A community briefing on proposed revisions to the Oahu General Plan is set for 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Mon., Jan. 14 at the Castle High School cafeteria, 45-386 Kaneohe Bay Drive. Similar briefings were held last month in downtown Honolulu and Mililani.
The general plan is intended to guide the city and county’s land use decisions, with the island’s nine community plans providing specifics on exactly what development will be allowed and where. The general plan is periodically updated, with the current review intended to take Oahu to 2035.
One of the more controversial proposals calls for designating Ko Olina, Kuilima, Hoakalei, Makaha Valley and Laie as “secondary resort areas,” which means they are considered acceptable locales for major tourism-related projects. “This revised Oahu General Plan promotes overbuilding and overcrowding in the Country that would make Oahu a third-class tourist destination and damage [the] industry that films in Hawaii for its scenic beauty,” KC Connors, a Koolauloa community advocate, wrote in an email.
Some Windward residents are currently fighting plans to include the Kuilima and Laie developments in the Koolauloa Sustainable Communities Plan. “Why are we discussing the general plan when not all of the specific community plans have been vetted or adopted?” asks Kent Fonoimoana of the Defend Oahu Coalition.
Proposed new policies include:
“[F]ostering a healthy business climate by removing unnecessary regulatory barriers,” though no burdensome regulations are identified.
Prohibiting the urbanization of high value agricultural lands outside the City’s growth boundaries, and adding incentives to ensure that ag land remains affordable for farming. Additionally, a policy that called for protecting ag lands along the Windward, North Shore and Waianae coasts has been replaced with a more general provision to promote small-scale agricultural enterprises
Promoting high-density, mixed-use development, ‘ohana housing and accessory dwelling units as a way to generate more affordable housing, along with encouraging the military to provide accommodations for its own active duty personnel.
Provisions for protecting and restoring watersheds, stream flows and stream habitat; studying and monitoring climate change, especially sea level rise; and requiring new projects to be set far enough back from the ocean that protective seawalls aren’t needed.
Urging the tourism industry to improve the visitor experience by respecting and emphasizing the Native Hawaiian culture and ensuring that new accommodations and attractions don’t increase the cost of providing public services.
“Instead,” Connors says, “Oahu needs a modern Rural Development Plan that develops a diversified economy with higher income jobs in the Country,” in such sectors as agriculture, fishing, food processing, scientific research, traditional arts, and film and other media.
Fonoimoana is urging interested citizens to attend the briefing, though he admits that “It’s getting to be really discouraging because it seems like . . . the city is selective in who they listen to.”