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President's Message (Arlene Ellis)
Roe v. Wade
Supreme Court Decision May Have a Chilling Effect
General Membership Meeting
Councilman Gary Gill on Downtown Heights and Rail Transit
Rosalie Goodman Internship Program
Dialog - Honolulu: How High?
Letter to the Editor: Re: Diamond Head Preservation (Mildred Walston)
Studio threatens vow to preserve Diamond Head (Luci Pfaltzgraff)
LVW Presents
Dialog - "Brain Drain"
Kate Kortschak
1989-90 Roster


Studio threatens vow to preserve Diamond Head

Star-Bulletin, Thursday, June 22, 1989 A-21

I believe that proponents of the proposed expansion of the film facility on the slopes of Diamond Head fail to grasp the past 25-year commitment of citizens and government at all levels to preserve Hawaii's most famous landmark.

I have no quarrel with the need to develop a film industry in Hawaii. However, I do believe that the proposed expansion at its present temporary site at Diamond Head is the wrong location. The present 12,000-square-foot soundstage has always been considered a temporary structure for temporary use. It has been tolerated, because it was meant to be just that -- temporary.

The permanent development of a film industry with its attendant facilities and services is better developed in an area zoned for commercial activities. The film industry is a manufacturing process that includes construction. demolition, trucking, printing and chemical processing. All these activities are better served in a commercial location.

I agree with John Whalen, director of the city Department of Land Utilization, when he writes that the "visual impacts of the project violate the policy and intent of both the Special Management Area and the Diamond Head Special District." No amount of landscaping could offset the negative impact of this proposal which will be 3½ times the size of the existing structure.

The proposed cluster of buildings includes two warehouse-type concrete block sound facilities which are 50 feet in height and each 16,500 square feet in area. Such commercial use and structures are totally incompatible with the surrounding residential neighborhood.

The height and massiveness of the proposed buildings are directly contrary to the Diamond Head Special Design District regulations. In his "Other Views" column April 27, Terry Nevius, president of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees-Local 665, justified such development by stating that, "The studio is flanked by a cemetery, Fort Ruger, the campus, and the back of Diamond Head." Does Mr. Nevius imply that the view of the back of Diamond Head is not important?

Furthermore, the stand taken by our government leaders, concerned individuals and community groups is not just a "personal view," as Mr. Nevius stated, but a public policy that has developed during the last 25 years.

Although Diamond Head is best known for its strong profile thrust seaward against its backdrop of blue Hawaiian sky, it is a volcanic phenomenon of three dimensions with a nearly circular crater two-thirds of a mile in diameter. It is one of the world's outstanding examples of a tuffcone volcano, unsurpassed anywhere. It is a landmark not only with dramatic scenic beauty, but also of deep historic significance and of notable botanic and geologic interest.

Diamond Head was designated a Registered National Natural Landmark in 1968 to focus attention on areas of natural geologic significance and to encourage their preservation. Former Gov. John A. Burns, upon receiving the plaque now situated in Kapiolani Park, stated: "May I assure the Secretary of the Interior again, as I have in writing, and the people of the United States, that the people of Hawaii will preserve and enhance Diamond Head for future generations."

Contrary to Mr. Nevius' remarks that height variances for the film studio "are no more than what has already been granted" to Kapiolani Community College, I believe that the college has been sensitive to the residential character of the area and has kept the height of its buildings within one or two feet of the 25-foot height limit set by the Diamond Head Special District.

The college also has taken into consideration the contour of the land and the need for open space and tree cover as a proper setting for Diamond Head State Monument.

Of great importance to this question of a permanent film studio at Diamond Head is Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 203 SDI, HD1 which passed final reading of the 1989 state Legislature on April 26. The Resolution Relating to the Evaluation and Desirability of Developing and Establishing a Film Production Center and Entertainment Park specifically states:

"The existing facilities at Diamond Head are too rudimentary to sustain either major film production companies or the local film industry and lack adequate production and post-production facilities and support services."

Further, the Standing Committee Report deleted the clause that "directed the department to improve basic facilities at the temporary Diamond Head site during the interim."

I believe the directive of the Legislature is clear on the preservation of Diamond Head and consistent with its position in 1970. At that time, the Legislature directed the City and County of Honolulu to "create an Historic, Cultural and Scenic District to protect Diamond Head State Monument through control of the use of land surrounding the Monument."

There is still time for Gov. Waihee to rethink the changing of this temporary facility to a permanent film industry at Diamond Head. The Executive Order to transfer this land has not been completed. The funds for the project have not yet been encumbered or released.

Luci Pfaltzgraff

Luci Pfaltzgraff has been Diamond Head chairwoman of The Outdoor Circle for the past 25 years.

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