Haleiwa Plantation Village- Bill 55 and Bill 56 (2017)

The O‘ahu Group submitted the following testimony in opposition to the proposed Haleiwa Plantation Village in Bill 55 (2017) and Bill 56 (2017). The Zoning and Housing Committee unanimously deferred both bills at the August 3rd, 2017 Special Committee Meeting in Haleiwa. More information about the Bills and the result of the hearing can be found in the Civil Beat article below. Many thanks to North Shore residents Jen Homcy, Blake McElheny, and Kathleen Elliot for their guidance on this issue to the O‘ahu Group:

Aloha Chair Pine, Vice Chair Anderson, and members of the Zoning and Housing Committee,

On behalf of the Sierra Club O‘ahu Group’s 8,000 members and supporters, we oppose Bill 55 (2017) and Bill 56 (2017), which would rezone land in Haleiwa from agricultural to urban/residential for the proposed Haleiwa Plantation Village (HPV) project. We respectfully request that the Zoning and Housing Committee oppose Bill 55 and Bill 56 in light of the following inadequacies and issues:

Development on agricultural lands- The O‘ahu Group of the Sierra Club is generally opposed to up zoning agricultural lands for development because we believe it is an urgent priority to increase food production on O‘ahu. In this we take our cue from researchers and faculty at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, who are increasingly sounding the alarm about the need to rapidly increase the amount of food grown in Hawai‘i. This is to meet the mounting threat of global food shortages and food price inflation as a result of climate change, as well as the threat to the just-in-time food distribution network from the anticipated increase in frequency and destructiveness of severe weather events. The HPV proposal would convert valuable agricultural land to urban uses in rural Haleiwa. The applicant argues that the land is unfit for farming, however, the land is currently being farmed! It is planted with fruit trees and adjacent areas around the Haleiwa Marsh currently farm taro, lotus, and other crops. Furthermore, a portion of the land has been proposed for designation as Important Agricultural Land by the City & County of Honolulu, while most of the Northern Property has soils that are rated Prime, meaning that they are regarded as high-quality soils.

Affordable housing uncertainty- The HPV project purports to add 29 lots with up to 35 homes within R5 zoning. New rules administered by the Honolulu Department of Planning and Permitting would potentially permit additional Accessory Dwelling Units, which would increase the number of allowable homes in the development area. While the Sierra Club understands the need for new affordable housing for local families on the North Shore and indeed supports construction of housing within the urban core of the legacy towns of La‘ie, Kahuku, and Haleiwa, we believe that such development should occur in denser configurations that are pedestrian and transit oriented, not as traditional single family homes. The law requires that 30 percent of the lots be made affordable to people earning not more than 140 percent of area median income, but because these will be individually sold as vacant lots, there is no guarantee that the homes that are ultimately built will in fact be occupied by local families in need of “workforce” housing.

Lack of community support- The Honolulu Planning Commission recommended that the City Council reject the HPV proposal in March 2017. Additionally, the North Shore Neighborhood Board passed a Resolution in October 2016 opposing the State Land Use Boundary change from Agriculture to Urban. The Sierra Club is bound by its bylaws to support community concerns on environmental issues wherever possible. We believe the Council should show deference to the concerns of the community as expressed by the Neighborhood Board.

We appreciate that a special Zoning and Housing Committee meeting is being held in Haleiwa, so that community members directly affected by the proposed housing project will be given an opportunity to raise their concerns. We ask that you consider the issues above and vote against Bill 55 (2017) and Bill 56 (2017).

Council Committee Defers Proposal To Develop Haleiwa Farmland

Two bills would have rezoned seven acres of agricultural land to urban or residential and allowed for up to 35 homes
By Natanya Friedheim / August 2, 2017

The Honolulu City Council zoning committee deferred two bills Tuesday night that would have rezoned seven acres of agricultural land in Haleiwa to either residential or urban.

Scott Wallace, who bought the land in 2010, said he wanted to divide it into 29 lots and sell each for an estimated price of $175,000 to $200,000. Bills 55 and 56 would have allowed him to do so.

The land sits along Achiu Lane, just off Kamehameha Highway makai of the North Shore Marketplace.

The nearly three-hour meeting at a gym in Haleiwa lasted till nearly 10 p.m.

Scott Wallace purchased the Haleiwa property in 2010 with the intention of developing it residentially. Courtesy of Malia Evans.

After the public testimony, the room grew tense as Councilman Ernie Martin, who represents the North Shore but is not a member of the committee, stated his opposition to the proposed development despite considering Wallace a “good friend.”

“There’s overwhelming consensus against the project,” Martin said. “I’ve been very reluctant to support any type of development in my district … I subscribe to that philosophy that growth should be more directed towards urban Honolulu as well as the second city.”

The majority of attendees who testified opposed the bills. Many argued they would set a dangerous precedent for rezoning agricultural land for housing.

There also were concerns about Haleiwa’s already heavy traffic.

In March, the Honolulu Planning Commission also opposed the proposal and recommended the council reject it.

“I see that this project could provide some solid opportunities for affordable housing,” said Councilman Ikaika Anderson. However, he added, “it’s obvious that the community still has a lot of concern here.”

Anderson was one of thee committee members at the meeting. He and Councilman Brandon Elefante supported committee Chair Kymberly Pine’s call to defer the bill.

Councilman Ron Menor, who attended but is not a committee member, said the decision demonstrated the council’s consideration of public interests.

“I hope that tonight’s recommendation from the chair and this committee’s support for her recommendation demonstrates that as council members we do listen to the public, we do listen to the community,” he said.