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December 1975

From the President (Carol Whitesell)
Units
Executive Study Consensus
Office Staff
Time for Zoning Reform??? (Astrid Monson)
View from Congress
What the Planning Committee Is Doing
Aloha to these New Members
Congratulations
Country Store Opens!!!

Time for Zoning Reform???

Recent months have seen various efforts to stop high-rise construction in such areas as punchbowl, Diamond Head, and Thomas Square. Almost every week we hear of another development proposal threatening one more area with buildings of excessive height or bulk, over-concentration of population, flooding of public facilities, or destruction of views, open spaces, beach-fronts or other amenities. Stormy public hearings take place. (Persons who fear they will suffer from such development are pitted against those who hope to profit from it.) After the shouting match, public bodies make their decision, and peace and quiet reign again until the next threat.

Less glamorous than these confrontations, but perhaps more significant to more people in the long run, is the need to correct the provisions in the Comprehensive Zoning Code (CZC)which allow over-building and excessive concentrations in many areas throughout the island. It has been estimated in a recent study of Moiliili that well over half of the island's total anticipated population growth to the end of the century could be accommodated here, in something over a single square mile, if each piece of land were built up as allowed by the present A-4 (Apartment) zoning.

It is often forgotten that land owners have the legal right to build what the zoning allows, usually without the need for a public hearing or any special public approval other than a mandatory building permit. If the public doesn't like what is happening, the remedy would seem to be to change the law rather than to try to fight these developments one by one.

Most people don't have a very clear idea of why and how buildings are permitted to encroach on their neighbors' light and air, to swallow up open space, to block out views, to flood neighborhoods with more cars and people than the public facilities can take care of. Did you know that the permitted bulk of building is almost double because corridors, stairways, and lanais don't count? Do we realize that even five or six-storied parking garages covering almost the entire lot area don't count either? That there is no effective limit to how many apartments can be squeezed into the permitted floor area? That the size of the building lot, which determines how much floor area can be built on the land, includes part of the adjacent streets, parks, public building grounds, canals,--even the ocean? Did you know that required "open space" can be on the roof of a building, so that virtually the entire lot can be built up?

Attempts to tighten up zoning controls will doubtless meet a great deal of opposition from property owners, land speculators and builders, who would not be able to exploit the land to as profitable levels as under present rules.

The League's Planning Committee has decided to put its emphasis this year on evaluation of Honolulu's CZC, especially as to its effect on population density allowed within different zones. Action possibilities include education of the community as well as members on zoning issues, and working towards creating a political climate conducive to tightening up zoning provisions.

Astrid Monson

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