I've been putting off doing this post for a couple days because it takes so much energy for me to "gather" my thoughts. This is my personal opinion and not a personal attack on your opinion. Agreed? That means that I'm not criticizing your opinion so don't take it personal!
December 7th, Helbert Hastert & Fee Planners (on behalf of the City & County of Honolulu) held a meeting at Kahuku High School and opened the forum up to the public for commentary on the proposed Envision Laie expansion. I haven't put a great deal of time into researching Envision Laie specifically. I don't think a person really needs to do the in depth research to oppose it. In the opposite direction, if you did do the in depth research to find a reason to support it, I think you'd find that there's no basis for supporting it.
Let me set up what I think are pertinent facts to the ongoing controversy.
- The current plan for Ko'olau Loa (pdf document of the actual plan) does not include expansion of Malaekahana.
- Hawaii Reserves Inc. (HRI) manages property for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which means all of La'ie.
- In 2003, HRI purchased Malaekahana and began the planning process for "Envision Laie".
The current City and County of Honolulu sustainability plan for Ko'olau Loa wishes to preserve the agriculture land and preservations land. In fact, it seeks to develop agriculture rather than build houses.
There are several guidelines that must be followed when dealing with the City and County of Honolulu and other governmental agencies. There are specific procedures in place. In the case of Envision Laie's proposed expansion of La'ie, their proposal was never a part of the City's plan. Envision Laie is seeking to extend the deadline for proposed changes to the City plan and eventually amend the City plan to include the expansion of La'ie. A good example of a well-executed City plan is Kapolei whose proposed development was many decades in the making.
The meeting held on December 7th was just one in a series of several public opinion meetings. SIDENOTE: I must say that I am grateful that my community is so passionate about the future of our ahupua'a. Every single meeting I have attended in regards to this issue has been standing-room-only. At the heart of the argument is HRI is petitioning the City to first, convert ag land into residential. Second, "permit" them to begin construction (by amending the City plan). The opposition prefers that the City maintain its current stance of preserving ag land.
HRI and Envision Laie was very clever in that they hired a mainland marketing firm (rather than an economic development firm) to push forward their development plan. Several sources point out this fact. I think it is a valid point to consider in determining an opinion on the issues.
Some of the points I have gathered from sitting in on several of the Envision Laie meetings are as follows:
- Proposed construction of over a thousand new homes and condo's
- Proposed new shopping center
- Expansion of BYU-HAWAII
- Full expansion of Turtle Bay that was previously struck from the City plan based on community opposition
I don't know why La'ie community members are enamored with this plan. What is attractive about more houses and more hotels? At the meeting, I was so taken aback by the community members who support Envision Laie. They did not give me one valid reason for the expansion. Many testified that they wanted this to go through for their kids. What exactly does that mean? Many said that additional housing is moving toward sustainability. Last I checked, houses can't be eaten. BYU students testified that they didn't have anywhere to live. Fluff!
I really could go on and on about this topic and maybe I will revisit it in the future. For me, HRI/ Envision Laie cares only for the interests of the LDS Church. (Yes, I am LDS and No, I don't have to follow blindly.) It is HRI's right to protect their interests. I just get all irritated with community members who have effectively been "sold" the plan without really truly thinking about how sustainable the plan is or isn't. Most supporters like the idea of "affordable" housing. A thousand homes will go very fast. Then what? What will be the next proposal? Will it still be "affordable" after the inventory is gone? How does HRI plan to impose a measure where 50% of the homes will go to community members? Isn't housing discrimination illegal?
I am just NOT SOLD on this plan and I haven't even touched on the economics of Envision Laie or the imposition of colonial practices onto the host culture of these islands. Maybe that will be another post. I just can't see the long term benefit of the development of La'ie.