President's Message (Arlene Ellis)|
Special Acknowledgement (Martha Black)
Planning and Zoning (Astrid Monson)
People's Water Conference (Martha Black)
Proposed Bylaws Changes
League's Wish List
City Council Review Committee
League of Women Voters Presents
State League Plans Fall Conference
Ten Commandments of Citizen Lobbying
Planning and Zoning
Traditionally, League's Planning and Zoning Committee doesn't meet in December because of the holidays and "because nothing happens at that time of year.".
This year it was different. The surprise move by Councilman Abercrombie to do away with the Development Plan annual amendment review process in favor or "independent consideration" of each proposed change -- in spite of the rejection of this administration-sponsored amendment in the Council's Planning Committee--galvanized the community into action. Along with some 45 other organizations--neighborhood Boards, community organizations, environmental groups and a broad spectrum of public interest groups and prominent individuals-League mounted a spirited campaign to defeat the Abercrombie amendment which as of this writing had succeeded.
The Bill sent back to the Council's Planning Committee by an 8/1 vote is essentially the Committee's original recommendation to retain the annual review process intact, except that city-approved housing projects containing at least 60% homes affordable to families with less than 120% of the island's median income (now about $40,000) were added to the types of land use amendments already eligible for independent consideration.
Newly appointed Chief Planning Officer Ben Lee in effect reversed the City Administration's former position to eliminate the Annual Review and is supporting the bill now before the Council's Planning Committee.
The next step for the League's P & Z Committee will be to build on this new community awareness of the importance of comprehensive planning as opposed to "ad hoc" decisions, by formulating a program of suggested improvements to the process. Various other groups including the Honolulu Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, have expressed interest in working together to work out such a program.
All interested League members are invited to attend the P & Z meeting on January 29, in the League office at noon, to discuss the possible elements of such a program.
We can also report that during all this commotion the proposed amendment to the Secondary Urban Center Development Plan and raising downtown height limits to 500 ft. (long opposed by League) were defeated in the Council's Planning Committee and are "dead" for this year.
A number of planning issues are still alive and will be requiring our attention in the near future. The two Convention Center proposals have been receiving increasing criticism and opposition because of their flagrant violation of zoned height and density limits. A third proposal is being prepared by the Queen Emma Foundation and will be submitted to the State by the March 15 deadline.
The City Department of Land Utilization meanwhile, is still considering what recommendations it will make on the Plan Review Use Application for the Convention Center on the Aloha Motors site. Among many others, League submitted requested comments on the PRU in a 14-page report dated October 11. Latest indications are that newly appointed DLU Chief Don Clegg will make his recommendations sometime in February.
Another major controversy before the Council--this time in the Zoning Committee--is what to do about the explosion in applications for golf course development. Over 30 courses involving 12 square miles are in various stages of planning and permit approval processing primarily on agricultural land. Until now they could go almost anywhere and required only an administrative special permit available without a-public hearing. Various bills have been debated -- one allowing golf courses in most kinds of districts, including agricultural, after one public hearing and Plan Review Use approval by the Council. League and other public interest groups have been backing an alternative bill which would allow golf courses only in areas shown for "parks and recreation" on the Development Plan maps. This would mean that golf course applications in areas shown as agricultural or preservation would have to go through the Development Plan amendment process -- i.e., the annual review, which the Abercrombie bill would have eliminated. The golf course bills are currently in the Council's Zoning Committee.
Other issues on the P & Z plate are in various stages including waterfront plans, the Kakaako makai planning and development agreements.
At League's membership meeting Dec. 16 on program planning, it was voted to set up a special task force to study the City's rail transit plans, report the pros and cons to our membership, decide on League's position, and develop a program of action. Members of both League's transportation and planning committees will be appointed to the task force and others are welcome.
The City's draft Alternative Analyses and Environmental Impacts assessments are currently before the federal Urban Mass Transit Administration. The City hopes for early approval so that funds can be requested of the State Legislature. This is probably the most important planning decision the island will be making for years to come. Early appointment of League's task force is being scheduled.
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