Lawmakers must address housing, ag land concerns
House Bill 1368
was prompted by concern over the Hokulia project, but I am glad that the parties settled their differences and the project can move ahead. Whatever feelings people had on the development I felt that once all the approvals were granted, it would have been unfair to the developer and lot purchasers to stop them in midstream. This is no longer a concern for the Legislature.
But the agriculture issues and approval process remain a matter of concern. We need to acknowledge the importance of agriculture and that some agriculture is viable on C, D and E-rated lands.
We need to recognize also that farmers cannot compete with other users who can pay more for land. It is not just the classification and availability of land but the amount farmers have to pay for its use.
In view of the foregoing concerns for the farmers, the laws should be clarified so that land classified as agriculture is in fact in agricultural use. Such lands should be in agricultural use, and housing on such property should be incidental to agriculture and not vice versa.
If the agriculture lands are to be primarily for housing, the developers should go back to the Land Use Commission to get a different urban classification. In this connection, the counties should not be permitted to allow primarily housing development on agriculture-zoned lands.
With housing, both home ownership and rental units, for Hawaii's residents decreasing and prices increasing, I am concerned about the opportunity for Hawaii's people to remain in Hawaii. I am amazed that neighbor island real estate sales in recent years have been predominantly by non-residents.
Lawmakers have an obligation to look into the housing market.
George R. Ariyoshi
Former governor of Hawaii
Rapid-transit stop at airport is essential
The success of rapid transit in Honolulu will greatly depend on how wisely the routes are chosen
Of great concern to me is the need for a station located AT the airport, as opposed to one that is merely NEAR the airport (for example, on the mauka side of the H-1 viaduct). There will be a big difference to travelers between these two options, in terms of convenience and travel time, and likely will mean the difference between travelers using rapid transit or not when they go to or from the airport. Imagine how convenient it would be for interisland travelers if they could walk with their luggage directly from the rail transit station to the check-in counter without the delays and other hassles of an intermediate shuttle bus.
A station at the airport (the Aolele Street option) is critical for rapid transit's success in reducing vehicle traffic to/from the airport. "If you build it, they will come," but only if it's convenient.
Little competition does a lot for ticket prices
It's not unusual to hear of Hawaiian or Aloha's frequent flights to the bankruptcy court's protective services, which seem to exceed the seven-year limits of the public at large. What is unusual is their extraordinarily high interisland flight fares that are often the equivalent of a one-way, five-hour flight special to the mainland, with peanuts included. Are we being fleeced, right under our commuter noses?
A new airline decides to join the competitive fray at $39 one way, and what happens? Down they come to match.
I'm waiting for Fair-Deal Pineapple Savings & Loan to open up, with 12 percent interest rates on passbook savings and 18 percent interest on a regular checking account.
John L. Werrill
Nasty water not part of ideal vacation
My family and I spent a wonderful week at the Aston Waikiki Beach two summers ago and look forward to returning. During that visit, during a heavy rainstorm, I noticed a plume of dark, dirty water at the end of the wharf in front of the hotel. For a day, until the plume dissipated, we didn't swim in the ocean. After reading about the current sewage spill
, the No. 1 criteria for me, before returning to Waikiki, will be the condition of the water.
Waikiki without a clean, safe beach is hard to imagine. I hope the city will take on an urgent upgrade to the water/sewage infrastructure.
Guelph, Ontario, Canada
Bush finally reveals his exit strategy
At last! A pull-out date.
According to President Bush, whose word we can trust, our troops will leave Iraq no sooner than Jan. 20, 2009, when the actual date "will be decided by future presidents and future governments of Iraq."
That's great news. With American dead and wounded only around 20,000, another three years will still mean fewer losses than in Vietnam.
Let's look at the bright side. It's a very small price to pay for having brought the blessings of democracy to the peace-loving and appreciative Iraqi people.
John A. Broussard
Comic strip crossed political boundary
I never thought Garry Trudeau would make me cry. I'm a 62-year-old white male Republican from a military family, and I have always thought Trudeau and his "Doonesbury" comic strip were pieces of garbage -- until March 22.
B.D., the helmet-wearing character who lost a leg in Iraq, said, "Nobody owes me anything."
We owe him everything.
Him and Tammy Duckworth, and every soldier, sailor, jarhead or flier who ever lost a limb or life.
Our whole way of life depends on these guys and girls who are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for the rest of us.
Jon K. Evans
Mayor took action for beach park users
Nighttime closure of Ala Moana Beach Park
for "repairs and maintenance" prompts me to say, "Way to go, Mr. Mayor" -- reminiscent of what I and others said years ago when then-Mayor Frank Fasi placed planters along Kalakaua Avenue sidewalks to "solve" the T-shirt vendor problems of that day. Love him, despise him or just plain put up with him, Mayor Frank was a "do something" politician.
The biggest problem of a democracy is the freedom it ascribes to its populous to live in the parks and along the streets and sadly enough, that freedom extends to the freedoms we grant our elected officials to "do nothing" about the social ills of our society. I applaud Mayor Hannemann and his administration for their politically difficult decision to "do something" and clean Ala Moana park for the benefit of millions annually who use that park in deference to the 200-plus who have made it their permanent address. The only further comment I have is, are you listening Madame Governor, state Legislators, city and county council members and other mayors, we have a major statewide problem and it's up to all of us to come up with a solution.
Stephen N. Bischoff
At last there is hope for the homeless
Finally it appears a new day of hope has come for those who are homeless. I have been working with homeless for 20 years on this island, professionally and personally. The challenges have been many. The resources, commitment have always been a grave obstacle.
The recent sweeps of various known homeless locations has two sides. One side of it cruel in the form of inhumanity, arrest, moving people who are already in the deepest hardship of their lives and no less in a time where the rains have taken lives and caused many to be very ill with the flu and severe colds. Stopping programs from trying to bring food and supplies out to help.
On the other hand, it has caused a refreshing hope at the results of these inhumane actions by officials. More people in our community are speaking out on these issues and many are stepping forward saying enough. "Out of sight and out of mind" is less a fact then it has been, which in my eyes equals genuine hope for a change in how we as a community deal with this problem.
To the people who are standing strong, speaking out, demanding change ... bravo! Mahalo! To the media that have allowed and encouraged these voices of hope to be heard at a new level of awareness ... bravo! Mahalo!
We are taking better steps and listening to all the possibilities of hope with some real action possibilities. All we need to do now is pair it all with accountability of the services to be provided and walk the talk.
We have always had the ability to make the changes but not the resources and commitment to back them. Many solutions have been shared, but ignored in the past or even met with consequences. Maybe that is about to change.
There is hope.
Mahalo, thank you!
and the Kau Kau Wagon staff
Parks should be safe for taxpayers, children
I agree with city spokesman Bill Brennan
that it is not the Parks and Recreation Department's responsibility to provide living space and accommodations 24 hours a day. Parks should be a place for local tax-paying residents of all ages to enjoy in a safe and secure environment, without fear of harassment and intimidation.
For six years, I used to run through my local park in Pearl City each week, until homeless set up camp two years ago. After numerous letters to the mayor and governor with no long-lasting results, I quit going. If the city and state do not have the knowledge and guts on how to come together and give the parks back to the taxpayers, then give these "officials" some remedial training from experts on the mainland!
I'm sure the tourist and residents near Ala Moana park welcome these new moves, yet wonder how long it will last. What about the other parks on Oahu and other islands? What about Sand Island, Aiea, Pearl City, Nanakuli, Waianae, Makua, Haleiwa, Kailua? Enough is enough. The problem never should have been allowed to get this bad in the first place.
Self-respect, hard work cure homelessness
I am in no way unsympathetic to the needs of the homeless, but at the same time, did I or anyone reading this have anything to do with their situation?
I, too, was homeless for a very short spell after I moved here from San Francisco in 1994 at the ripe age of 44. I went out, got a job with Sears working part-time as a stock boy for $5.25 per hour and just stayed focused on my long-term plans. I saved my money and moved on to a full-time security officer's job later that year and saved even more money.
Fast-forwarding to 2000, I had saved enough money to start my own business, and I bought my first home in 2005. Is that a dream that all who are homeless can do? Absolutely! It is a matter of how much respect you have for yourself. I see homeless all the time with their signs of "Hungry, will work for food" ending with "God Bless you." I have stopped to talk to these people and offered work -- 100 percent of them declined my offer.
One homeless guy who has a habit of "crying" to get the sympathy vote for extra cash told me he makes more money begging than if he were to sell newspapers, as I suggested. There are many like him.
The city did not create this mess overall. I understand the expense of living in Hawaii, tax increases and so on, but again if I can do it, anyone could. It starts with how much respect you have for yourself and how hungry you really are to help yourself. There are numerous jobs out there to tap into. Go out there, homeless ones, and be all that God wants you to be.