Tag Archives: Oahu General Plan

Choon James: Open Letter to Chair Ernie Martin & Honolulu City Council – Bill 1

AN OPEN LETTER TO THE HONOLULU CITY COUNCIL  

Aloha Honorable Chair City Council Ernie Martin (District 2), Ikaika Anderson, Carol Fukunaga, Ron Menor, Kymberly Pine, Brandon Elefante, Ann Kobayashi, Trevor Ozawa, and Joey Manahan.

During the Primary Elections campaign for your seat, ALL four candidates – Robert Bobby Bunda, Dave Burlew, Choon James, Heidi Tsuneyoshi have publicly stated that they are for agricultural lands preservation. Particularly, at the Hauula Candidates Forum and the Kahuku Candidates Forum, the question was asked directly about Bill 1. ALL candidates stated that they were against the alleged 200 homes proposed on so-called “North Laie”. They were against expanding the community growth boundaries between Laie and Malaekahana, a subdistrict of Kahuku. Unless the candidates are lying to get votes, this reflects each candidate’s position.

Additionally, the most robust indication of the general population’s sentiments can be found in Senator Gil Riviere’s position on Bill 1 ( aka Bill 47 or Bill 53). Senator Riviere has consistently testified in person at City Council hearings in support of Bill 1 aka Bill 47 and aka Bill 53, without further amendments to expand the boundary growth into the agricultural Malaekahana area. Senator Riviere has been clear and precise. There is no ambiguity in his actions or words through the years as the Senator for this district. He most recently received a strong 67% of the public vote on August 11, 2018. This reflects a mandate from the people of this area.

During the past two short months that I myself have campaigned for your City Council seat for District 2, I received the same feedback from our residents.

While I could not quickly share the record of my decades old advocacy and civic activism to  garner enough votes in Wahiawa and Mililani Mauka this primary elections, I have again received the confirmation that our residents in District 2 and all over Oahu want to KEEP THE COUNTRY COUNTRY! And it’s not because they are against housing.

They do not want to see the entire island of Oahu paved over and turned into a parking lot. The other issue that is consistently brought up is the costs of living and traffic. Your residents are fed-up and up-in- arms about the Laniakea traffic that destroys their quality of life with daily frustrations and angst of traffic jam. Residents are fed-up with having to work two or three jobs to keep up with the rising fees, taxes and other costs.

From Kahalu’u to Hale’iwa, our small communities are connected by the 100 year old 2 lane Kamehameha Hwy. They are angry that the politicians who supposedly represent them are not considering the carrying capacity of infrastructures in our rural communities and yet continue to lure more and more tourists into the area. They are not happy that farm lands are disappearing and displaced with homes that they cannot afford. No one is against housing but most are leery of gentrification where the most affluent will chase the less affluent out of this region.

As you know, the Ko’olauloa Sustainable Communities Plan has been in limbo as Bill 47, Bill 53 and Bill 1 for the nearly past eight (8) years that you have been in office.

Many of us find it highly unfair and unethical for you, as it appears, to now want to push this Bill 1 through at the very last few months of your tenure as the City Council man for this district.

This Ko’olauloa Sustainable Communities Plan has been in limbo for nearly 8 years; what’s the problem with waiting for a few more months for the new city council member to more fully address it. After all, your staff, Heidi Tsuneyoshi, city council member-elect, has publicly stated her position AGAINST it at various public forums during the campaign.

I submit that there are more questions than answers to the latest Hawaii Reserves, Inc  (HRI) proposal in Bill 1. It has not been veted by the community of Laie or at large. Residents-at-large are opposed to sacrificing their quality of life to appease the economic goals of HRI. This include many residents of Laie.  If I were the council member-elect, I would engage directly with the residents first, without HRI or its staunch supporter LCA, present.

Laie residents have relevant questions like whether it’s fee simple or leasehold, rental or outright ownership?

Who will be eligible for these homes? Laie or Ko’olauloa region?

What is the price?

What are the terms and conditions?

Is there a buyback clause?

Is there a surrender clause?

What other developments and amenities are in the works not yet revealed and so forth.

Because Mr. Eric Beaver of HRI refused to provide pertinent specifics in writing, who is to say that “affordable housing” could not be cancelled again in the future? It happened in 2008 after HRI raised the hopes and dreams of Laie residents for decades:

“Feasibility estimates pose an unacceptable risk at this time,” Beaver said in the statement. “Cost of the entitlement process, current market and political conditions, moderate community support, and other nearby residential development plans were key factors in our decision to stop the project.

Beaver told The Advertiser yesterday that a combination of factors would have resulted in homes that would cost more than the citizens who were to benefit from it could pay.”

As a matter of public policy, BIll 1 cannot be solely for Envision Laie. Laie is not an island. It has to be ENVISION KO’OLAULOA or even ENVISION NORTH SHORE because Hale’iwa, Pupukea, Sunset Beach, Kahuku, Lai’e, Hau’ula, Punalu’u, Kahana, Ka’a’awa, Kualoa, Wai’ahole, and Kahalu’u are all connected by the same arterial 100-year-old 2-lane country road named “Kamehameha Highway”. The multiplier impacts of this public policy that contradict the existing Oahu General Plan and the Ko’olauloa Sustainable Communities Plan are severe and significant.

Furthermore, may I respectfully urge you to leave a wonderful legacy of protecting the welfare and happiness of our Residents First. My campaign platform of placing a cap on property taxes for local residents who have lived in their homes for 15 years or more is urgently needed. Our senior residents who live on fixed income and social security are afraid of being priced out of house and home. They want to be able to pass on their generational home to their children. This can be done if there is political will. California had their Proposition 13 in 1978. What are we waiting for?

During the course of the campaign, your staff  and candidate Heidi Tsuneyoshi also quickly adopted my idea. I consider imitation as the best form of flattery.  Certainly, there must be consensus and recognition at this point in time that this is a much-needed action to take to protect our residents. I would be most happy to work with you and all our city council members to begin this process.

I sincerely wish you well in your future endeavors and compliment you for running for the highly-contested race for House of Congress. Please adopt Bill 1 as originally proposed by City Councilman Ikaika Anderson on January 2017 or defer Bill 1 to 2019 for the new city councilwoman-elect Heidi Tsuneyoshi who has stated her opposition to this recent new amendment on her campaign trail.

Mahalo!

Choon James

ChoonJames Hawaii@gmail.com

Choon James has been a successful small businesswoman for 30 years. She’s happily married to her PhD husband for 40 years and mother of four Eagle Scouts and one princess. She has been a long-time community advocate for good government and private property rights. She has also been an activist for Environmental, Social, and Economic Justice. She also works on their family organic farm. She self-financed her recent City Council campaign with no funds from lobbyists or corporations.

 

Oahu General Plan Provides Diversification & Sustainability

Ko'olau Region Larry McelhenyPublished March 5, 2015 Civil Beat http://www.civilbeat.org/2015/03/oahu-general-plan-provides-diversification-and-sustainability/

Who can quarrel that “diversification” is essential for long-term dividends and sustainability?

Within a typical business portfolio, diversification mixes a variety of investments as part of a risk management strategy.

Similarly, the Oahu General Plan provides such diversification by designating regions like Ko’olauloa as “rural country”, counter balancing high-density regions regions like urban Honolulu.

In fact, Hawaii is the only state in the Union that has an over-all comprehensive land-use plan and designations. The “Hawaii State Plan” HRS §226 – aim for wise use of Hawaii’s resources and to guide future development of the State. It includes providing a basis for determining priorities and allocating limited resources, such as public funds, services, human resources, land, energy, water, and other resources.

On the county level, the “General Plan” is a requirement of the City Charter.  The desirable future for the Island of Oahu is organized through deliberations on the long-range social, economic, environmental, and design objectives for the general welfare and prosperity of the people of Oahu.

This General Plan balances eight (8) different diversified regional plans for the island of Oahu.

  1.        Primary Urban Center
  2.        Central Oahu
  3.        Ewa (Secondary Urban Center)
  4.        East Honolulu (Urban Fringe)
  5.        Ko’olaupoko (Urban –Fringe)
  6.        Ko’olauloa  (Rural)
  7.        North Shore (Rural)
  8.        Waianae (Rural)

 General plan map

The Oahu General Plan designates Ko’olauloa  as RURAL where “agricultural lands are preserved for agricultural uses,” with “the ‘ahupuaa concept as the organizing basis for land use planning and natural resource management in Ko’olau Loa.”

It further specifies that Koolauloa’s natural resources and predominantly “rural” character should be maintained by allowing only limited development in established communities, and that agricultural lands along the Windward be maintained for diversified agriculture. Open space and view planes are also valued.

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Bill 47 –  Mayor Mufi Hannemann/Caldwell’s Footprint:

The current Bill 47 is the 2010 Hannemann/Caldwell Draft of Koolauloa Sustainable Communities Plan (KSCP).  This 2010 Hannemann/Caldwell KSCP Draft contradicts  the values and vision as outlined in the 1999 KSCP , the Oahu General Plan, and Hawaii 2050 Plan.

Mayor Mufi Hannemann unilaterally inserted the new subdivision at Malaekahana  into the 2010 KSCP Draft just before he resigned to run for the 2010 gubernatorial race. His Managing Director Kirk Caldwell became the Acting Mayor.

This Hannemann/Caldwell 2010 Draft created much friction and push back from Ko’olauloa residents.

Moving the Community Growth Boundary to Malaekahana for 875 homes, a regional commercial center, industrial, technology parks, schools, and vacation cabins on 900 acres (now 300) of agricultural lands obviously violates the KSCP and Oahu General Plan.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell Follows Mufi’s  Footsteps:

Mayor Kirk Caldwell continues his support for a new subdivision in Malaekahana based on alleged “overwhelming support for affordable housing and that it could be provided by HRI” and that “Envision Laie is a long range proposal to grow the Brigham Young University of Hawaii (BYUH) and associated support services.”

Furthermore, Caldwell also supports the highly controversial Koa Ridge and Ho’opili subdivisions by arguing it is in the Oahu General Plan that was initiated in the 1970s.

Factually, the rural KSCP that they chose to violate has also been in the same Oahu General Plan since the 1970s! He cannot decide when to wave the Oahu General Plan card or when to ignore it.

Honolulu Rail and the “Keep the Country Country” Rationale.

KTCC photo

Mayor Kirk Caldwell and other rail advocates have repeatedly urged residents to support the Honolulu Rail   in order to “Keep the Country Country” (to  contain urban sprawl by concentrating development along the 21-mile rail corridor).

This rationale for the Honolulu Rail and Transit-Oriented development in order to “Keep the Country Country” continues to be marketed today.

We now respectfully ask Mayor Kirk Caldwell and others to be consistent and to walk the talk.

City Council Zoning and Planning Chair Anderson Corrects the Course:

We are heartened that the City Council Planning & Zoning Committee Chair Ikaika Anderson has amended Bill 47 to now conform to the letter and spirit of the existing KSCP and the Oahu General Plan.

This is a welcome action on many different levels.

This Honolulu City Council has the opportunity to stem the divisiveness and pilikia amongst Laie residents and the entire Ko’olauloa moku on this issue alone.

The common complaint has been that Mayor Mufi Hannemann offered special treatment to Laie due to his close affiliations.

Envision Ko’olauloa, not  Envision Laie.

These amendments, that many see as positive, to remove Malaekahana from the KSCP Draft will turn a page and heal the rift and angst.

Wai2

The City Council’s pono leadership to make things right will help restore respect  and neighborliness along the Ko’olauloa region.

Above all, it will present new opportunities for hopeful residents to explore realistic goals for personal temporal well-being instead of depending on HRI’s perennial enticements that have not come to fruition in decades. The carrot stick of “affordable housing   is dangled whenever Zions Securities/HRI needs community support for its own profit schemes. Imagine, if the faithful hopefuls had bought homes 20 years ago, their mortgage would have been nearly paid off today.

Adhere to the Oahu General Plan:

The Oahu General Plan is not perfect but it provides land-use diversification and sustainability for our small island home.

If the State and County land use principles are adhered to, much of the divisiveness can be easily avoided and communities can turn attention to collaborative projects that benefit the majority of the public.

The City Council’s correction of this controversial deviation from the General Plan will set a pono path for the future of Ko’olauloa.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell on a Rampage

Woman Criticizes Honolulu’s Government, Has Her Protest Signs Bulldozed

Nick SibillaNick Sibilla, Contributor   

How people respond to criticism can reveal a lot about their character.  Some might try to debate or reason with those they disagree with.  Others prefer to ignore critics.  City officials in Honolulu take a different approach: They use a bulldozer.

Choon James is a successful real estate broker with over two decades of experience in Hawaii.  But the city of Honolulu is seeking to seize property she’s owned for almost a decade to build what she calls a “super-sized” fire station in rural Hauula.

Since January 2010, she has put up signs to protest Honolulu’s use of eminent domain.  These signs declare “Eminent Domain Abuse: Who’s Next?” and “YouTube Eminent Domain Abuse—Hawaii.”  For more than three years these signs have been up without any incident.

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But now the city is showing a callous disregard for Choon’s freedom of speech.  Back in May, Honolulu seized two of her eminent domain protest signs.  Without her consent, city employees went onto the property and seized and impounded her signs before damaging them. Even worse, the city slapped her with a notice for trespassing, for property she is trying to defend in court.

After these signs were torn down, Choon placed three more signs there.  These lasted just a few months before the city once again seized the signs.  This time, Honolulu was much more dramatic.  On October 18, city workers, backed by police officers, squad cars and a bulldozer, came by and literally bulldozed those protest signs.

The city’s actions show a shameful lack of respect for the First and Fourth Amendments.  Citizens have a right to protest government actions.  The First Amendment was enacted precisely to protect citizens who criticize the government from retaliation.  Lawsuits challenging Honolulu’s unreasonable seizures and chilling attacks on free speech are now pending in federal court.

Unfortunately, Honolulu is not alone in trying to silence critics who question eminent domain.  The Institute for Justice has represented citizens in St. Louis, Mo., Norfolk, Va., Tennessee, and Texas who protested abusive property seizures and faced censorship.  Out of these four cases, IJ successfully defended free speech in three cases, while the fourth is currently in litigation.

After 24 of his buildings were taken by St. Louis, Jim Roos painted a giant mural on a building he owned advocating “End Eminent Domain Abuse.”  But St. Louis labeled the mural an “illegal sign” and wanted to force Jim to remove the sign (and stifle his right to protest) or face code violations.  He teamed up with the Institute for Justice and sued the city.  In a major win for the First Amendment, in July 2011, the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Jim and allowed the mural to stay up.

In a similar vein, IJ has defended grassroots activists from a frivolous defamation lawsuit and protected an investigative journalist’s right to free speech from a vindictive private developer.

More recently, the Institute for Justice is suing the city of Norfolk for trying to squash a small business owner’s eminent domain protest sign.  The Central Radio Company, a repair shop, has been in Norfolk for almost eight decades.  But Norfolk had plans to seize the property with eminent domain for a private redevelopment project.

To protest, owner Bob Wilson displayed a huge banner on-site.  The city responded by telling Bob he had to take down the sign or face fines of up to $1,000 per day.  Fortunately, the Virginia Supreme Court unanimously struck down the city’s attempt to seize Bob’s land; his free speech case is still infederal court.

As the cases make clear, courts routinely respect Americans’ First Amendment rights.  Honolulu should do the same.

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Postscript: Mayor Kirk Caldwell also shut down the owner’s business with Reynolds Recycling on October 21, 2013. Public push back forced the Mayor to cut a deal with Reynolds to return to the adjacent city Lot 64 on December 20, 2013. The Caldwell Administration did not disclose that it is on a month-to-month lease. Should the Mayor gets permission from the courts to condemn, the last two commercial zone lots will be decimated and recycling business  gone.
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The only valid reason for Mayor Kirk Caldwell to shove this extra expensive fire station onto this small rural community is he owes a plum building contract to a donor!  The Mayor  wants to build a huge Kapolei City station in the small rural town of Hauula.
The Mayor can be contacted at mayor@honolulu.gov    808 768-4141
City Council Chair Ernie Martin  at emartin@honolulu.gov   808 768-5002
Choon James at ChoonJamesHawaii@gmail.com   808 293 9111