Planning Decision Will Have Brutal Consequences for All
by Dr. Kioni Dudley
On July 11, we could lose another huge one. One that will have brutal daily impacts on hundreds of thousands of commuters. One that will eventually destroy O’ahu as a tourist destination. One that will imperil our food security and threaten our future survival.
On July 11, the City Planning Commission will pass or deny the ‘Ewa Development Plan (EDP), which directs the future for the whole Leeward area.
Let’s talk traffic: With roughly 50,000 cars currently using the west-side freeways during the rush hours, we already have the worst traffic in the US. The ‘Ewa Development Plan will add more than 15,000 cars. There is no possible way to accommodate them, even with rail. The H-1/H-2 merge cannot be widened. Adding more cars will produce a surreal bottleneck at the merge, with complete standstill upstream.
The EDP will add an average of one half hour each way for every Leeward and Central commute. That is five more hours a week sitting in traffic, almost another full workday. What will that do to your home life and your quality of work -- stressed out, angry, and fatigued on the job and at home, missing the enjoyment of your kids growing up? What will one more hour mean for unsupervised latch key kids? Will they find family in gangs, drugs? How much more will you spend on gasoline?
The EDP also takes your farmland -- 33% of the O’ahu land putting fresh food on your table. Is that okay? We import 90% of our food, and store less than a week’s supply on island. We need that farmland.
The population growth in the EDP will force us into desalinated water in 2018. It’s terribly expensive and not good tasting.
The entire tourist industry also needs to wake up. The Golden Goose is scheduled for the hatchet. Ocean view-planes from H-1 will blocked by a 10’ high, red-dirt stained, cement block wall. The country resort, Ko ‘Olina, will have unbroken urbanization from airport to hotel lobby. Isn’t this what tourists try to get away from?
No one knows these things. So no one cares.
Why don’t they know? The City administration is ramming this through without public input in order to get it passed before the election, as a final gift to developers and big landowners at the people’s expense. The Plan was brought to the Neighborhood Boards after the comment period had passed. Three Boards have passed resolutions asking the Planning Commission to defer consideration of the Plan for a year.
This ‘Ewa Development Plan is a plan for the past. It’s the thinking of 30 years ago. A license for ugly urban sprawl and more bedroom communities. We’ve already reached the dead-end it leads to.
We need a plan for the future. One that puts a city in the Second City, providing good jobs and getting people off of the freeway. One that prepares for the loss of Ewa Beach and Iroquois Point (and our airports and harbors) to rising seas. One that anticipates peak oil prices, and world population explosion, and expected world food shortages. One that recognizes we’ve reached our island carrying capacity, and perhaps limits issuing water meters in order to limit in-migration. One that understands the need for a lush tropical Paradise to attract tourists. One that’s guided by aloha ‘aina, love for the land. And one that deals with Hawaiian rights to a nation. This Ewa Development Plan does none of these things.
In the next decade we must spend billions of dollars on road repairs, new sewers, and water main replacement. We need to retool our workforce for these good jobs in order to avoid bringing in tens of thousands of new workers and their families. The EDP ignores this entirely.
The 'Ewa Development Plan was adopted in 1997. It was to have been revised every five years. Fifteen years later, the City is pushing it through before the elections. This is wrong. It will have brutal consequences for us all.
Please help to head off passage of the ‘Ewa Development Plan on July 11. Write the City Planning Commission at firstname.lastname@example.org. Take a stand. Send this to friends.
Dr. Kioni Dudley chairs the Save O’ahu Farmlands Alliance. Find out more at SaveOahuFarmlands.org.