Gathering Place

Glenn Oamilda

Thursday, October 2, 2003

Traffic crawls along Fort Weaver Road in Ewa at 5:30 p.m.

Politics and the ‘beast’
worsen Ewa Plains’ woes

When the Ewa Plains was designated the Second City, the City and County of Honolulu envisioned huge windfall profits from the booming housing construction along the Fort Weaver Road corridor in Ewa. Plagued by greed, scandals and mismanagement in the Ewa Villages rehab program and the West Loch projects, the city was forced to abandon its Housing Department forever.

Demoralized, the city, by the middle 1990s, was overwhelmed by approval requests for land zoning and re-zoning, waivers, amendments and permits for housing construction. Unable to control growth and development in the Ewa area, or even attempt to mitigate the mounting impacts, it became clear that the city had yielded most of its inherent governing powers to the developers, landowners and politicians. Thus, the thought of a "balanced growth" on the Ewa Plains envisioned by the guidelines and enforceable provisions of the Ewa Development Plan had all been for naught. When the city was left dying, sapped of political power, the developers morphed into a beast, with the landowner and politicians embedded in its belly, and moved in for the kill, strangling the city of its last breath and leaving it powerless in the region.

Now the beast is loose and free to roam. It slithers along the Ewa landscape, showing no emotion. It hungers only for profits. It waits patiently for buyers' markets with no rush to build out, or concerns for deadlines. It hisses and sneers at those who question its behavior; its attitude never changes. The beast has unleashed havoc on the residents and homeowners, as well. The mounting impact has intensified to the point where living in Ewa has become unbearable -- mentally, physically and financially. And too, it shows no compassion for Ewa's eroding quality of life and lifestyle.

Traffic for years had been a major problem and it continues to balloon. Currently, there are 10 traffic signals and two pedestrian-activated lights from Ewa Beach extending mauka to the H-1, a five-mile stretch. The two housing developers along Fort Weaver Road, Haseko and Ewa by Gentry, continue to build at a rampant, uncontrolled, fast-tracked pace. At the mercy of the beast, the city's Planning and Permitting Department approved Haseko's request in July for an additional 940 units; and by early 2004, Ewa by Gentry is expected to submit an application for 1,800 units. Commuters can easily calculate the additional cars they will have to contend with daily.

This past 2003 legislative session, monies were appropriated to add yet another traffic light at Honowai Street and Kunia Road in Waipahu, about 100 yards makai from the entrance to H-1. If installed, it will result in traffic chaos! The Ewa community has asked Governor Lingle to withdraw funding, but she probably cannot do it. Sen. Cal Kawamoto of Waipahu, who wields considerable legislative and political clout, will emerge from the belly of the beast to squash her attempt to do so. This will be seen as the beast's final gratification -- a battle between people and communities.

However, the people of Ewa continue to believe that a leader will emerge, freeing us from bondage by slaying this ugly beast.

Glenn Oamilda is president of the Ewa Beach Community Association.


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