EPA Agrees with League's Comments on City's Transit DEIS (Jackie Parnell)
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EPA Agrees with League's Comments on City's Transit DEIS
Honolulu Advertiser lead story April 15 was: EPA Wants Rail Detoured to Save Waiawa “Banana Patch.”
This is the part of the rail transit Draft Environmental Impact Statement that League zeroed in on in our comments on the DEIS: Environmental Justice Sections 4.6.5 Banana Patch Community and 4.6.6 Mitigation.
The DEIS accurately describes this area between Farrington and Kamehameha highways as a multi-generational community bordering Waipahu and Pearl City. Residents who are primarily of Asian extraction and poor occupy it. It is also the place designated for the Pearl Highland park-and-ride lot that will serve the Pearl Highlands Station. All of the Build Alternatives would displace residences, including single-family homes, businesses and one church.
The section then concludes, “Impacts to the Banana Patch community suggest a disproportionate effect on community cohesion and isolation in addition to the relocation effects. The displacement of residences could result in social interaction or sense of community, stability, and psychological unity by removing residents who have resided in the same community for generations. Due to the high cost of living and available land, it is unlikely that residents would be co-located in another area of the city.” In other words, the residents so dislocated have no place to go and would most likely join the ever-increasing ranks of the homeless.
Under 4.6.6 Mitigation it is stated, “The identification of a disproportionately high and adverse effect on EJ ("Environmental Justice" refers to the requirement that impacts must not fall disproportionately on minority groups and/or poor people.) populations does not preclude a project from moving forward if a mitigation measure that would avoid or reduce the disproportionately high and adverse effects are not practicable.” The document further states that since the project would not result in disproportionately high and adverse impacts within the Oahu metropolitan planning Environmental Justice areas, no specific mitigation measures to reduce impacts are warranted. Again, in other words, tough luck. As long as you don’t wipe out a really big hunk of low-income areas, you don’t have to worry about destroying small areas, no matter how poor or desperate the residents may be.
We noted that the City’s response to the protests against urban renewal in Chinatown with widespread displacement of poor people was, since there was no other affordable place to move them to, they simply had to accept it. Fortunately People Against Chinatown Evacuation (PACE) was formed and wielded enough pressure that the project was abandoned.
We also said: It is bad enough that we have a throwaway society as far as material things are concerned. There is no way we can justify throwaway people. If you cannot mitigate bad effects, you don’t proceed!
Elsewhere in the document re-alignments are suggested to save historic buildings. But no such measures are considered necessary when it is only poor people that are in the way of the train or a parking lot!
We believe the mitigation measures in this case are totally inadequate. Either the plan should be changed or the residents suitably relocated.
Let's hope that EPA does not back down on this. It is unconscionable that the City will make people homeless in favor of a parking lot.
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