The City Council, poised to pass the General Plan amendments, postponed the decision until noon on January 19. League's statement to the Council was given by President Ellis on Tuesday as follows:
"We are shocked and dismayed at your Planning Committee's recommendation to adopt the proposed General Plan amendments. Anyone who attended last week's committee meeting or watched the TV re-run on Channel 20 could not but note the inadequate discussion of the fundamental issues involved and many questions left unanswered--hardly surprising in view of the complexities of the subject and the very short time the majority of the Committee members have had to gain a complete understanding of how the planning process is supposed to work.
Four years ago Cooper & Daws' book, "Land & Power in Hawaii" traced in great detail the way development decisions were made in the '60's and early '70's. They documented the cozy relationships between developers, planning officials, and politicians of the time and how frequently development decisions were made on the basis of economic power and political connections.
The book created quite a stir, but many of us hoped the bad old days were over. We now had a workable system of public planning. We had adopted, with wide community approval, a General Plan and Development Plans that could curb these nefarious practices. We thought planning could now be carried on in the open, in a rational manner. Projects would only be approved if they were in accordance with the Plans.
Our illusions were rudely jolted during these past few months as we testified repeatedly on the basic planning issues involved and got nowhere. We were obviously up against pressure being applied to get specific projects approved even though they were incompatible with the duly adopted Plans. This time the arguments were clothed in desirable objectives--more affordable housing, competition, jobs, improved public facilities. No one asked if the proposed amendments would indeed help achieve these objectives or, conversely, if. the objectives could not better be achieved under the present General Plan.
There were good reasons why that Plan was structured to direct as much growth as possible to a more compact planned community near Ewa's employment centers and to discourage further sprawling development in urban fringe and rural areas. These included lower costs for land and infrastructure per family, less loss of prime agricultural land, closer proximity to employment centers, shorter commuting distances, and many other advantages clearly explained in official City reports supporting the Plan. These reasons are still valid.
No convincing reason has been given for why these General Plan amendments are needed at the present time, other than that without them Mililani Mauka, Royal Kunia and Waiola could not be approved.
We urge the Council not to be stampeded into premature action. The worst consequences of abandoning the present General Plan growth philosophy is the clear message you are sending that the City no longer takes planning and its implementation seriously, and that we are back in the olds before 1978. Much more is involved here than changing a few percentages in a table or changing a few sentences in the General Plan text.
We plead that you go slow on so important a planning decision. We suggest that for now you up-date the population figures to the 2010 total, keeping the present Development Plan area percentages but shifting some 5% (50,000 people) from the Primary Urban Center's capacity to Ewa. With the thousands of unbuilt homes already in the pipe-line, you have ample time to study the full implications of the other proposed amendments at your leisure.
The General Plan has served well up to now. As the saying goes: 'If it ain't broke, Don't fix it.'"