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: Red Hill fuel ruling must quicken fixes


February 26, 2018

The existence of the Navy’s underground fuel storage facility at Red Hill — constructed during the World War II era — was a state secret until the early 1990s, when the tank farm was declassified. That disclosure prompted petroleum leak-related worries and other concerns about risks tied to the facility’s 20 aging fuel tanks — each large enough to swallow Aloha Tower. They’re perched just 100 feet above Oahu’s primary aquifer, which supplies drinking water to more than 400,000 residents, from Moanalua to Hawaii Kai.

In 1992, state legislation was enacted directing Hawaii’s Health Department to put in place rules requiring upgrade or replacement of underground storage tanks tethered to various public services and private businessess by late 1998. The law is part of a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency program that tasks states with setting standards for the EPA to enforce.

But in a misguided move, DOH exempted the Red Hill Underground Fuel Storage Facility from the deadline-driven lineup.

It now comes as a relief that a state judge has corrected that misstep. Ruling last week in favor of the Sierra Club in its lawsuit against the Health Department, Circuit Judge Jeffrey P. Crabtree put the matter succinctly: “The statute trumps the admin rule.”

The DOH has countered that it’s already in the process of adopting new rules that do not exempt the military, which it expects to begin enforcing in October. But the court’s opinion must spur the state to move faster — and push the Navy to pick up its pace in addressing needed Red Hill upgrades.

Concern about the facility’s potential to taint drinking water quality shot up in the aftermath of a 27,000-gallon fuel leak in January 2014. The next year, the Navy entered into an agreement with the EPA and the Health Department (site regulator) that requires it to research and evaluate structural upgrades to the concrete tanks, which are fitted with quarter-inch steel plates.

After much foot-dragging, in December, the Navy released a study that examines six options ranging from enhancing current maintenance and inspection to a potentially high-priced pick that involves creating a carbon steel tank within a tank. The EPA, Health Department and Navy are now using the study, along with community input and other studies, to select a final upgrade option.

The military needs the Red Hill facility’s flow of fuel to support vessels and aircraft in its Pacific theater. Rear Adm. Brian Fort, commander of Navy Region Hawaii, has pointed out that in the last 12 years more than $200 million has been spent to continue modernization, and that recent tests at monitoring wells and other sources “confirm our drinking water continues to be safe to drink.”

Oahu residents, however, are due for updated protections. Red Hill’s tanks are now nearly 80 years old. And studies document leaks dating back to late 1940s. In all, reports suggest there have been more than 30 leaks, with at least 170,000 gallons of fuel seeping away from tanks.

The Sierra Club is correct in contending that pace toward a better buffer against potential environmental and public health threats is too slow, particularly with looming EPA budget cuts expected under the Trump administration. Right now, we cannot rely heavily on the federal government to prioritize protections of our state’s natural environment.

After Wednesday’s ruling in Circuit Court, Marti Townsend, director of the Sierra Club of Hawaii, said: “It’s time to fix up the Red Hill fuel tanks or shut them down.” Agreed. Four years have passed since the worrisome tank fuel leak that the Navy has blamed on poorly performed work by a contractor and the military branch’s own insufficient oversight.

It’s frustrating to see that the Navy and environmental regulators have yet to even settle on a satisfactory fix. A selection that prioritizes public safety should be made quickly.

Support Trail Funding SB 2331 SD1

Like to Hike? Support SB 2331 SD1, a bill that would fund the Department of Land and Natural Resources “Na Ala Hele” Program. Na Ala Hele is the State of Hawai‘i Trail and Access Program- managing over 128 trail and road features that span 855 miles throughout the state!

How you can help:

SB 2331 SD1 Relating to Trails has a hearing next week! Please submit written testimony in SUPPORT for this bill by Tuesday, February 27, at 11am. You can submit your support via email to

You can use the following testimony as a guide:

“Aloha Chair Dela Cruz, Vice Chair Keith-Agaran, and members of the Ways and Means Committee. My name is ________ and I live in __________. I’m writing in strong support for SB 2331 SD 1, which appropriates funding for “Na Ala Hele”, the State’s Trail and Access Program. Keeping up with the increasing impacts on our beloved hiking trails is a constant challenge for the State. This bill would provide critical funds for improving access to and maintaining state controlled recreational trails statewide and promoting hiker safety and hiker etiquette education and outreach. I love to hike because ______________ and believe funding our trails is so important because ______________. Please support SB 2331 SD1 and pass this bill.”

Thank you for your support in protecting our trails and promoting hiker education and safety!





Hawaiʻi’s mayors oppose Trump Administration repeal of Clean Power Plan

City and County of Honolulu
County of Maui
County of Hawaiʻi
County of Kauaʻi

Hawaiʻi’s mayors oppose Trump Administration repeal of Clean Power Plan

Honolulu, Hilo, Wailuku, and Līhuʻe — Leaders from the City and County of Honolulu, Hawaiʻi County, Maui County, and Kauaʻi County have joined 233 mayors, from 46 US states and territories, representing over 51 million Americans to oppose the Trump Administration’s proposed repeal of the Clean Power Plan (CPP).

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell, Hawaiʻi County Mayor Harry Kim, Maui County Mayor Alan Arakawa, and Kauaʻi County Mayor Bernard P. Carvalho Jr. all signed onto a letter in opposition to the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Repeal of Carbon Pollution Emission Guidelines for Existing Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units.[1]

“The Clean Power Plan is a fundamental building block in the nation’s response to climate change, and was a hallmark achievement of the EPA under the Obama Administration,” said Mayor Caldwell. “The Clean Power Plan encourages communities to embrace a future that will lead to new opportunities, cutting edge technology and higher paying jobs. This is a vision the City and County of Honolulu has embraced and it’s already paying dividends through sound planning for new infrastructure.”

With over a third of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions coming from the electricity sector, the four mayors recognize that the Clean Power Plan is essential to the United States’ ability to curb future GHG emissions and live up to its commitments under the Paris Agreement. All four mayors previously joined Governor David Ige on June 5, 2017 to commit to uphold the Paris Agreement just days after President Donald J. Trump announced he would withdraw the United States from the international accord to address global warming.

“It is important for the federal government to lead our transition to a cleaner, healthier, more affordable, and more resilient energy future,” said County of Hawai‘i Mayor Kim. “The Clean Power Plan is a step in the right direction and is aligned with local efforts to reduce greenhouse gases, improve energy efficiency, and use renewable energy sources. This is a mission that we must all be a part of.”

Signing the letter signals Hawaiʻi’s continued commitment to transition away from dependence on fossil fuels and reinforces a 2015 state law that requires 100 percent of Hawaiʻi’s electricity to be generated by renewable sources by 2045. Hawaiʻi’s 2045 goal was the nation’s first such benchmark.

“The benefit of the Clean Power Plan is twofold: Providing direct health benefit from avoiding air pollutants from combustion, along with reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” stated Maui Mayor Arakawa. “It is gratifying to stand in solidarity with so many mayors at the local level, where power plants pollute, and continue down the path of a cleaner future.”

Hawaiʻi is the only state that entirely supports the Climate Mayors network through its four mayors’ participation. In signing this letter opposing repeal of the CPP, they are joined by other members of the Climate Mayor’s network (, which includes Los Angeles, Houston, Portland, New York, and Puerto Rico.

“Kaua‘i County is working hard to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions because we understand the cost of inaction. Everyone – at all levels of government, from small towns, to states, all the way up to our federal government, needs to be a part of this,” stated Mayor Carvalho Jr. “The Clean Power Plan is a key piece of that effort across the U.S.”

The actions announced today by the chief executives of the four counties are in alignment with the state of Hawaiʻi’s recent commitment to the goals of the Paris Agreement that seeks to reduce GHG emissions and keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius. Sea level rise is contributing to coastal erosion that recently destroyed part of a historic cemetery on Maui and caused a bike path on the North Shore of Oʻahu at Sunset Beach to partially collapse; and according to the recently published Hawaiʻi Sea Level Rise Vulnerability and Adaption Report, the expected future sea level rise is estimated to cost $19 billion in “loss of land and structures” along with 6,500 flooded structures, 38 miles of flooded major roads, and 19,800 displaced people.[2]

On December 12, 2017, the four mayors came together on the Polynesian voyaging canoe Hōkūleʻa in committing to transform Hawaiʻi’s public and private ground transportation to 100 percent renewable fuel sources by 2045.


The Clean Power Plan was originally proposed in August 2015. It was a signature policy achievement of the EPA under the Obama Administration, and was shaped by years of unprecedented outreach and public engagement.

Shortly after issuance of the final rule, 27 states, led by current EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt in his prior capacity as Attorney General of Oklahoma, challenged the CPP on a range of legal and technical concerns. The U.S. Supreme Court stayed the CPP in response, immediately halting implementation in February 2016.

On October 10, 2017, the EPA filed its proposal to repeal the Plan. Governor Ige posted a statement opposing the Trump Administration’s proposal to repeal on October 11, 2017.



[1] 82 Fed. Reg. 48,035 (Oct. 16, 2017), EPA–HQ–OAR–2017–0355.

[2] See Hawaiʻi Sea Level Rise Vulnerability and Adaptation Report at

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.”

Climate Change Commissioners sworn in






Honolulu – A swearing in ceremony was held today in Honolulu Hale for the five members of the new Climate Change Commission: Rosanna ‘Anolani Alegado, Makena Coffman, Charles ‘Chip’ Fletcher, Victoria Keener, and Bettina Mehnert. Mayor Kirk Caldwell appointed all five commission members, who were confirmed by the Honolulu City Council earlier in the day.

Mayor Caldwell, Managing Director Roy K. Amemiya Jr. and Deputy Managing Director Georgette Deemer attended the ceremony after the oath of office was administered to the five commission members, thus affirming their positions as officers of the city.

The Climate Change Commission was created after O‘ahu voters approved an amendment to the City Charter in the 2016 general election that mandated the creation of the new panel. The role of the Climate Change Commission is to gather the latest science and information on climate change impacts to Hawai‘i and provide advice and recommendations to Mayor Caldwell, executive departments and the City Council as they look to draft policy and engage in planning for future climate scenarios.

“The five members of the Climate Change Commission are experts in their respective fields and will have a tremendous impact on our island city as we embark on a new era of sustainability and resiliency in the face of sea level rise and increased storm risk,” said Mayor Caldwell. “I thank each of them for taking on this volunteer role and I know their hard work will result in progress that will benefit our residents for decades to come.”

Commission members have agreed to meet at least once every month with the first meeting scheduled on Wednesday, February 7, at 3 p.m. in the City Council Meeting Room in Honolulu Hale.

“Our office is thrilled that Mayor Caldwell has selected a diverse group of global and local climate experts to this important commission and that the City Council confirmed all of them unanimously,” said Josh Stanbro, executive director of the city’s Office of Climate Change, Sustainability and Resiliency, who also serves as the city’s Chief Resilience Officer. “It is critical that we base our policies on data and the latest science in order to protect our quality of life and O‘ahu’s economy for the long-term.”


Climate Change Commission members:

Rosanna ‘Anolani Alegado, PhD

Rosie Alegado’s lab investigates the role of microbes across spatial and temporal scales. By bringing together microbial ecologists and biogeochemists her group examines the influence of microbial communities on coastal ocean processes, especially in light of a changing climate. A recent project in her lab involves using indigenous historical records to reconstruct Hawaiian regional climate beyond conventional instrument records in collaboration with the International Pacific Research Center and Puakea Nogelmeier at the Kawaihuelani Center for Hawaiian Language.

Makena Coffman, PhD

Makena Coffman is a Professor and Chair of the Department of Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. Her research interests include greenhouse gas mitigation, energy policy and alternative transportation strategies. Coffman is a Research Fellow with the University of Hawai‘i Economic Research Organization (UHERO) and has worked extensively with state and county governments on issues of greenhouse gas policy and climate action planning. 

Charles ‘Chip’ Fletcher, PhD

Charles ‘Chip’ Fletcher is Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, and Professor of Geology and Geophysics. He teaches graduate and undergraduate courses emphasizing Earth Science and Climate Change on Pacific Islands. Over 30 graduate and undergraduate students have received degrees in his research group. Fletcher engages in community service and is the recipient of several awards, including the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Chancellor’s Citation for Meritorious Teaching (twice), the U.S. EPA Environmental Achievement Award in Climate Change Science, the Hung Wo and Elizabeth Lau Ching Foundation Award for Faculty Service to the Community, and the Robert W. Clopton Award for Distinguished Community Service. Fletcher is also a Fellow of the Geological Society of America.

Victoria Keener, PhD

Victoria Keener is the Lead Principal Investigator of the Pacific Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments (Pacific RISA) program, and earned a PhD in Agricultural and Biological Engineering from the University of Florida, specializing in hydro-climatological research dealing with the effects of climate variability. Keener coordinates an interdisciplinary team of social and physical scientists that aims to reduce the vulnerability of Pacific Island communities to climate change by translating academic research into actionable knowledge for a variety of stakeholders at the local, state, and regional level – especially regarding the management of fresh water resources. She is the Lead Editor and a Chapter Author for the 2012 Pacific Islands Regional Climate Assessment (PIRCA) report and the lead author of the Pacific Islands Chapter of the forthcoming 4th U.S. National Climate Assessment.

Bettina Mehnert, FAIA, LEED AP O+M

A sustainability-focused community business leader, Bettina Mehnert is president and CEO of the design firm AHL and has multiple national leadership roles with the Urban Land Institute, and locally with Hawaiʻi Green Growth, the Sustainable Business Forum and the Aloha + Challenge. Under her leadership AHL has been recognized as a top firm nationally and locally, including being named by the publication Engineering News-Record as one of the top 100 Green firms in the U.S. She was also instrumental in launching AHL’s one percent Pro Bono Program, where nonprofits receive pro bono architectural services that result in significant advancement of programs such as the Rain Forest Pavilion for the Hawai‘i Nature Center and the Rooftop Food and Job Training Garden for the Institute for Human Services.

Honolulu launches electric bus pilot project

It’s official! The first zero-emission electric bus in Hawai‘i has arrived! This Proterra bus will be tested on 23 city routes as a pilot project for The Bus. Thank you to our Honolulu county leadership for taking this important step towards 100% clean ground transportation. Photo by Honolulu Office of Climate Change, Sustainability and Resiliency


Above: Press Conference with Mayor Caldwell, the Department of Transportation Services, Oahu Transit Services, the Office of Climate Change, Sustainability, and Resiliency, Councilmembers Elefante, Manahan, and Fukunaga, Hawaiian Electric Company, Proterra, Blue Planet Foundation, and the Sierra Club O‘ahu Group.

Media coverage:


City unveils electric bus


City unveils new electric bus pilot project for city fleet

Hawai‘i News Now:

Hawaii’s new electric bus pilot project unveiled


Support for new Climate Change Commissioners

The 2016 Charter Amendment that created Honolulu’s Office of Climate Change, Sustainability, and Resiliency also resulted in the formation of a “Climate Change Commission.” The Climate Change Commission consists of five members with “expertise in climate change in Hawai‘i, which shall meet no less than twice annually for the purpose of gathering the latest science and information on climate change effects in the city and providing advice as is deemed appropriate to the executive for climate change and sustainability, the mayor, council and executive departments of the city.” (2016 General Election Charter Amendment Question No. 7)

We submitted the following testimony in support for the confirmation of all 5 Commissioner appointments before the January PWIS Committee meeting: