The City of Aloha Discarded a New Draft
of the Primary Urban Center Development Plan
The League Board took the position in July, 2002 that the Primary Urban Center (Kahala to Pearl City) should have moderate growth instead of full development as required in the Honolulu General Plan. A recently issued draft Primary Urban Center Development Plan (PUCDP) is based on full and denser development.
The Star-Bulletin in July reported that Honolulu metro area's concentration of 12.36 people per urbanized land acre was highest in the county in 1997. Honolulu also ranked first in 1982 with 13.2 people per urbanized area. Although the density actually went down a little bit, Honolulu continued to rank No. 1. Unfortunately, the PUCDP seems to propose strategies to increase the population density and maintain Honolulu as No. 1 in the highest density metropolitan areas ranking.
The proposed strategies for in-town housing are the following: reduce or eliminate required front and side yard setbacks; allow additional floor area for multi-family housing; reduce minimum parking requirements; count parking as floor area and increase floor area ratio (FAR) commensurately which can allow the developer to build more housing units and provide less parking; and change building regulations to encourage Type V construction which allows any materials subject to the one-hour fire resistance standard (The materials could include gypsum board and wood beside concrete, steel and masonry). The PUCDP recommendations improve the feasibility of building on small lots by eliminating setbacks and other disincentives as well as allowing buildings to cover a larger portion of the lot.
The proposed DP considers potential implementation strategies for developing a balanced transportation system (public transit, bicycling, and walking).
By allowing increased density, the Aloha appearance of Honolulu might be lost, but we may stay ahead of the density of other metropolitan areas such as Los Angeles, New York, Reno, San Francisco, Miami.
Editors note: This is the City's second attempt at a Development Plan for the PUC (Pearl City to Kahala). At the informational meetings on August 27 and 29, City staff presented this draft plan and listened to community concerns. When all comments are submitted to the City 's Department of Planning and Permitting by a deadline yet to be determined, the draft along with comments will be forwarded to the City Planning Commission for their review and recommendation. The next stop for this plan will then be the Honolulu City Council.