Star Advertiser: Important map of ag lands is forwarded to City Council

By Gordon Y.K. Pang 

September 17, 2018

More than 45,000 acres on Oahu should be designated as important agricultural lands and required to stay that way in perpetuity under a new plan submitted by Mayor Kirk Caldwell to the Honolulu City Council.

It’s taken half a century to get this far. Now comes the hard part: getting something through the Council.

In the 1978 Constitutional Convention, voters ratified an amendment to the state Constitution that mandated that so-called important agricultural lands, or IAL, be identified and designated.

In return for their commitment to continued agricultural use, property owners are supposed to receive incentives from the state and city governments.

The 1,800 parcels identified in the Report on Oahu Important Agricultural Land Mapping Project represent about 12 percent of the island’s landmass.

Of Oahu’s 386,000 acres, roughly 128,000 (32 percent) are classified as agricultural, and about 12,300 already have IAL designation at the request of landowners.

A majority of the lands recommended for IAL status under the new plan are in Central Oahu (Mililani, Kunia and Wahiawa) and the North Shore (Haleiwa and Waialua), but there are also several large tracts along the Waianae Coast and the northeastern regions of Koolau Loa and Koolau Poko on the Windward side of the island.

The Council must act on the mayor’s plan, or its own version of it, and then submit it to the state Land Use Commission for a final decision.

Caldwell said community meetings held by the Department of Planning and Permitting across the island have been heated, and he expects that to continue. “People are wanting more or wanting less. Everyone seems to be upset one way or the other,” he said.

But Caldwell and DPP officials view it as imperative to finish the project and forward the city’s recommendations to the LUC.

“Agriculture has an important part on our island, not just the neighbor islands,” he said. “It’s about the long-term impacts — how do we remain resilient and sustainable, and how do we keep agriculture alive? Even if some of those lands aren’t farmed today, I believe sometime in the future if the economics change, they could become more viable for farming.”

Growing concern about climate change and sea-level rise have heightened the urgency to complete the study, said Josh Stanbro, Honolulu’s chief resiliency officer.

“Food security is one of the biggest challenges of climate change,” Stanbro said. “Increasingly, we’re seeing drought and extreme weather conditions hampering big global food production.”

Available water, sufficient labor and long-term availability of land are the biggest impediments facing local farmers, Stanbro said. By designating IAL properties, “this hopefully gives them the land base in the future to really farm on and put their roots out in and be able to invest for the long term because they’ll know the rug’s not going to be pulled from under their feet.”

However, some landowners strongly object to keeping their property designated agriculture in perpetuity.

“They don’t want to be designated because they want to have the ability to at some point to come in and change zoning in communities where they think they could build housing, and they’ve asked me to slow it down or to exclude their properties,” Caldwell said. “Some of it is really some of the best farmlands on Oahu, and we have not done that. So I’m sure they’ll be before the Council.”

David Arakawa, executive director of the landowner-backed Land Use Research Foundation and a member of the city’s technical advisory committee, said the situation is more nuanced than what Caldwell described, adding that he and others on the task force were surprised to learn through the Honolulu Star-Advertiser the Caldwell administration had finalized a plan, made it public and submitted it to the Council. Several LURF members have been in discussion with the mayor and city officials about which of their lands should be designated IAL, and they believed those talks were ongoing, he said.

At the very least, the committee should have been given the opportunity to review and make further suggestions on the final draft, he said.

He expressed concern that the city has not conducted surveys of the lands they propose to designate IAL and thus cannot be sure they meet the criteria for the designation.

“The city’s consultant primarily relied on technology (not actual site visits) to make its initial recommendations for IAL designations,” Arakawa said. That led to “inaccurate information and erroneous and unfair proposed IAL designations.”

The selection of IAL was “resource-based,” acting DPP Director Kathy Sokugawa said. “It didn’t matter who owned the land; it didn’t matter where the property lines were. We just went with the criteria.”

Initial designation was given to agricultural lands that met one or more of three top criteria: lands currently being used for agriculture; lands with enough available water for agriculture; and soil conditions conducive to agriculture.

Arakawa said committee members agree those are the most important criteria but believe water availability to be the most significant factor and an absolute requirement before lands can be designated as IAL.

LURF is also raising objections because the report submitted to the Council does not include landowner incentives as mandated by state law, Arakawa said.

“The county IAL designations can only take effect three years after incentives and protections for IAL and agricultural viability are enacted by the county,” Arakawa said. “The failure to enact IAL incentives could delay the county designation process for three years after the county enacts IAL incentives.”

Sokugawa said the city is looking at incentives and intends to submit a separate measure to the Council.

Because there are incentives already in place at both the state and city levels for standard agricultural use, it’s difficult for the city to find additional ones to provide those with lands designated IAL, Caldwell said.

Revised Comments for the O‘ahu General Plan

Below are some of the comments the Sierra Club O‘ahu Group gave before the Honolulu Planning Commission at their March 21, 2018 meeting in regards to the updated proposed O‘ahu General Plan. The O‘ahu General Plan is a document that helps guide future development throughout the island and it is long overdue for an update. Mahalo to Honolulu Planning Commission under the leadership of Chair Ka‘iulani Sodaro for taking in consideration many of the concerns the O‘ahu Group provided on the O‘ahu General Plan in relations to population, short-term vacation rentals, and renewable energy. We are pleased that the plan continues to emphasize language relating to climate change, sea level rise, renewable energy, agriculture, and transit-oriented development. Major amendments to the O‘ahu General Plan that were adopted by the Planning Commission include:

  • Reinstate language to “Publicize the desire of the City and County to limit population growth.”
  • Retain language: “manage” instead of “facilitate” for “the development of secondary resort areas: Ko‘olina Resort, Turtle Bay Resort, Hoakalei Resort at Ocean Point, Mākaha Valley, and La‘ie, in a manner which respects existing lifestyles and the natural environment, and avoids substantial increases in the cost of providing public services in the area.”

According to DPP, these areas were named specifically because they have already been authorized as secondary resort areas.

  • Strike language to “Consider small-scale community oriented visitor accommodations in non-resort areas with attention to community input, compatibility of uses, infrastructure adequacy, and the ability to enforce effectively.”

Essentially this would help prevent the further proliferation of short term vacation rentals in residential communities.

  • Combine policy language: “Support and encourage programs and projects, including economic incentives, regulatory measures, and educational efforts, which will reduce O‘ahu’s dependence on fossil fuels as its primary source of energy. Promote and assist efforts to establish safe and adequate fossil fuel supply reserves within Hawai’i’s boundaries until Hawai’i reaches its renewable energy goals.

This took into consideration our issue that we should not be promoting any more fossil fuels for O‘ahu, as our State has already committed to 100% clean energy by 2045.

7 changes were made and adopted at this meeting, including the four above. The next step for the O‘ahu General Plan is to be adopted by the City Council. We will continue to advocate for sound environmental policy to be included in the O‘ahu General Plan.

Below are our written comments which we used as a basis for our oral testimony during the public meeting:

Mahalo for your support.

Star-Advertiser: Residents vow to fight Dillingham Ranch subdivision

Dillingham Ranch, shown in the red lines, covers 2,700 acres in Mokuleia and includes low-lying lands with equestrian facilities and rugged mountain terrain.

North Shore residents have unleashed a sweeping condemnation of a plan to subdivide Dillingham Ranch for housing while somewhat expanding agriculture on the historic 2,721-acre property in Mokuleia.

The opposition flowed from roughly 350 people at a special North Shore Neighborhood Board meeting Wednesday night to discuss the development plan that was first presented a decade ago and revised three times since then.

Representatives of ranch owner and subdivision proposer Kennedy Wilson Inc., a Beverly Hills, Calif.-based real estate investment and development firm, told the crowd gathered inside a Waialua Community Association wooden gym building Wednesday that the plan for the ranch, which dates to 1897, would benefit the community and deserved support.

Yet community members rejected the suggestion and vowed to fight the $60 million to $80 million project, which would create 70 house lots on land zoned for agriculture.

“This is going to be the death knell to the North Shore,” said Kristin Douglas. “That is immoral. That is wrong. Shame on you.”

Waialua resident James Frisbie chastised Kennedy Wilson for trying to maximize the value of ranch land it bought in 2006 and serving wealthy folks interested in buying house lots that would have to sell for around $1 million or more for the developer to break even. “The rich have enough,” he said. “This project benefits the rich, not the public, not the future.”

Other concerns from residents include Kennedy Wilson inflating the price of farmland, making farming less viable; degrading traffic; and encouraging other developers to pursue similar projects instead of going through a more difficult land rezoning process.

Dave Eadie, a Kennedy Wilson official, and consultant Scott Ezer, with local planning firm HHF Planners, led off the meeting with a presentation and sat through most of the 2-1/2-hour event listening to exclusively negative feedback from about 40 community members who addressed them and often drew applause. Board members also were critical, and voted 13-0 to oppose the plan. And one disgruntled person flipped a table that sent the developer’s computer presentation equipment crashing to the gym floor as the meeting ended.

The meeting followed a presentation to the board by Eadie and Ezer in June before Kennedy Wilson published a draft environmental impact statement in January that describes the subdivision plan in detail. At the June meeting the board held off on taking a position.

Under the plan Kennedy Wilson would sell house lots mainly between 3 and 10 acres each and require buyers to plant fruit trees on 1 to 3 acres of their property within three years. The company said it would give each buyer $9,000 to $20,550 for planting, and anticipates that some buyers will hire orchard managers and perhaps form a commercial cooperative.

Haleiwa woodworking artist Jennifer Homcy ridiculed that notion. “If I had the kind of money to buy a $1.5 million acre lot and build a giant ‘ranchion’ (ranch-style mansion) for myself, do you think I want a bunch of farmers coming to my property every day to farm it?” she said. “Come on!”

Homcy also questioned a part of Kennedy Wilson’s farm plan that would discount initial rents for commercial operators taking over existing Dillingham Ranch equestrian activities, cattle ranching, a mango orchard and palm tree plantation as tenants of a new homeowners association.

Homcy wanted to know how much of a discount would be given and for how long. Neighborhood board member Roberts “Bob” Leinau pointed out that a homeowners association can amend its rules and that the risk of homeowners discontinuing farming is big.

“The guys we’re talking to tonight, when they sell the last lot, they’re out of here,” Leinau said.

Kennedy Wilson’s farm plan is the linchpin to gaining regulatory approval for the project because homes on farmland are allowed only as accessories to agricultural activity under state law. The city Department of Planning and Permitting decides whether to issue subdivision permits, but has to if a viable plan exists for agriculture associated with the lots. Viable isn’t well defined in regulations, but the state Department of Agriculture, which objected to prior versions of Kennedy Wilson’s plan, said the current version complies.

Other parts of the new farm plan include installing irrigation for some cattle pastures, the palm plantation and mango orchard. The developer also would establish a 5-acre hydroponic vegetable farm leased to a farmer at an initial discount while also providing $50,000 a year for 10 years so an instructor can train students from schools that could include Waialua High and Intermediate and the University of Hawaii.

“All in all, I think it’s a supportable plan,” Eadie said. “It’s something that is reasonable.”

Some community members expressed concern about DPP approving the subdivision after the community and the neighborhood board, which is an advisory body, submits comments on the draft environmental report. But others vowed to fight, and suggested that they implore the Legislature to change state law governing farm dwellings, raise money to buy the ranch and find lawyers to contest the project if approved.

“This is going to be another Hokulia,” proclaimed Waialua resident Mike Biechler, referring to a Hawaii island subdivision of homes and a golf course on farmland that included a coffee tree component and ended up in bankruptcy after years of litigation.

Added neighborhood board member Bill Martin, “We need to kill this project.”

Star Advertiser: LED fixtures in city street lights dangerously bright, Sierra Club says

By Gordon Y.K. Pang

The Sierra Club’s Oahu Group on Friday said the LED fixtures the city chose for its approximately 53,500 street lights across Oahu are “bluer” and more harmful than more technologically advanced LEDs now on the market.

“We met with the city over a year ago and advised them to avoid the use of the much bluer 4000K and 3000K lighting,” the Oahu Group of the Sierra Club said in a statement.

Robert Kroning, the city’s director of design and construction, said the city is discussing the concerns with contractor Johnson Controls. When the city solicited proposals for the project in 2016, 2700K lights were not commercially available.

The Oahu group said that the blue light component of the fixtures chosen by the city “has been scientifically proven to decrease night vision, make it more difficult for people to sleep and hurt their health, severely and adversely affect night-flying seabirds and greatly increase the sky brightness to the detriment of astronomy on Hawaii island and sky gazers on Oahu.”

Kevin Jim, an astronomer and physicist who volunteers with the Sierra Club, said Los Angeles is now requiring most new lighting be 2700K after it made the same mistake, he said.

Kroning said the city has learned that the contractor’s manufacturer recently made available 2700K lights. “We are having the contractor examine the new 2700K LED street lights to see if they meet the requirements of the request for proposals in both energy savings and in illumination of our roadways,” he said. “If they do, we may make the change to a 2700K fixture.”

Kroning said he’s comfortable with the 3000K fixtures, which will be used in 90 percent of the lamps “since the blue light component difference between 3000K and 2700K light is quite small.”

Mayor Kirk Caldwell announced the conversions Thursday, saying the city does not need to pay any of the $46.6 million in costs upfront and that the lights will pay for themselves within 10 years and then start saving the city about $5 million annually.

Support for Bill 1 (2017)- Ko‘olauloa Sustainable Communities Plan

Below is the Sierra Club O‘ahu Group’s organizational testimony in support for Bill 1 (2017)- the Ko‘olauloa Sustainable Communities Plan:



We also created this social media graphic which we shared with our allies in Ko‘olauloa, sent to our O‘ahu Group email list, and posted to our Facebook page:

“Please submit testimony in SUPPORT for Bill 1 (2017) and attend the special Planning Committee meeting on November 29th, 6:30 PM, at Hau‘ula Elementary School’s cafeteria. Bill 1 (2017) updates the Ko‘olauloa Sustainable Communities Plan and helps guide future development on O‘ahu. This bill preserves the rural character of Ko‘olauloa (Northeastern O‘ahu from Ka‘a‘awa to Kahuku) and omits the “Envision La‘ie” development project proposal. We must preserve our remaining agricultural lands on O‘ahu and concentrate development within the urban core. Read the meeting agenda and submit testimony at: bit.ly/koolauloa


News Coverage for the meeting:

Civil Beat Article: http://www.civilbeat.org/2017/11/temple-of-boom-mormon-church-north-shore-housing-plans-hit-roadblock/

Star-Advertiser: http://www.staradvertiser.com/2017/11/29/hawaii-news/malaekahana-development-to-be-discussed-in-meeting/

Star Advertiser: Many hurdles ahead in farming our land

EDITORIAL| INSIGHT

By Maureen O’Connell
November 19, 2017

Stepping up local food production in our island state is a sensible goal. With greater access to fresh, homegrown products, Hawaii could reap economic, environmental and health gains. What’s more, a more robust production could leave us less vulnerable to shortages tied to natural disaster, such as the likes of Hurricane Maria’s hammering of Puerto Rico.

However, challenges accompanying more food production are daunting due to geography-related constraints on farming as well as labor and technology snags, and an escalating demand to plant affordable homes here.

Last fall, when Gov. David Ige addressed the the IUCN World Conservation Congress — an environmental convention held in Honolulu — he announced his “Sustainable Hawai‘i Initiative.” In addition to more protection of watersheds, nearshore waters and various other green-focused objectives, Ige’s plan includes an aim to double Hawaii’s food production by 2020.

So far, that goal is yielding more aspirations than measurable operations.

While the state has a fairly recent fix on commercial crop acreage, it lacks firm figures on how much food is being produced locally versus what’s imported. Agency efforts to hold onto the latter baseline slipped away amid state government’s Great Recession budgetary cuts. Industry researchers estimate that Hawaii imports roughly 90 percent of our food.

Supporters of the call for more local production and greater food security, such as Honolulu’s Ulupono Initiative, an investment firm specializing in environmental sustainability, maintain that while the governor’s 2020 goal is now likely unrealistic, given still-steep hurdles, the push forward should continue.

Among the hurdles is development of a new baseline for measuring local food production.

At this time last year, the state was working with Ulupono Initiative to come up with an online food metrics platform aimed at providing policymakers with a clear statewide picture of food imports and exports. The Agriculture Department spent $90,000 on the computer program, with Ulupono contributing a $160,000 grant. But after long delays in subsequently contracted work that failed to meet the state’s needs, the Agriculture Department pulled the plug.

The state agency is now attempting to address the matter through other efforts. Amy Hennessey, an Ulupono Initiative spokeswoman, said: “We are hopeful this work is continued in some way in the future because the state needs to better understand the total volumes and kinds of food produced locally so that gaps and areas for improvement can be identified.”

Commercial ag charted

The state is faring better with the hurdle of charting commercial agricultural land use. Last year, the Agriculture Department released maps pinpointing farming and ranching operations — the first such update since a 1980 survey.

Done under a contract with the University of Hawaii-Hilo’s Spatial Data Analysis and Visualization Lab, the satellite-based mapping underscores dramatic change in the state’s agricultural profile over the past several decades, with the passing of longstanding sugar and pineapple production.

In 1980 there was a total of 350,830 acres in crop production statewide, 85 percent of which was either sugar or pineapple. By 2015, when the baseline update was completed, total acreage had dropped to 151,830, with just 28 percent dedicated to those two crops. While sugar remained dominant in 2015, with 38,810 acres, most of that land is now fallow following the shuttering of Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Company on Maui late last year.

Today, Hawaii’s current top crops — seed production, commercial forestry and macadamia nuts — are grown primarily for export purposes. The bulk of emerging diversified acreage, which is planted with varieties of leaf, root and melon crops, are consumed locally. Farm land dedicated to those foods increased to 16,904 acres from 7,490 acres.

Accounting for more than three-fourths of the total commercial acreage is pasture land. Its tally in 2015 (761,429 acres) was down from 1.1 million acres in 1980. The decrease, according to the Agriculture Department, is due in large part to removal of remote lands from pasture use by landowners such as Kamehameha Schools and the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands as well as acquisition of pasture properties by the National Park system, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Army.

Noting that drop and the doubling of diversified crops, Hunter Heaivilin, a member of the Sierra Club’s Oahu executive committee, said: “We support expanding food production locally, but in determining where state efforts should be directed, it is important to consider market and land use trends.”

He said the state should be careful to avoid focusing primarily on large-scale operations in attempts to “move the needle” on growing our own food production, whether that’s farming or ranching. Such focus, Heaivilin said, “ignores the contributions of numerous small and mid-size producers entering and already in the marketplace.”

Industry subsidies?

The Hawaii Farm Bureau contends all forms of agriculture should be tapped for growth. But progress will be slow-going unless the Legislature bumps up ag funding, which now adds up to less than 1 percent of the state’s budget, said the bureau’s president, Randy Cabral.

“We need more investments in water infrastructure, drought mitigation, disease and pest research, marketing, transportation and strategies for dealing with labor shortages,” Cabral said. “It is easy to say what needs to be done. Placing agriculture as a priority … will require serious commitment. Infrastructure and capacity-building are critical along with a pragmatic position about advancement of agriculture.”

When asked to respond to a counter-argument that any subsidy of commercial agriculturalists should come from the private sector rather than taxpayers, Cabral said, “As a business, farming and ranching have risks like every other business. However, unlike most other businesses, we have to deal with bad weather, drought, pests and diseases.”

He continued, “We subsidize the tourism industry. We subsidize our film industry. Investments in agriculture is an investment in the very core business of a society. … Even as we live in a global economy, natural disasters and pestilence can isolate us easily as an island state. At that time, it will be too late to regrow agriculture.​ All other industries have the capacity to thrive with a strong agriculture base. Agriculture will not automatically thrive due to a strong film industry.​”

Growing new farmers

Another local food hurdle: growing a new generation of agriculturalists. The average age of a farmer in Hawaii is 60, according to federal data.

In response, the Farm Bureau has introduced state legislation and supports initiatives stressing ag education programs, ranging from Future Farmers of America to 4-H. And Ulupono backs workforce-growing projects. For instance, Hennessey said, it has partnered with Kamehameha Schools to provide grants to Go Farm Hawaii, which provides training for beginning to advanced level farmers.

In addition, she said, “We collaborate with a number of funders statewide including the Kokua Hawaii Foundation to provide support for programs that bring agriculture education and school gardens to schools across Hawaii, increasing appreciation and consumer demand for local food among children and their families.”

The Sierra Club’s Heaivilin said new farmers and training programs are key to future sustainability success as the demand for local produce is now outstripping supply.

Tethered to supply-and-demand concerns, according to the nonprofit, is the “suburbanization” of productive farmland, with Castle & Cooke Hawaii’s Koa Ridge housing development — poised for construction on what had been designated by the state as prime farmland in Central Oahu — serving as the latest example.

The 768-acre site will be covered with 3,500 homes, with 30 percent reserved for sorely needed affordable to moderate-income housing. To offset the ag loss, alternative land was provided for farming operations. Heaivilin said, “This type of approach, called ‘development-supported agriculture,’ has been growing across the country, but our land use and other laws do little to ensure that lands will remain in agriculture in the long term.”

In the case of Koa Ridge, the alternative ag land arrangement has prompted a deal through which the newly acquired land may be divided into for-sale “ag lots” — and that houses may be built on them.

Cabral said as local food production increases, so should policy-related vigilance. “Urban growth boundaries should be established … to protect farmers on the fringe of development,” he said. “Farmers should not continuously be required to defend their right to farm if local food production is a state priority.”

Regarding the challenge of balancing agriculture with other land development, Ulupono’s Hennessey added: “In order to have the ability to produce our own food, we must work to preserve agricultural lands as much as possible and find ways to harmonize development with meaningful food production so that they can peacefully coexist as in years past.”

Star Advertiser: Bikeshare Hawaii CEO pleased by growth, says Biki is evolving

By Nina Wu
November 1, 2017

In its first three months of operation, Bikeshare Hawaii reported that Biki, the first bikeshare program in Honolulu, logged more than 180,000 rides.

Lori McCarney, CEO of Bikeshare Hawaii, said she is pleased with the results of the first-quarter report.

“We want to serve residents and visitors. We want our bikes to be used,” said McCarney, “so I think the growth in users over the period is really what we’re pleased to see. It wasn’t just (that) people came out, tried it out and said, ‘OK, that was fun,’ and went away.”

Since it first launched June 28, Biki has logged 180,272 rides, with average rides per day increasing from 1,735 in July to 2,101 rides in September.

A total of 31,743 unique individuals checked out a Biki in its first three months, according to the report released in October. Of the total, 43 percent were members, meaning they signed up for a monthly pass rather than a single $3.50 ride. The Free Spirit Pass, which offers a bank of 300 minutes for $20, was the most popular option.

With $2 million in state and city startup funds, Bikeshare Hawaii was launched as a nonprofit in June following years of preparation stemming from a feasibility study in 2014 that determined Honolulu could benefit from such a program. Bikeshare Hawaii has a contract with Singapore-­based Secure Bike Share to handle its customer service and day-to-day operations.

FIRST-QUARTER BIKI STATISTICS

>> Total rides: 180,272
>> Unique users: 31,743 (43 percent members, 57 percent casual riders)
>> Most popular option: Free Spirit Pass ($20 for a bank of 300 minutes)
>> Average trip duration: 22 minutes, 25 seconds
>> Top 10 Biki stations: Waikiki (6) and Ala Moana/Kakaako (4)
>> Top three ZIP codes of Biki users: 96815 (Waikiki), 96813 (downtown/Chinatown) and 96826 (McCully/Moiliili)

* Source: Bikeshare Hawaii (as of Sept. 30)
Learn more at gobiki.org.

In June, Bikeshare Hawaii began rolling out 100 Biki stations offering 1,000 turquoise-colored bikes for rent on a combination of public and private properties stretching from Diamond Head to Chinatown. It met with initial resistance from some neighborhoods, most often over the placement of the Biki stations.

The Kapiolani Park Preservation Society did not want stations at the park, for instance, saying Biki is an equipment rental operation with ads on its bikes, which is against its rules. Others complained about the loss of metered parking stalls in increasingly congested neighborhoods like Kakaako.

Currently, Biki stations occupy 34 metered parking stalls in Honolulu, according to the city Department of Transportation Services.

The 10 most popular Biki stations are in the Waikiki, Ala Moana and Kakaako areas. One of them occupies two metered parking spaces in front of ARVO, a cafe on Auahi Street.

Casey Wiggins, co-owner of ARVO at the Salt retail complex, said the Biki station was an adjustment at first. But now she embraces it, and sometimes hops on a Biki bike to get together with friends in Chinatown.

“I think it is drawing people here,” she said. “It’s great exposure for us and part of the healthy, active lifestyle.”

Likewise, Monica Toguchi Ryan, owner of Highway Inn, a restaurant also at the Salt complex, said she rides a Biki almost daily to run errands within a 1-mile radius, whether it’s a hair appointment or a trip to Longs Drugs. She and her husband also take the Biki to get coffee at Ward Village on Sunday mornings.

“I love it,” said Ryan, who also lives in Kakaako. “It’s wonderful to have this Biki station here.”

Not everyone is pleased with Biki, which remains a point of contention in Chinatown.

Tony Nguyen, whose family owns Lin’s Lei Shop, sees both the bulb-out and Biki station at the corner of Maunakea and North King streets as contributing to a drop in customers. The Biki stop is within a bulb-out near several longtime businesses, including the lei shop, Jerry’s Jade & Gems and an antique furniture shop.

“This Maunakea strip is extra busy,” he said, “especially for a retail shop where we rely on customers coming in and out.”

Customers used to stop along the curb to purchase a lei, but now they cannot. He admits it was previously a no-parking zone, but customers were willing to take that risk. Potentially, it could be lost parking citation revenue for the city, he said.

“I get it,” said Nguyen, who is personally boycotting the Biki. “More bikes, less cars.”

He just wishes Bikeshare Hawaii would move the station elsewhere, a block farther makai, for instance.

McCarney, who is also a member of the Downtown-­Chinatown Neighborhood Board, said the city had planned the bulb-outs in advance of the bikeshare rollout and suggested the station within it. She wants to gather various constituents of Chinatown to determine where additional Biki stations could go to bring more visitors to the neighborhood.

The Biki stations that are often among the 10 least used, she said, are the ones at Beretania and Isenberg streets, Halekauwila and South streets and by Aloha Tower Marketplace (Bishop Street and Aloha Tower Drive).

McCarney said Bikeshare Hawaii is evaluating those stations but is not likely to move them any time soon.

Once residents move into Keauhou Place, she said, perhaps the adjacent Halekauwila/South streets station will get more use. As for Aloha Tower Marketplace, perhaps the station is not as visible as it could be for students at Hawaii Pacific University and could benefit from more publicity. The Beretania/Isenberg location near the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii is primarily residential, so it might take longer to catch on, she said.

A few Biki stations at Ala Moana Regional Park moved due to sprinkler renovations. One at University Avenue was adjusted a few feet to improve drivers’ line of sight. McCarney said moving stations will get more difficult as time goes on.

In an effort to generate interest, Bikeshare Hawaii partnered with about 20 restaurants to offer discounts for Biki users in August and is partnering with retail businesses for its next promotion, “Biki Buys,” in November. Biki is also now offering a “Request a Biki Stop” form online.

“We’re still learning,” said McCarney. “The best thing we can do is listen to the community, our users, look at patterns and then try to build a substantial transportation system that works for the community. So we’re never going to be done making improvements.”

Star-Advertiser: Kahala Hotel drops commercial expansion request

By Allison Schaefers
August 15, 2017

BRUCE ASATO / JUNE 12 The Kahala Hotel & Resort has withdrawn its request to the Board of Land and Natural Resources to triple its beach easement.

 

The Kahala Hotel &Resort is withdrawing its controversial request to obtain a rare nonexclusive easement to use about an acre of public shoreline for commercial enterprises.

The Kahala Hotel notified Richard Turbin, chairman of the Waialae­-Kahala Neighborhood Board, on Monday that it had sent a request to the state Department of Land and Natural Resources asking to withdraw a draft environmental assessment filed April 23 by the hotel’s Japanese owner, Resorttrust Hawaii LLC.

The move was “out of respect for and appreciation of the comments and concerns expressed by the community,” Kahala Hotel General Manager Gerald Glennon said in a letter to Turbin.

Glennon said the hotel wants “to engage in on-going dialogue” and hopes to provide regular updates at the Waialae-Kahala Neighborhood Board monthly meetings. Glennon also invited Turbin to meet with him at the property next week.

“The Kahala Hotel values its relationship with the community and is committed to developing effective ways of encouraging and welcoming community input,” Glennon said.

The Kahala Hotel did not return a call from the Honolulu Star-Advertiser to clarify whether it intends to resubmit a new plan after a period of public outreach.

The Kahala Hotel had originally planned to spend $900,000 to improve a 2.65-acre parcel, including leasehold and state beach lands. In return, it wanted to expand its outdoor wedding ceremonies to three state parcels from two as well as carve out enough space to offer torch-lighting ceremonies and rides in traditional sailing outrigger canoes.

But the plan was not well received by the community.

The Waialae-Kahala Neighborhood Board, the Surfrider Foundation, the Sierra Club and some Oahu residents mounted protests to the hotel’s proposal. Critics said it would set a dangerous precedent by favoring commercial interests over public beach access, which is a hard-won right in Hawaii.

The hotel, its owners and consultants also were faulted for failing to notify key stakeholders before the draft environmental assessment comment period expired and electing not to provide updates to the standing-room-only crowds gathered at the June and July Waialae-Kahala Neighborhood Board meetings.

At the Waialae-Kahala Neighborhood Board’s behest, Department of Land and Natural Resources Chairwoman Suzanne Case sent a June 28 letter to the hotel’s representative asking that it consider refiling the draft environmental assessment to trigger an additional 30-day comment period. That request had gone unanswered until now.

“What a turnaround. I’m happy but I don’t trust it yet,” said Diamond Head resident Linda Wong, who helped organize community protests. “It’s in their best interest to push the pause button because of the breadth of community concerns. We’ve fought a hard battle and we’ll stay with it.’


Mahalo nui to Sierra Club volunteer Dave Raney for his leadership on behalf of the Sierra Club O‘ahu Group to protect beach access in the Kahala area. Dave attended many meetings and hearings, wrote letters, made phone calls, and coordinated community efforts which have resulted in the Kahala Hotel withdrawing its proposal. Mahalo also to Linda Wong, Richard Turbin, Jim Nicolay, Matt Moore, and many more community activists that have helped on this project.