Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Dubai and Honolulu—sister cities?

by Larry Geller

We can’t seem to deal with our sewage (though we’re planning to spend a fortune on a train). Like Dubai, we build more homes and office buildings but don’t treat our waste before dumping it in the ocean:

Dubai, that instant city of over-wrought architecture and slave-like laborers, is apparently on the verge of a sewage catastrophe. The BBC reports that "raw sewage is flowing into the sea close to prime tourist beaches."

"There simply is not the capacity to deal with all the human waste the city dwellers produce," we read, and so illegal dumping of untreated human sewage is taking place in the open waters of the region. [Dwell Daily, Big Trouble in LIttle Dubai, 10/17/2008 ]

Also like Dubai, Honolulu seems to be incapable of urban planning. Most people find out what will happen in their community when they read that a developer is planning to put up another 6,300 houses in their backyards. Again, Dubai:

As urban design becomes something undertaken only by private developers and multinational corporations–something parodied to hilarious effect in Max Barry's novel Jennifer Government–how might we restore accountability to the way these cities are run?

Indeed. Development in Honolulu seems out of our control as citizens and taxpayers.

The train, if voters don’t stop it in the November elections, is to be put in place on a route determined by whim rather than planning. It will go through Salt Lake not because that’s the best thing to do or because that route was determined by consensus, but rather it was a trade for the vote of a single city councilman. It nearly went through Mapunapuna simply because a developer wanted a station there.

Meanwhile, the City remains at odds with the EPA on sewage treatment. The bill could exceed $800 million.

(hat tip to the Progressive Review for the Dubai article)


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