November-December 1989 Home   Newsletters

January 1990

February 1990

President's Message (Arlene Ellis)
Special Acknowledgement (Martha Black)
Planning and Zoning (Astrid Monson)
People's Water Conference (Martha Black)
Census '90
Proposed Bylaws Changes
League's Wish List
City Council Review Committee
League of Women Voters Presents
Vote Counts
City Funding
Special Thanks
State League Plans Fall Conference
Ten Commandments of Citizen Lobbying

President's Message

STOP THE SCANDAL

"it would be a scandal for [Oahu's Development Plan Review Process] to be thrown out ..."

Honolulu Advertiser Editorial "Council's Bad Idea" December 15, 1989

The existing planning process includes an ANNUAL REVIEW of Development Plans for the WHOLE ISLAND.

"This allows the Council and the voting and tax paying public to get a big picture …"

THE ABERCROMBIE AMENDMENT TO BILL 138 NOW PROPOSES TO ELIMINATE THE ANNUAL REVIEW.

ANNUAL REVIEW IS ESSENTIAL

  • For orderly, effective public participation in planning
  • To counteract pressures for individual projects
  • For annual budget decisions concerning roads, sewers, parks

WHAT HAPPENS IF ANNUAL REVIEW IS ELIMINATED?

  • Comprehensive, long-range planning will be gutted / destroyed / impossible

  • Public participation will be much more difficult

  • More uncontrolled development and destruction of our precious environment

  • More golf courses threatening our water supply More raw sewage overflows

  • More gridlock traffic jams

"…the alternative proposed with such stealth and surprise is planning chaos, The council should not plunge Oahu back info those dark waters."

All Quotes are from
the Honolulu Advertiser editorial, Dec. 15, 1989

Three months ago on public radio, we voiced our concern over the critical condition of the planning process on Oahu and urged the public to stand up and be heard.

On Wednesday, December 13, Neil Abercrombie after an infamous 45-minute recess presented an amendment to Bill 138 in which the Development Plan amendment review process would be abandoned and replaced with "individual consideration" of development projects on a piece-meal basis throughout the year. This was the last straw. We were outraged at the manner in which the amendment was sprung on the public and at the 6/3 vote for it. Well, there goes the planning process down the proverbial tube, we groaned. The final action on the amendment was scheduled for January 10. Happy New Year.

The following Tuesday during a conversation with Patsy Mink, I heard her say wistfully, "wouldn't it be great if we could take a full-page ad in the paper and let the public know what's going on?" My immediate reaction was--well, why not? Patsy was assigned to check costs, etc. with the papers while I made a list of like-minded organizations, called them and posed the question of whether they would support our action if we indeed took out an ad and went public. Of the 20 organizations I contacted, there were no negative responses and many enthusiastic "that's great" and "go for it".

I had planned to leave town on December 24 and return on January 7. Obviously time was of the essence. We called a strategy meeting, formed a committee to formulate the text for an ad, decided on the size of the ad and the dates of publication. The members of the Board when contacted by phone were unanimous in their approval of our actions.

20 more organizations were called for their endorsement and all the answers were positive. Astrid Monson was selected to Chair the ad committee and to continue the phone contacts.

The phone wires were hot between Kailua and Waikiki as Astrid and I worked on the wording and composition of the ad up to the hour before my departure for the airport. The last hour was spent on the phone firming up a couple of contacts.

Our original thought was to reprint the Advertiser editorial of December 15 and highlight portions of it, but we were informed that the papers new position was to disallow reprints for fear that they would seem to endorse our actions--which made no sense because we were intending to use their editorial opinion--but we could use excerpts, which we did.

Our eleventh hour efforts on the text of the ad was evidently considered too wordy and "educational", so the end result was the committee-approved ad that appeared in the papers on January 4 and 8.

My absence from the scene was in body only--as the phone wires between Kailua and San Raphael continued to hum. The ad apparently ruffled many official feathers as well as aroused the public as it was intended to do. The new Chief Planning Officer offered a compromise Bill just before the publication of our second ad, but we decided to run the second one, rather than capitulate for much less than half a loaf.

Most encouraging was the public turnout on January 10 to testify against the Abercrombie Bill. Most of the persons and organizations that endorsed our ad appeared to testify. We were united in our effort to retain the annual review process and did succeed in making our point felt. In spite of Abercrombie's venomous attack on the Council floor attempting to discredit the League in our efforts to inform the public of the true intent of his amendment, we seemed to have won in our efforts to preserve the annual review process.

After a less than 45-minute recess, another floor amendment was introduced by Abercrombie and Felix retaining the annual review process, but exempting housing developments with 60% affordable units and "accessory" developments such as shopping centers and golf courses. Ah, there's the rub. Why exempt housing from planning procedures to provide needed infrastructure just because they contain 60% affordable units? As Councilman Kahanu, the Chair of the Housing Committee pointed out, "fast-tracking" affordable housing already exists under State law. And why include accessory uses such as golf courses for independent consideration? Perhaps to enable developers to emulate the City's West Lock golf course's suggested sale before the completion of the housing project?

We will oppose the latest amendment, not because we are against development as suggested by our Mayor on a recent 6 p.m. Ch 9 TV news broadcast when he told us all to go to a very hot place, nor because we are being misguided by our "instant planning expert, Astrid Munsoon", as he further accused, but because we are not satisfied with less than half a loaf.

(Details of the Council action and testimonies will be found in the Planning & Zoning column)

To date we have received 85 responses to our ad including $2000 in small donations and $1500 in pledges. We have not yet contacted all of our sponsors who we hope will help us defray the cost of the ads. We hope that Leaguers will reach deep into their pockets and help us meet the $6000 total cost.

Arlene Ellis

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