"New Directions in Planning, Zoning, and Housing"
Nearly a hundred League members, Neighborhood Board and community representatives, city and state officials, and development and building industry groups attended the League's February 20 "round table" discussion on "New Directions in Planning, Zoning, and Housing" at the Hale Koa Hotel. The city's Neighborhood Commission sent two representatives from each Neighborhood Board at Commission expense.
The discussion was wide-ranging and followed an outline prepared by League's P & Z Committee on a number of specific issues. In next month's Voter we will report on the post-luncheon talk by U. H. Professor Tom Dinnell on "Where Do We Grow From Here -- a Citizen's Perspective." Among the statements made at the morning round-table discussion were the following:
Don Clegg, Chief Planning Officer, Department of General Planning -
1/ The economic need for sugar and pineapple land is decreasing faster than diversified agriculture's demands can absorb. Surplus agricultural land should be changed to urban use when needed. However, if such land is not developed within a reasonable length of time, it should revert to a less intense use designation or a "use it or lose it" approach.
2/ In the light of the year 2005 island wide population projections, the General Plan's distribution of population to the various Development Plan areas should be revised. The proposed Waikele project in Central Oahu would not exceed the 2005 population limits and would not hurt agriculture.
3/ Increasing employment opportunities in outlying areas would relieve the transportation problem. Cancelling the proposed rail transit system "HART" was a mistake. Such a system should be built, with high density apartment areas in the transit corridor.
4/ The present planning process is too complicated and lengthy. The Charter does not require annual amendments. The annual "package" of proposed amendments is too hard to handle. Instead, individual amendments should be processed as they come in. This should take only six to 8 months.
5/ The Departments of General Planning and Land Utilization (zoning) should be combined, with a single Director. Though this would need a Charter amendment, in the meantime they can be co-ordinated.
6/ Neither the Planning Commission nor the Neighborhood Boards should be eliminated from the planning process. The latter, haw-ever, do not have a paramount part in the process, but are only one source of input.
7/ The initiative process should not be involved with small local issues, but should be used at the island-wide level.
8/ The "use it or lose it" approach is prefer-able to legislation giving developers vested rights.
9/ A new thing being considered is to require minimum densities when land is developed, so as to minimize suburban sprawl.
10/ The decision process that led to Ewa being chosen for the island's "Secondary Urban Center" is being reviewed. Until this has been done, changing the SUC's location to Central Oahu is not being considered.
11/ The City administration will defend against the 12 or 13 law-suits challenging the DP's down-designation of land. All steps required were taken and in most cases the changes were in the interest of the community. The Courts, he thinks, will vindicate the City and the Plans
John Whalen, Director, Department of Land Utilization -
1/ Combining DGP and DLU would make possible a unified approach to planning. This would not mean merging functions, but it would allow a clearer distinction between them.
2/ The Development Plans have become too parcel-specific. It is in fact difficult to distinguish from zoning. Because DGP has focused on detailed land use decision it has given short shrift to the evaluation of policy decisions.
3/ Planning has been reacting to the developer proposals instead of following a pro-active approach, where we decide what we want and enact the kind of controls which are appropriate.
4/ The new proposed Land Use Ordinance (zoning) draft is being revised. It will be less cumbersome than the present Comprehensive Zoning Code. A few major policy changes have bee made, such as letting the new "country" district apply to either agricultural or residential districts on the DP maps; not setting density (units per acre) limits in apartment districts, but relying on the floor area ratio alone; eliminating public hearings in certain types of uses; etc.
5/ When application for development is in accordance with the zoning and meets all its requirements, no public input can legally prevent its permitted use. Public hearings are only useful when they can have an impact on policy decisions.
6/ Subdivision rules and regulations are next on the agenda for review; particularly with regard to excessive engineering standards. Rural areas can have different treatment from urban districts.
7/ Inclusionary zoning net unexpectedly strong opposition. Unilateral agreements to provide some 10% "affordable" housing seem to be workable, but we need clearer definitions of "low" and "moderate" income, stronger control re-classifying land, definite commitments as to what will be built when, more emphasis on rental using for families with incomes below 80% of median, and better enforcement of the agreements.
8/ Most of the Primary Urban Center is designated for single-family use, but we need more land for apartment use --not necessarily high-density development but for low-to-moderate density.
9/ Neighborhood Board involvement at the development plan and zone stages should continue as at present, but Boards should take a more pro-active initiative in such matters as neighborhood urban design, such as landscaping projects.
Some of the above policies are in accordance with League positions, but some are not. P & Z Chair Astrid Monson advises us that the committee will study the various policies and make recommendations on which policies warrant member support.
Alvin Pang, Director, Department of Housing & Community Development discusses housing programs in a more self-help goal as we continue Chair Monson's report on the League's February "round table" discussion on "New Directions in Planning, Zoning, and Housing". We will also report on "Where Do We Grow From Here - a Citizen's Perspective", a post-luncheon talk by University of Hawaii Professor Tom Dinnell.