Sunday, March 29, 2015

Comments on Koolaupoko Sustainable Communities Plan

The Koolaupoko Sustainable Communities Plan will have major impact on the Koolaupoko Moku for years to come.  I am shamed by the lack of a quorum at our March meeting that prevented the Board from making their recommendations. 

I submit the following comments.  It is based on the comments of the Koopokok Hawaii Civic Club with changes where I disagreed or want to amplify a point.  I want to emphasize these comment are submitted by a private citizen.  

Use this or any part of it in submitting your own comments.

Bill Sager at

Mr. George Atta, Director
Department of Planning & Permitting
City & County of Honolulu
Fasi Municipal Building
650 South King Street
Honolulu, HI   96813

Re: Comments – Ko`olaupoko Sustainable Communities Plan

Opening Remarks
While the Kaneohe Neighborhood Board appreciates your courtesy in extending the deadline for comments to April 1, I did not have a quorum at our March meeting so can not make recommendations as a Board. Therefrom I am submitting my comments as an individual.

Kaneohe is a unique blend of agriculture, business, residential and cultural/educational sites and opportunities.  The residents prefer a “local” feel and the businesses cater to the persona of the residents.  This small-town feel is what makes Kaneohe a special place and the residents here will tolerate modernization but not aggressive expansion or unregulated development.  

A good example of an expansion project is the Hawaiian Memorial Park.  While the I am not opposed to the cemetery per se, the proposed expansion seeks to create a change in the sustainable communities plan to eventually lead to the aggressive expansion of their business site.  In 2008/09, the same expansion project was proposed.  After considerable public discussion, the Kaneohe Neighborhood Board opposed the expansion.  The same arguments where expressed in our March 2015 meeting with a strong plea from community representatives not to allow the expansion.  I do not believe the heavy grading associated with expansion of the cemetery is appropriate in this mountainous terrain. I have to support the community in its opposition to expansion.  

My concerns are to maintain the small-town atmosphere of Kaneohe and the rural, agricultural nature of Ko’olaupoko.  I believe it’s important to respect the desires of the entire community, the Hawaiian culture and I want to see Kaneohe Bay restored to a near pristine condition both in terms of water quality, protection of our corals and restoration of the fishery.

Maps available at a scale usable for planning
I recommend the maps included in the plan be made available to the public at a scale which will enable public use of the maps for evaluating future plans and proposals. Maps should be available in the County GIS system and that system should be available to the public. A GIS layer should reflect traditional Moku and Ahupua’a’a boundaries.

Recycling centers
Recycling centers should be established in each moku. To the extent possible, each moku should be responsible for its own waste. Green waste should be composted within the moku and reuse of construction materials should be mandatory.

Urban growth boundaries and population distribution
I support those features of the Sustainable Communities Plan that will maintain a stable population in Ko'olaupoko. Proposals in neighboring moku’ s that would increase the pressure to urbanize Windward Oahu should be avoided.

I oppose converting agricultural land for housing.  I specifically object to proposed developments in the Luluku/Ho`omaluhia areas and the conservation/agricultural lands alongside Likelike Highway in Kane`ohe.

I oppose the development of five-acre agricultural lots in rural areas because in the past, these five-acre subdivisions have not been used for farming but are instead high-priced residential subdivisions. I recommend either adding the provision that 75% of the lot shall be active farmland and allow the rezoning of the remaining 25% for residences and out buildings at the discretion of the owner.

I are opposed to the provision in the plan that will allow agriculture zone properties adjacent to or partially surrounded by urban zoning to be included within the urban growth boundary.  I see this provision as a way to extend urban growth boundaries into our farm land.

I support establishment of a cultural preserve in Ha`iku Valley and restoration of lo`i kalo on 400 acres of state land at He`eia and on conservation easement lands at Hakipu`u and city land in Waikane. 

I support the connection between a Haʻikū Valley cultural preserve and a privatization and reopening of Haʻikū stairs that allows for managed public access in a controlled way.

I are concerned about the need to restore a number of fishponds in the Kane`ohe Bay region, and recommend that permitting requirements be adjusted to facilitate fishpond restoration; and that such fishponds should be restored primarily for food production purposes.

I request language concerning “ohana” designations for extended family dwellings – distinguishing true extended family dwellings from units that will be used for transient visitor accommodations or as boarding or care homes. 

Reconciling the top-down planning approach of the City and County with 
incorrect application of Hawaiian standards.
I recommend reconsidering the overall Planning approach to reconcile it with your references to “Ahupua’a” land use management practices and policies.  The Ahupua’a system cannot work effectively unless you incorporate a holistic philosophy and policy statement that reflects the traditional moku (district) boundaries and encourages grass roots planning decisions and stewardship actions utilizing this system.  

The Neighborhood Board system is a model of community-based management. DPP should make sure our communities are empowered to assist in the stewardship of their community resources and in the planning decision that will affect future resources and planning.  The opportunity you provided the Board to comment on this plan is a good example of this cooperation.  I am shamed the Board was not able to take action.

Preservation & Restoration of Historic and Cultural Resources in the Moku
I support preservation and restoration of all historic sites and cultural resources in Ko`olaupoko, with specific reference to the following sites:

Kawa`ewa`e Heiau (Kane`ohe)
Kukuiokane Heiau (Kane`ohe)
Naoneala`a (Kane`ohe)
Pu`uwani`ani`a Heiau (Kane`ohe)
Haʻikū Stairs (Kane`ohe)
Kanehekili Heiau (He`eia)
Kane a me Kanaloa Heiau (He`eia)
Kealohi/He`eia State Park (He`eia)
Kukuianiani Heiau (Waikane)
Ahu o Laka (Kahalu`u)
Kapapa Island (Kahalu`u)
Moku o Lo`e (He`eia)
Waikalualoko Fishpond (Kane`ohe)
Nu`upia Fishponds (Kane`ohe)
He`eia Fishpond (He`eia)
Kahouna/Kahalu`u Fishpond (Kahalu`u)
Moli`i Fishpond (Hakipu`u)
Apua Fishpond (Kualoa)
Kualoa Pu`uhonua (Kualoa)

I recommend that, to encourage preservation and restoration efforts, the City and County of Honolulu provide tax relief incentives to private landowners or entities engaged in restoration efforts.  I believe t private property owners who maintain historic sites for the public interest should receive tax relief, but I oppose the broad brush designation of homes of a certain age being declared historic sites.

Preservation and Protection of Agricultural Lands in Ko`olaupoko
I recommend and support the protection and preservation of all current and potentially viable agricultural lands in the moku of Ko`olaupoko, including but not limited to the following areas:

Luluku banana patch (Kane`ohe)
Hui Ku Maoli Ola Native Plant Farm (He`eia)
He`eia Itlands/lo`i kalo fields (He`eia)
Kahalu`u farmlands, varied sites (Kahalu`u)
Waihe`e farmlands, varied sites (Waihe`e)
Ka`alaea farmlands, varied sites (Ka`alaea)
Waiahole farmlands, varied sites (Waiahole)
Waikane farmlands, varied sites (Waikane)
Hakipu`u farmlands, varied sites (Hakipu`u)
Kualoa farmlands, varied sites (Kualoa)

Maintenance of Existing Commercial and Industrial Areas from Kane`ohe to Ka`alaea
I recommend that the existing commercial and industrially-zoned areas be maintained at existing levels.

Transit and Transportation Corridors from Kane`ohe to Kualoa
I recommend that Kamehameha Highway NOT be widened betIen Kane`ohe and Kualoa; our concern is that widening these roadways will facilitate increased development of agricultural and conservation lands in the Kane`ohe bay region.

I recommend that Kahekili Highway be improved through traffic signal timing and other improvements that do not require widening of this highway north of Haʻikū Road. Except that extending the existing width of Kahekili Hwy north of Haʻikū Rd for a few hundred feet would allow more vehicles to move through the traffic light and should greatly reduce the backup of traffic during morning commute.  Similar to Kamehameha Highway, our concern is that widening will lead to increased pressure to widen roadways north of Kahalu`u.

Kamehameha Highway in Kane`ohe and He`eia has seen increased traffic congestion over the past 20 years.  I recommend that traffic studies be required before any additional development is allowed. These studies can also identify existing traffic problems and recommend solutions. 

Traffic planning on Kamehameha Highway betIen Kane`ohe and Kualoa needs to incorporate the complete street concept.  In particular, incorporating a complete street design from the police station to Haʻikū Rd will have major benefit in terms of making Kaneohe a more livable community. 

There is currently no pedestrian access betIen Kane`ohe and Kualoa along Kamehameha Highway. I recommend language to address this shortcoming. The recent improvements to the shoulders on Kaneohe Bay Drive from Bayview Golf Course to the Mokapu Extension has vastly improved the safety for pedestrians and bicyclists, but this section of road is still a hazard for vulnerable users.  A separate bike path similar to the one established at Malaikahana would greatly improve safety for bikes, pedestrians and wheelchairs.

I request that language be inserted to call for addition of smaller, neighborhood-sized bus service to connect numerous Kane`ohe bay communities with the major shopping areas of Windward Mall, Windward City, and Times Shopping Center.  The area’s population of elderly is growing, many of whom cannot drive anymore and will require public transportation to gain access to commercial, community, or health services. This is one of the needs identified by community planners in recent studies.

I am concerned about the proposed transit center in Kaneohe.  The access from Kawa Street to Kamehameha Hwy is congested and difficult for buses to maneuver.  The provisions recently passed by the State Legislature permitting unrestricted development within a half mile of bus transit centers is an issue of great concern.  I do not want high rises in Kaneohe.

Water Supply for Kane`ohe Bay Region
I support the language in the plan relating to potable water resources for this region.

I request that language be inserted with regard to irrigation water resources to support farming in the nine Ahupua’a`a around Kane`ohe bay, specifically He`eia, Kahalu`u, Ka`alaea, Waiahole, Waikane and Hakipu`u.

Removal of Overhead Utility Lines
I request language to address the vulnerability of overhead utility lines between Kane`ohe and Kualoa, and recommend a plan to place these utility lines underground in a phased program over a period of time.  This would help address the vulnerability of these utilities to wind and storm conditions; and would improve the viewscape between the coastal areas and the mountains.

Maintenance of Streams.
I recommend the plan address the multiple problems related to permitting necessary to do stream maintenance.  I also recommend creating public/private partnerships that will encourage volunteers to work with the county in stream clearing.  Such partnerships could minimize the impact of heavy equipment used to clear stream channels.  This is particularly important in streams which have not be channelized.

Calling for Multi-Purpose Uses of School Facilities for Youth & Young Adults
The plan does not appear to adequately address the need for facilities where youth and young adults can gather for evening and weekend activities, other than sports activities at area parks and playgrounds.

Development on slopes over 40%
This is of concern because while it is safe to develop on some soils up to a 40% slope other soils can be unstable at 20%.  Development should be based on soils stability not on an arbitrary percentage.  40% should be a maximum subject to determination of soil stability.

Thank you for extending the comment period to allow the Kaneohe Neighborhood Board time to make these recommendations. I want to apologize for the Board failure to take action, and am submitting these comments as an individual.

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