Saturday, November 3, 2001

Hawaii State Seal

Redistricting splits
Ewa communities

2 plans to divide the region are
opposed by many wishing
to save representation

By Gordon Y.K. Pang

The city Reapportionment Commission is close to finishing its task of remapping the city's nine Council districts but has yet to decide whether it wants to split a community into two districts.

The nine-member commission will hold a public hearing in the third-floor City Council chambers of Honolulu Hale at 7 p.m. Thursday after recent hearings in Waipahu and Kaneohe.

The Waipahu meeting proved to be the most explosive of the two public hearings as members of the Kapolei-Makakilo and Ewa districts squared off on the viability of two plans now before the commission.

Both plans are slight variations on what's called the Kaena-Makapuu plan or dual-point plan because they split the island at Kaena Point and Makapuu Point.

Kaena-Makapuu A separates Makakilo from the Waianae-Kapolei region and puts Makakilo in a district that includes Mililani and Waipahu.

In response to outcry from Makakilo-Kapolei residents, Kaena-Makapuu B was drafted. It returns Makakilo to the Leeward district but splits the Ewa community into two segments, with part going with the Waianae district and the other portion with Waipahu.

But the B configuration, which places a district line down the middle of most of Fort Weaver Road and then through Hanakahi Street in Ewa Beach, is opposed by some in the Ewa community.

The issue arises because the law requires the largest district to not have more than 10 percent higher population than the smallest district.

State Rep. Willie Espero (D, Ewa-Waipahu) is among those opposed to Plan B.

"Ewa Villages (and) Ewa Beach have a history," Espero said. "Historically it's connected."

Additionally, he said, the growth occurring in Ewa's new subdivisions all share the same issues.

While Kapolei and Makakilo can be viewed as one community, he said, they also have distinct differences because Makakilo has existed for nearly 40 years while Kapolei was created a decade ago, Espero said.

But Maeda Timson, a member of the Makakilo/Kapolei/ Honokai Hale Neighborhood Board, said the Makakilo-Kapolei community would be hurt, if split.

Timson said Makakilo residents purposely worked for more than three decades to develop Kapolei as part of an incorporated community. "I think the harm is that we're going to have to deal with Council people from two different areas," she said.

The commission shouldn't take either the A or B plans, she said, but go back to the drawing board and try to resolve the concerns of both communities.

Commission Chairman Kerry Komatsubara said the panel is close to wrapping up its work and is hoping to have a final plan approved at its Nov. 14 meeting. It has until the end of the year to come up with a final map.

Komatsubara noted, however, that changes are still being made to reflect issues raised by the public. For instance, a minor adjustment is being made to the two Windward districts to keep a community intact.

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