Find common ground in North Shore development
I WOULD like to respond to Jack Lutey's letter of April 30, "Elected officials must oppose development." The Turtle Bay expansion project has divided the North Shore community into two camps for and against the proposed development of five new hotels, built over a long-term period, based on a city special management area permit granted 20 years ago. Both sides claim that the quality of life for North Shore residents will be harmed if the opposing side gets its way.
I do agree with Mr. Lutey that it makes no sense for the Turtle Bay project to go forward based on a 20-year-old shoreline management area permit.
In 20 years' time, conditions of the North Shore and the island of Oahu have changed. If we are to do what's best for the people of the North Shore, the development should go through a process that meets the standards of today and the needs of tomorrow, not those set in 1986.
What have been the significant changes? For one thing, traffic on the North Shore has increased dramatically over the years, particularly along Kamehameha Highway, due to the tremendous popularity of the surf meets, people flocking annually in awe of the high surf and the enjoyment of the world-renowned beaches by both locals and visitors.
During the past 20 years the developments of Ko Olina and Kapolei have put a significant strain on the infrastructure and resources of West Oahu. In addition to traffic, this includes health-care services, landfill capacity, water and affordable housing. Can a third major development be supported on Oahu?
The environmental impact statement completed in 1985 failed to address the effect of the project on customary and traditional practices of Hawaiians. The EIS did identify known prehistoric settlements in the development area, and the development plan calls for the disinterment of any burial remains found during the project construction. By today's standards, this does not adequately or fully take into account the environmental impact of the development on Hawaiian culture.
The Department of Health's administrative rules require that if the timing of a project has been significantly changed, the EIS must be supplemented. Due to the size and scope of the developer's plans, the city should follow through on this as well as require the developer, Kuilima Resort Company, to do more.
The city also should review the Land Use Commission's action to reclassify this area from the agricultural to the urban district in order to facilitate the project, and the Unilateral Agreement filed with the Bureau of Conveyances that required certain conditions.
While unusual, there is legal precedence for the city to take this route. The Hawaii Supreme Court affirmed an issuing agency's right to review, revoke or modify special management area use permits in Morgan v. Planning Department County of Kauai, 104 Ha. 174, 86 P.3d 982 (2004).
Change, especially on something as permanent as land development, is always hard on a community. As I talk to the people on the North Shore, both for and against the Turtle Bay expansion, there is mistrust and divisiveness growing to a harmful degree. People expect you to take a side in what has become a bitter battle, and that will only result in one side winning and one side losing.
We have a better chance of getting to both sides winning if we can focus on areas where there might be common ground -- good jobs with decent pay for residents in the community, affordable housing for some employees, cultural sensitivity, beach access and support for local fishing, surfing and family gatherings, and preserving the sense of Hawaiian country.
I don't believe anyone expects the North Shore to stay in a time warp, so if we are to move forward with some sort of development, let it be one in which the people's best interest drives the nature, size and scope of the project. That includes holding government accountable for thoroughly examining the environmental, economic, social and cultural impacts that this community will be forced to live with for generations to come.
Michael Magaoay, a Democrat, represents District 46 (North Shore).