fiscal resources.

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Is Honolulu any better than the  Montgomery, Alabama of 1955 where those in office abused their power and bulldozed over civil rights because they could?

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The physical segregation of race may appear to be over . But the segregation of  social classes – the rich & powerful versus the poor & the unconnected  – remains very problematic.

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Many are involved in the fight for justice and equality in Hawaii.

As MLK said,

Injustice  anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

just cause needs many helping hands and willing hearts!

Every one is needed.

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What would MLK say about the events of today in Honolulu?

 

 

ALOHA! Mayor Kirk Caldwell! We are rural Hauula, not Kapolei!

Why is the Mayor  hell-bent on building a SUPER-SIZED fire station in rural Hau’ula?

Why does Kirk Caldwell want to build a SUPER-SIZED fire station in rural Hau’ula?

This is the “Ewa Beach” style fire station he wants to build in rural Hauula. This station is so big that you cannot photograph the building in one photo!

 

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Ewa Beach Fire Station ( Photo 1 of 3)

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Ewa Beach Fire Station ( Photo 2 of 3)

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Ewa Beach Fire Station ( Photo 3 of 3)

The city purchased Lot 64 in 2010 – it can relocate the existing Hauula Fire Station today!

But Kirk Caldwell is bullying to further condemn adjacent Lot 65 for DOUBLE the lot size and TRIPLE the price – to build his SUPER-SIZED Kapolei station in this rural region!

Lot 64 of 20,297 sq. ft is very sufficient to build these stations below.

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Kaneohe Fire Station

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Ka’a’awa Fire Station

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Kahuku Fire Station

 

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Sunset Beach Fire Station

 

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Wahiawa Fire Station

Why does Kirk Caldwell want to build a SUPER-SIZED fire station in rural Hau’ula?

Why does the Mayor want to pave over the last two remaining business-zoned lots in rural Hauula?

Why is the Mayor abusing the weight of the city to shut down private Reynolds Recycling in this small rural community?

Does the Mayor understand the difference between Ko’olauloa and Kapolei?

Can taxpayers fiscally fund all of Kirk Caldwell’s pet projects?

Are taxpayers happy with rising taxes and fees?

When will Mayor Kirk Caldwell advocate for his constituents and exercise fiscal prudence instead of bullying and spinning to get what he wants?

If you were the Mayor of Honolulu, what would you do?

Choon James can be reached at ChoonJamesHawaii@gmail.com  Phone:  808 239 9111

 

 

Honolulu Mayor’s Disjointed Leadership Could Render Kahuku Golf Course Into Oblivion

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/choon-james/honolulu-mayors-disjointed-leadership_b_4113950.html  Posted: 10/17/2013 12:15 pm

                             

                           Oahu’s Kahuku Municipal Golf Course Could Disappear

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It’s Oahu’s best kept secret that the Kahuku Municipal Golf Course was never owned by the City and County of Honolulu.

The city leased the pristine grounds that included sandy beach frontage, sand dunes, and plantation-era graveyards as a ‘municipal’ golf course. Unknown to most, this ‘public’ course has been on a month-to-month lease for many years.

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The 122-acre beachfront course opened in 1937 through the sweat and toil of the plantation camp workers, on land owned by the Estate of James Campbell.
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There is nothing ostentatious about this nine-hole walking golf course except the setting is peaceful and it provides inexpensive recreation for locals of all ages. Users enjoy it without much ado or fancy expectations from the City and County. As Oahu continues to grow, the need for such open space will become more acute, not less.

When the Campbell Estate dissolved its 107-year-old Trust and conducted a fire sale of its assets, this ‘municipal’ golf course was a part of a private bulk purchase by Continental Pacific, LLC in 2006. Continental Pacific, LLC (CP) focuses on acquiring large tracts of real estate and reselling them for profit.

Although a few local activists had raised concerns about losing the ‘public’ course at that time, neither Councilman Donovan Dela Cruz nor Mayor Mufi Hannemann seized the opportunity to ensure that this ‘public’ golf course remained in public hands.

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Acquiring the historic Kahuku Golf Course and the Plantation Camp Village would have been the right direction to take.

The city has a history of land-banking property for future parks and saving historical plantation camps to avoid massive social disruptions and homelessness. Also, this iconic region is a golden goose for Oahu’s tourism industry. There are compelling reasons to preserve the open space and rural charm of this region.

The 2008 financial crisis created a severe downturn on the economy that dampened many real estate ventures. There was a lull in flipping real estate for profits.

Having missed the first wave sale from Campbell Estate in 2006, the city could have stepped up to acquire the Kahuku Golf Course when Continental Pacific, LLC predictably listed the Kahuku Golf Course for $10 Million in 2011.

Continental Pacific, LLC had no buyers then.

It listed again at $11,495,000 on Oct. 15, 2012 offering financing terms with “Cash, Open, Private Mortgage, or Seller Financing.”

It was unfortunate that city hall again failed to capitalize on this subsequent window of opportunity to put in Golf Course in public hands. It was not that the City Council Chair Ernie Martin didn’t try.

In April 2012, Honolulu City Council Chair Ernie Martin, Budget Chair Ann Kobayashi, and the Council unanimously adopted and funded Resolution 12-089 — urging the Mayor to initiate the acquisition of the land beneath Kahuku Golf Course.

Then-Mayor Peter Carlisle and current Mayor Kirk Caldwell both declined to cooperate with the City Council.

In September 2013, the public learned that CP was negotiating a purchase with a Chinese investor for the Kahuku Golf Course.

City Councilman Ernie Martin explained that the mayors considered the situation “a private matter that the county should not get involved in.”

The public submitted petitions to preserve the course to Mayor Kirk Caldwell with no success.

On Oct. 10, 2013, Mayor Caldwell’s representative to the Ko’olauloa Neighborhood Board — Justin Gruenstein, former campaign chair for ‘Hannemann for Congress’ — tried to explain Caldwell’s non-performance. Gruenstein attempted to soft-sell that it would be too expensive to own the course and bring the golf course up to city standards. The city had no money.

Thus, acquisition of the $11 million 122-acre beachfront golf course that has been in public domain since 1937 was off the table! Gruenstein stated the approved funds would revert to the City General Fund.

The public’s response to Gruenstein’s excuse was “baloney.” The city could land bank. The city owned many properties that were not maintained nor fixed up to city standards.

It’s outrageous to see Mayor Caldwell’s arbitrary responses towards issues with great consequences.

On one hand, Mayor Caldwell insists that the city has no funds to upgrade the Kahuku Golf Course upon acquisition and Continental Pacific is a ‘private property owner’ he should not involve the city with.

On the other hand, this same mayor is threatening, including eminent domain abuse, the owners of a small privately-owned lot of 20, 300 sq. ft. in Hau’ula, just ten minutes south of the precarious golf course to build his pet $13 million fire station relocation project.

Additionally, next to the golf course sits the Kahuku Plantation Camp, also acquired by CP, that is facing massive evictions. Generations of plantation workers and their posterity are facing controversial evictions.

The City Council adopted and funded Resolution 12-90 to prevent this massive social disruption and homelessness in this 71-home compound. But again, Mayor Kirk Caldwell refused to collaborate with the council by fiddling the same arbitrary tune of respecting Continental Pacific as private property owners.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s constituents tend to conclude that his non-performance could be due to the fact that the attorney — Lex Smith who is representing Continental Pacific, LLC – was also his mayoral campaign committee chairman in 2012. The mayor denied any influence.

It’s tough to figure out Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s logic and his fiscal priorities. Honolulu deserves fact-and-merit-based collaboration with its citizenry in order to ensure that everybody wins.

It would be a travesty for Oahu if politics will render the Kahuku Municipal Golf Course into oblivion.

The mayor can be contacted at 808 768-4141 or mayor@honolulu.gov.

“Keep the Country Country” Protects Kama’aina Families

‘Keep the Country Country’ Will Protect Kamaaina Families

 

Many islanders are passionate in the cause to “Keep the Country Country” from Kahaluu to Haleiwa. There are countless good reasons to preserve the rural charm and finite resources — watersheds, waterways, forestry, agriculture, farms, animal husbandry, open space, view planes, cultural values, tourism, and lifestyle — of this region.

Another good reason to keep the country country is to preserve the economic viability and stability of kamaaina families, many of whom have lived in this region for generations.

This precious region lures land investors far and wide. Through their public relations mercenaries, they try to label the “Keep the Country Country” movement as “a vocal minority group of ornery haoles with NIMBY problems” or “people who are shutting the gates after themselves.”

However, the developers’ smear tactics are fast crumbling. The public can now clearly see the negative impacts of big developers playing out in Kahuku.

Today, the Kahuku Plantation Village of about 70 houses is in turmoil. Many are facing eviction from homes they’ve stayed in their entire lives. The sweat and equity of these inter-generational laborers; along with their heritage and roots are tied to this plantation camp.

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The entire Honolulu City Council, under the leadership of Chair Ernie Martin and Budget Committee Chair Ann Kobayashi, has allocated sufficient funds for the city to stem massive homelessness and social disruption by acquiring the plantation camp in cooperation with a non-profit group to manage it. But Mayor Kirk Caldwell refuses to respond to the pleas of the plantation residents or the wishes of the city council.

Who will win and who will lose in this high stakes game of profits and survival?

What is occurring at the Kahuku Village Plantation Camp has happened elsewhere and can be quickly summarized in one word — “Gentrification”.

In a nutshell, gentrification is the compressed evolution of massive development in communities that produces “winners” and “losers.”

It’s obvious the “losers” are usually the less affluent.

Gentrification chases the less affluent out of their communities due to the influx of new money and spending power. The less affluent are unable to pay rising rents, property taxes, real estate and the accelerating costs of living. Local businesses may lose their leases under competition or have to keep up with newly built commercial spaces with higher built-in expenses. Development will provide short-term construction jobs to some but what happens next?

Gentrification can alter lifestyle, values, and identity of communities when left unchecked. It inevitably creates disconnect and conflicts in communities. In Hawaii, it’s become a volatile struggle to protecting the local culture and values, environment, finite resources, and a chosen island lifestyle that many hold dear.

Fortunately, Oahu has had a visionary General Plan since the 1970s under the leadership of then Gov. George Ariyoshi. Oahu was divided into eight different geographic areas, delineating different land-use policies that include Primary urban center (Honolulu), Secondary urban center (Kapolei), Urban – fringe (Koolauloa Poko), and Rural designations (Koolau Loa, North Shore, and Waianae).

This Oahu General Plan is a careful compromise to preserve what we hold hear about Hawaii and to address development.

To prevent urban sprawl and inevitable gentrification, decision makers must respect and adhere to the existing Oahu General Plan. There has to be a line of demarcation to safeguard viability and diversity in land-use decisions for Oahu. If we don’t stand for something, we’ll fall for anything.

This Oahu General Plan that protects the Koolau Loa and the North Shore’s charm of old Hawaii, finite resources, food security, watersheds, open space, recreational spaces, view planes, rural lifestyle, and especially the stability of kamaaina residents, must continue to be the basis for objective Big Picture land-use planning. Decision makers must not allow big developers to hijack and amend this document to fit their own agenda.

“Keep the Country Country” — from Kahaluu to Haleiwa — is an integral part of needed diversity and versatility for a thriving and sustainable Oahu. This cause has never sounded so pragmatic and urgent for this iconic region as the first shoe of gentrification drops in Kahuku. “Keep the Country Country” is not about the past; it’s about the future.

About the author: Choon James has been a real estate broker for over twenty years. She’s lived in the North Nhore for over 30 years. She served on the Koolau Loa Sustainable Communities Planning Advisory Committee and hosts “Country Talk Story,” the most-watched public television program on Olelonet in 2012.