The ‘Ewa Development Plan is based on a more-than-thirty-year-old vision of a “second-city;” a new urban center in Kapolei and the ‘Ewa plains – long before “sustainability,” “urban sprawl” and “food security” were terms on people’s lips.
A plan for the future that is based solely on the past will not serve the present. In 1996, the ʻEwa Development Plan (EDP) was created based on a more-than-thirty-year-old vision of a “second-city;” a new urban center in Kapolei and the ʻewa plains. This vision was set during a time of booming development, long before “sustainability,” “urban sprawl” and “food security” were terms on people’s lips. No one then could have imagined the Honolulu we have today.
Hawaiʻi politicians have shown that they are unwilling to adapt to changing times, stand up to correct a mistake or change the out-of-date plan for Oʻahu’s future. At the Honolulu City Council’s July 10 third reading of Bill 65 (which endorses the EDP), councilmember Breene Harimoto said that he agreed with a lot of the testimony he heard (which was overwhelmingly against the bill) but essentially told the audience that the EDP ship had sailed years ago and that the council didn’t have much choice but to go along with it by passing Bill 65. The rest of the council apparently agreed as all nine members voted to pass.
The EDP sounds reasonable enough. It aims to keep the country, country “by providing a larger long-term supply of land for urban uses in the Secondary Urban Center and in the urban fringe areas of ʻEwa and Central Oʻahu, thereby avoiding the necessity of urbanizing lands in other areas - especially rural areas, such as the North Shore, which have limited infrastructure and/or environmental resources.” But it’s based on a premise that is no longer valid: That the need for more suburbs to house people is more important than preserving agricultural land.
3,300 is the number of acres the EDP sets aside for prime ag land preservation in the ‘ewa plains area. 8,700 is the number of acres set aside for residential development, retail and office development and industrial development in that same area. However, the “Urban Growth Boundary” (UGB), part of the EDP, extends well beyond that, allowing for further development down the road.
Take a look at a Google Map shot of Oʻahu. From Kahala to Waipahu is a solid block of urban sprawl. With efforts in place specifically designed to prevent further sprawl by “building vertical” in areas like Kakaʻako, how is it that the ʻEwa Plan still calls for the opposite?
The UGB extends past the Waipahu suburbs West along Farrington Highway and down throughout ʻEwa Beach and the ʻewa plain and North up the valley through Mililani all the way to Wahiawa and Schofield Barracks. This area totals an approximate 69.5 square miles; nearly the same as the approximate area from Kahala to Waipahu (71 square miles). This plan, therefore, would allow for a potential doubling of the amount of urban sprawl on Oʻahu while only reserving 5.1563 square miles (3,300 acres) of land for agricultural use.
The UGB is there to supposedly protect lands designated as “Priority 1 for agricultural use.” In the EDP this includes “lands mauka of H-1 Freeway and on the Waiʻanae side of Kunia Road, and lands in the Blast Zone of the West Loch Naval Magazine”—former Oahu Sugar Company ag land. The Kunia lands have a productive capacity rating of A or B (the highest possible) and the Magazine lands have a rating of B or C: “These 3,300 acres have been rated, in the most authoritative studies, as potentially among the most productive lands for diversified agriculture in the State.” It should be noted, however, that those studies are from 1977 and 1972.
On February 15, 2012 the City Council passed Resolution 12-23 CD1 FD1, introduced by councilwoman Ann Kobayashi. The resolution urges the city’s agricultural liaison to expedite the identifying and mapping of important ag lands and to ensure the City works to preserve them. Furthermore: “the process of identification and mapping of important agricultural lands [shall] also consider agriculturally productive lands within urban growth boundaries that are classified as prime agricultural lands, provided adequate water supply is available.”
What is now called Hoʻopili has much more recently been given the A or B productive capacity rating and is included inside the Urban Growth Boundary, so why does it not qualify for protection under Kobayashi’s resolution? The developers say there’s no water at Hoʻopili. Leon Sollenberger disagrees.
“There are lots of places on Oʻahu that have good level soils, lots of places on Oʻahu that have water, lots of places where various crops will grow. Hoʻopili is unique because it has a combination of those factors,” says Sollenberger, who has worked for years with Oʻahu’s soils from Pearl Harbor to the North Shore. “Hoʻopili has almost year-round sunshine and year-round good temperatures and water is the next ingredient. Water is something Hoʻopili has. When you put those factors together, you have a very productive piece of land.”
The EDP notes that “a portion of the lands indicated for development are in the State Agricultural Land Use District, and will have to be approved for transfer to the State Urban District by the State Land Use Commission (LUC) before they can be developed.”
The EDP conveniently leaves farming to a piece of land inside a blast zone on B and C land and A and B land on the slopes of Kunia, while the better ag land inside the UGB at Hoʻopili was always slated for conversion to urban use. Why? Because Hoʻopili is flat and easy to build on.
Could the Sierra Club have really stopped the LUC from reclassifying Hoʻopili when the commission’s decision was already written in the EDP for them 16 years before? Clearly money-making is the priority.
A number of concerns with the EDP have been brought up by a wide range of people ranging from food security to traffic congestion to what sprawl and a second city will mean for the economy. For each concern there are experts on both sides with conflicting versions of what the EDP will mean. So who do we believe?
Walter Ritte may have been talking about GMO’s at the time he said this, but his point is still valid: “You get scientists on one side that say, ‘yes.’ You got scientists on another side that say, ‘no.’ They cancel themselves out. Sooner or later we’re going to have to depend on ourselves as people to realize what the hell is going on in our communities.”
Read the EDP yourself. Look at the maps. Listen to the presentations and testimony. Engage yourself in your own future before it is too late to make it a better one. The Hawaii Independent will continue to provide analysis on some of the most contested aspects of the EDP. Stay tuned.
Duane Shimogawa, reporting for PBN:
D.R. Horton’s Hawaii-based Schuler Division plans to file a re-zoning petition next year with the City and County of Honolulu for its proposed 11,750-home Hoopili subdivision in West Oahu.
One vote never made a difference?
If you ever thought your voice did not really matter in an election, consider this: during the primary election, seven races were decided by fewer than 300 votes.
In the State Senate 4th District (Kaupulehu – Waimea – North Hilo) Malama Solomon beat Lorraine Inouye by 69 votes.
In the State House 6th District (Holualoa – Kailua-Kona – Honokohau) Nicole Lowen beat Kalei Akaka by 45 votes.
In the 30th District (Sand Island – Kalihi – Airport) Romy Cachola beat Nicole Velasco by 120 votes. (NOTE: Civil Beat reports there is some concern over the extremely high amount of absentee votes for Cachola, and reports of the candidate visiting voters homes and pressuring voters to fill out absentee ballots)
In the 34th District (Pearl City – Waimalu – Pacific Palisades) Gregg Takayama beat Eloise Tungpalan by 232 votes.
In the 40th District (Ewa Beach – Iroquois Point) Chris Manabat beat Rose Martinez by 201 votes. Romy Mindo came in third 29 votes behind Martinez and Kurt Fevella only had 50 votes less than Mindo.
In the 43rd District (Kalaeloa – Ko Olina – Maili) Karen Awana beat Hanalei Aipoalani by 287 votes.
And finally in the Hawaii Council 1st District (Hamakua – North Hilo) Valerie Poindexter beat Chelsea Yagong by 93 votes.
These races display just how crucial each and every vote is.
Land Use Commission hearings continue on massive development
The State Land Use Commission’s ongoing hearings on the Ho‘opili development project continued today in Honolulu, where the nine commissioners and a packed gallery heard testimony from a range of professionals and the public. Prominent economist Paul Brewbaker, University of Hawai‘i soil scientist Jonathan Deenik and longtime local journalist and historian Tom Coffman appeared in the morning, called by community activist and Ho‘opili opponent Keoni Dudley, who has intervenor status in the process. Developer DR Horton Hawai‘i, which seeks to build roughly 12,000 homes on what is now farmland on the Ewa plain, presented water engineer Tom Nance in the afternoon to rebut previous testimony by development opponents.
Throughout the day, orange-shirted supporters of the project vastly outnumbered opponents, both in the gallery and in the crowd of sign-wavers on Beretania Street below.
State Senator Will Espero (D-20) appeared first, having been granted a waiver to testify prior to the public comment period in deference to his legislative schedule. Espero, who once worked for DR Horton and other ‘Ewa development interests, testified that his support for the Ho‘opili project had “nothing to do with my prior employment, by with my desire to see the realization of the ‘second city’ that has been discussed for decades.” Espero pointed to the growing need for new housing on O‘ahu and told commissioners that Ho‘opili was consistent with existing state development principles.
“I believe the future price and cost of island housing and the discussions to follow will far outweigh discussions on the price of fruits and vegetables for our residents,” Espero said in prepared remarks. “Even with Ho‘opili, Hawai‘i’s agriculture industry can grow.”
A different picture
Brewbaker, the longtime Bank of Hawai‘i economist now in private practice, began with broad remarks about the economic function cities as a way to approach the much-discussed concept of “the second city” – Kapolei.
“I remember being involved in early discussions [about Kapolei]…the concept I was pitched was about a clear, segregated, free-standing urban center with an open-space boundary. Somehow, that morphed into this gigantic continuous conurbation, which is one city, not a second city. It’s like Hawai‘i Kai as opposed to whatever they thought it was going to be.”
Asked whether the Ho‘opili project made sense from a public policy point of view, Brewbaker said, “No. From that perspective, you would start urbanizing agricultural land on the worst land and work your way up the list as necessary.”
Brewbaker further suggested that even that model would be inefficient. “In my mind, the 21st century solution is to fold the development into the urban core, to more intensively use that core, to use higher density.”
Residential development, Brewbaker said, is permanent. He asked why the state would want to take a gamble with such productive agricultural land.
“For example, we may wake up 50 years from now finding that growing energy crops is a big part of our energy needs. If we don’t preserve those options and keep them open, they’ll be gone.”
Deenik, the soil scientist, testified on the results of soil-quality surveys he has conducted in the area, reporting that 90 percent of the Ho‘opili lands are “high-activity” clay soils that are highly viable for agricultural production. Of those, 50 percent of the soils are among the two most valuable, out of twelve overall soil types on Earth, for food production.
Coffman, a longtime political reporter who has written extensively about contemporary Hawai‘i politics and history, told commissioners about his work in the 1990s and early 2000s preparing public presentation materials for former landowner Campbell Estate. Echoing Brewbaker’s remarks, Coffman testified that the materials he was asked to produce, which were used in what he described as a “massive” outreach campaign to explain Kapolei’s future to elected officials and opinion-leaders, described “preservation of rich agricultural land, some compact urban development, and protection of the watershed on the mountain above.”
As a result of Campbell Estate’s outreach, Coffman said, “this became the basis of state’s commitment to a second city.” But in the mid-2000s, Coffman testified, under pressure from beneficiaries of the Estate, plans changed, and the Estate sold off virtually all of its ‘Ewa holdings, including Ho‘opili, to developers.
“Eager buyers gambled financially on the city [General] plan becoming the operative plan and on [the LUC] falling in line. They gambled on you forgetting your primary historical mission. Your job as defined by the authors of the 1959 land-use law is disarmingly simple: to protect compact urban development and to protect prime agricultural land.”
Asked how he felt about the change in vision for ‘Ewa from a distinct, green-belted area with limited residential development to the Ho‘opili plan, Coffman said, “I felt that the public trust, a kind of public compact between Campbell Estate and policy makers and opinion leaders, had been violated. And I felt ill-used in the process.”
Under questioning from DR Horton attorneys about why he had not factored in the City and County’s General Plan for O‘ahu, which pointed to residential growth on the Ewa plain, Coffman said he ignored it, under the assumption that Campbell Estate’s plan and the state’s vision for the area would hold sway.
Coffman left commissioners with the observation that “City plans [including the O‘ahu General Plan] should be looked at very critically. And the reason is that the city government is exclusively reliant on property tax for its funding, so it has an inherent inclination toward any kind of development that will produce revenue. The state LUC must therefore continue to function as it was intended in the 1959 law as our most essential institution for land use.”
The Land Use Commission’s hearings on Ho‘opili are tentatively scheduled to continue on April 4 and 5. For information and updates, see the LUC website at http://luc.state.hi.us/
The following was written by State Rep. Kymberly Pine (R), who represents Ewa Beach, Iroquois Point, and Puuloa.
Retired Army reservist Alika Wietecha and Vietnam Army veteran Ron Prescott are both business-owners that that could benefit from legislation that is being proposed this session to ask the State to do at least three percent of its business with Hawaii-based veteran-owned businesses. Mr. Wietecha owns Kapolei-based A M Landscaping, and Mr. Prescott is president of Tokunaga Masonry.
My colleagues and I announced on Tuesday, January 10 our proposal to present this legislation in the upcoming session as 14 other states have similar laws. We held a news conference to share our plans as veteran Mike McKenna’s Windward Ford offices and many veterans showed their support.
“This will help a lot,” said Wietecha, who returned from Iraq in 2004. “It’s hard to start, shut down, and start again after 15 months. This will help companies get back on track.”
Wietecha also explained that the legislation will also be of great help to the veterans’ families, who are also affected by deployment.
In addition to supporting other veterans with his business, Wietecha also offers people with special needs the opportunity to volunteer with his company and learn new skills.
It is veterans like Mr. Wietecha who give of themselves to our country and our community that we want to help with this legislation. The bill would give a 4.5 percent preference for a veteran-owned business, and a 5 percent preference if a veteran were service disabled.
“This is near and dear to my heart,” says David Bateman, a veteran and owner of Heavenly Hawaii Farm, which produces Kona Coffee. “To help returning and retired veterans to work in our economy. We want to thank our veterans.”
According to the 2007 Census, there are 10,000 veteran-owned businesses in Hawaii. One out of seven business owners in the nation are veterans, which translates to 2.4 million veteran-owned companies.
Rep. Gene Ward (R) pointed out that one in five people in Hawaii are related to someone in the military and that Hawaii has the most military in the state.
As a Navy wife, the grand daughter of a Pearl Harbor attack survivor, and a board member of U.S. Vets, issues affecting our veterans are important to me. Other legislative issues I plan to work on this session include re-opening an emergency room on the Leeward side, agriculture, cyber crime, and emergency preparedness.
Rep. Kymberly Marcos Pine, R-District 43 (‘Ewa Beach, Iroquois Point, Pu‘uloa), serves as the Minority Floor Leader in the State House. To contact her, call (808) 586-9730 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The following letter by John Bond of Save Ewa Field alleges potentially damaging construction being done at the historic Ewa Field, owned by the U.S. Navy and leased to developers.
1925 photos of Ewa Mooring Mast Field prior to construction indicate archeological evidence of significant numbers of coral karst sinkholes which possibly could contain Hawaiian burial remains. I have also seen currently existing coral karst sinkholes very nearby with very old Ti plants growing out of them, indicating some Hawaiian cultural activity in the past. This is in an area directly adjacent to areas Hunt Corp, which leases land from the Navy, is now having bulldozed and uprooted (“grubbing?”) for new commercial lots in an area that has been defined as a National Register eligible Ewa Field warehouse district according to a survey just done this year.
Glenn Oamilda of the 50-year-old Ewa Beach Community Association and Section 106 Consultant to the current Navy-Hunt KREP-Ewa Field development plan under 106 review, believes that this area likely contains an underground karst water system as well as possible Hawaiian burial remains. It is of especially great concern because this current work has been going on at odd hours and at night. The large machinery doing this work has been piling up large amounts or coral rocks and beach sand, as well as very large tree trunks pulled out of the ground. This does not seem to fit the allowed “grubbing” activity that is supposedly permitted without a Section 106.
Mike Lee, a living descendent of Hawaiian royalty, has been asked to become a community consultant on this on going damage of heavy equipment digging and leveling in the Ewa Field area, and after reviewing the 1925 Ewa Mooring Mast pre-construction photos has great concern about damage that may be done to possible cultural and Hawaiian burial sites that likely exist just below the surface. The 1941 Ewa Field Command History speaks of caverns as large as railway boxcars that had to be filled up with beach sand in many cases from nearby beach dunes, which have been known to also contain Hawaiian bones and artifacts.
Lee and Glenn believe that the Ewa Field area is part of a contiguous Hawaiian burial area linked to the significant Onelua beach burial and heiau area directly to the south of this Ewa Field area. Where Hunt Corp is currently bulldozing and clearing it is exposing sand and coral rock, which can also be clearly seen in the overhead GIS attachment. Part of the area they are clearing isn’t even on their leased parcel. The Navy is apparently allowing them to do this.
Hunt Corp has just recently allowed a TV film crew to use 1943 Quonset Hunt 1545 (which really wasn’t on their leased property) and now inspection reveals missing windows, door, a large World War II building 1545 sign designator and two large holes cut into the side of the building for film cameras. This seems to be a very typical of the pattern—a constant chipping away of historic structures to satisfy a goal of “no integrity” which Hunt and the Navy share as a development objective.
Before the Quonset hut they knocked down the landmark 1943 Ewa Field Squadron Wall along Roosevelt Avenue without any public input or notice. Hunt apparently believes that no one can stop them from continuously damaging everything that is of historic value at Ewa Field. The Navy is doing nothing to prevent this from happening. We can only record their on going damage after they have done it. The State Historic Preservation Division doesn’t seem to care either anymore.
Save Ewa Field
HONOLULU—The State of Hawaii’s administration announced today that costs for hosting the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) in Honolulu was lower than expectations.
The State spent about $3.2 million for safety related expenses, less than half of the $7.5 million projected by State agencies.
More than two-thirds of the funds were expended for activities conducted by the National Guard and State Civil Defense as hundreds of Hawaii National Guardsmen were activated to full-time status to provide security, crisis management, consequence management, and work with the State Department. In addition, eight other State departments incurred costs related to APEC, much of which was also safety related, according to the State’s administration.
Spending was attributed to a number of responsibilities:
* The Department of Health regularly took air samples of meeting places prior to ensure they were safe areas for large groups to gather.
* The Coast Guard was responsible for ocean security, but the Department of Land & Natural Resources stationed people on jet skis near the shore in Waikiki.
* The Department of Transportation handled arrival and departures of dignitaries at the airport and managed the off and on closure of various roads and streets.
“We were prepared to spend more to protect people and property during APEC,” said State Adjutant General Darryl Wong, “but were able to avoid doing that because we had few problems. The security plan set in place by the Secret Service and local and Federal law enforcement officials was well thought out and effective.”
Overall, the related cost for the Hawaii National Guardsmen brought on to State active duty during APEC amounted to about $2,526,547; while costs for the State Civil Defense were about $84,000, officials said. Costs for all of the other State departments amounted to slightly less than $600,000. These figures do not include contributions from OHA or the Hawaii Tourism Authority to the APEC 2011 Host Committee.
The State Land Use Commission will continue its hearings today on D.R. Horton‘s proposed “Ho‘opili” development in Honouliuli.
The hearings will reconvene at 9 am in room 204, in the Leiopapa a Kamehameha state office tower. The official state meeting notice is posted here.
EWA — The City and County of Honolulu participated today in a blessing ceremony for Kahi Mohala Behavioral Health’s newly-renovated Ewa facilities for adults with serious behavioral health challenges.
Kahi Mohala Behavioral Health is an 88-bed facility located on 14.5 acres on the rural west side of Oahu. It is Hawaii’s only freestanding, community-based, nonprofit psychiatric hospital, and serves individuals and families in Hawaii and throughout the Pacific Rim. In 2010, Kahi Mohala Behavioral Health served more than 1,500 patients.
Today’s ceremony celebrated the completion of Phase I of a multi-year renovation project. In Phase I, the City provided $547,816 in federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds for improvements to Kahi Mohala Behavioral Health’s Lehua A unit, which is occupied by adult patients with serious behavioral health challenges. The Lehua A unit has been in continuous use for 26 years and required multiple upgrades.
The City will also provide $550,000 in CDBG funds for Phase II of Kahi Mohala Behavioral Health’s renovations, scheduled to be completed in early 2012.
The Department of Community Services and the Department of Budget and Fiscal Services administer approximately $9 million in new CDBG funds each year from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
“We’re grateful to reach the end of Phase I and look forward to completing Phase II,” said Leonard Licina, CEO of Kahi Mohala Behavioral Health. “When we’re done, rooms will be safer and offer our patients more privacy, and the facility will help us provide even better service.”
HONOLULU—An open forum was held at the Ewa Beach Park Pavilion from on August 27 by Honolulu City Councilmember Tom Berg for Ewa residents to discuss a number of issues pertaining to Oahu’s Leeward side.
Community members discussed the building of a new road at Papipi Street in Ewa. This “gift road” was given to the City’s Parks Department by Japanese developer Haseko Ewa, Inc.
Michael Kumukauoha Lee, a Native Hawaiian cultural practitioner and recognized Cultural Descendant by the State of Hawaii Preservation Department reported that he won a contested case against Haseko Ewa, Inc. in 2008. The case dealt with the dumping of waste water from the Kaloi Gulch directly into the ocean near the Oneula Beach Park called “Hau Bush” by the Ewa Beach residents living there.
Lee said he also won another lawsuit that same year against Haseko Ewa, Inc. in the First Circuit Court of Hawaii, and that it, too, dealt with the same type of “clean water issues” being broken. Lee then presented at the meeting a report on plans for the new Papipi Road project that he said was concealed from the public.
Lee announced plans for another Hawaii lawsuit against Haseko Ewa, Inc. dealing with clean water issues as well as the protection of many ancient royal Hawaiian burial sites in the Ewa area.
The following is a video of Lee’s presentation: