Special fund could help save Galbraith lands for agriculture
It is imperative that we protect valuable agricultural land. The need to preserve agricultural lands becomes even more apparent as demand for residential and other nonagricultural uses puts more agricultural land under the threat of development. With the establishment of the Clean Water and Natural Lands Fund by the voters in 2007, the Honolulu City Council has the opportunity to explore new ways to protect agricultural lands.
Money from the fund can be used to purchase or acquire real estate for land conservation to protect watersheds, forests, beaches, coastal areas and agricultural land. The fund can also be used to purchase historic or culturally important land for preservation.
One area that fits the profile of lands that can be preserved by the Clean Water and Natural Lands Fund is the former Galbraith Estate lands. This tract of Wahiawa land totaling about 2,100 acres is former pineapple plantation land. These lands include Lake Wilson, an important agricultural irrigation asset that provides fresh water to farms from Wahiawa all the way to Waialua; and the spiritual epicenter site Kukaniloko, revered as the birth place of Hawaiian alii.
Aside from its historical and cultural value, the former Galbraith Estate lands are designated AG-1, the highest agricultural land designation by the state.
A developer is currently under option to purchase these lands and is considering subdividing the 2,100 acres into 5-acre lots. The concern is that these lands will be marketed and sold as "gentleman agriculture lots," where multimillion-dollar homes replace active farming. I don't believe the Wahiawa and Whitmore communities want to see speculative development on prime farm land that holds such historical and cultural significance as do these lands.
In an effort to support the preservation and protection of the former Galbraith Estate lands, I have introduced Resolution 08-142 to urge the city administration to use monies from the Clean Water and Natural Lands Fund to acquire and protect these lands. I urge all those who support this important piece of legislation to contact members of the City Council, either by phone or e-mail, and express your support of Resolution 08-142. Contact information can be found at honolulu.gov/council/ccl.htm.
I hope that monies from the Clean Water and Natural Lands Fund can supplement and support efforts currently being undertaken by the state and other organizations to save these lands. It is essential that the lands formerly belonging to the Galbraith Estate be preserved in agriculture. The Clean Water and Natural Lands Fund is one resource that we can use to help ensure that it is.
Donovan Dela Cruz represents District 2 (Wahiawa-Haleiwa-Heeia) on the Honolulu City Council.