June-July 1998 Home   Newsletters

August 1998

September 1998

Paradise in Jeopardy? (Ruth Brantley)
President's Message (Grace Furukawa)
Voter Registration (Arlene Ellis)
Candidates in Focus
Candidate Forum (Arlene Ellis)
Testimony Before the Charter Commission
Con Con Committee (Jean Aoki)
Forum for Congressional Candidates
Membership
Voter Registrars
Violence Concurrence

Testimony Before the Charter Commission

For over 25 years the City has been trying to find a way to balance 3 related objectives - comprehensive long range planning, effective zoning regulation, and enforcement through the granting of permits. The 1973 Charter, the '77 General Plan, the '82 Development Plans, The '86 Land Use Ordinance, and the '92 Charter Revisions have all tried to find ways to do this, but the problem remains.

Planning and Zoning used to be in the same department, but it was charged that the staff was too busy processing zoning applications to do any real planning.

There are considerable differences in the objective, implementation, and procedures involved in planning and zoning. And in the kinds of professional training and experience required in each. The Planner analyses the various problems involved in growth and development, and then recommends the best possible combination of policies and measures that would result in implementation of the island's overall objectives for a desirable future as defined in the General Plan.

Development Plans are then prepared, defined in the '92 Charter as conceptual schemes, not detailed as in zoning maps. They describe the desired urban character of the numerous parts of the city to serve as a policy guide for private and public sector development decisions.

The Charter defines zoning as dividing the island's lands into various categories and making appropriate regulations for each.

The '92 Charter recognized this and clearly differentiated the comprehensive planning function from zoning regulations. The amendments were made after thorough discussion by the Commission and considerable public input to keep the two departments separate in order that both functions could be given the attention they need. For the first time, Development Plans were revised on the basis of long-term considerations. This process would be hampered in a combined department and inevitably challenged by day-today decisions on specific projects. This merger you are planning is both not desirable and not workable, and almost guarantees that no comprehensive planning will be possible.

We agree that the people deserve the right to vote on Charter Amendments, but voters rarely have the time or interest to study them in detail. We depend on the Charter Commission, and between their 10-year reviews, the City Council to screen them. Often, ballot proposals are presented in language that does not provide the information needed. In '92 we voted "yes" or "no" on whether to "reform the development plan and zoning process". The same wording could be used for this amendment, even though it means the opposite of what was approved in '92.

A Charter Amendment being considered should have careful analysis and public input. Proposals that are impractical, unreasonable, unworkable, inappropriate or contrary to the public interest should be screened out. The Commission is more that a passive conduit between a proponent of an amendment and the public. It should not be a rubber stamp.

We urge you to reject this proposed amendment.

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