Monday, March 04, 2013


Hawaii Reporter analysis of Koa Ridge appeal

by Larry Geller

Hawaii’s public policy with regard to land development isn’t “public” policy at all. In the end, developers get pretty much what they want.

Castle & Cooke’s proposed Koa Ridge development will pave over part of Oahu’s best agricultural land. Why would a court not consider this in reviewing an appeal of the Land Use Commission approval of the project?

A report by Paul J. Schwind included in an article by Robert Thomas posted today by the Hawaii Reporter begins with this explanation:

In keeping with a long tradition in Hawaii that land use cases are litigated in court on procedural rather than substantive grounds, the agency appeal in Sierra Club, Hawaii Chapter et al. v. Castle & Cooke Homes Hawaii et al., No. 1CC-12-1-001999 (Haw. 1st Cir. 2012) was decided based on whether the appeal met the statutory tests for appeal under the Administrative Procedures Act, rather than on public policy grounds.

[Hawaii Reporter, Status Of Appeal Of Land Use Commission’s Koa Ridge Approval, 3/4/2013]

Of course, the issue before the court was complicated and it is necessary to read the complete article to understand it. Still, there’s a lesson here.

If we want to preserve ag lands, lower our cost of food production, minimize our use of fossil fuels to bring food into Hawaii, and increase direct farm-to-consumer sales (see previous editorial by Johan Galtung), we will need to make political changes in our state government.

It can be done. An example: check out 1000 Friends of Oregon - 37 Years of Accomplishments. That group, though originally working mainly to preserve farmland, can also be largely credited with the transformation of Portland into the livable city it now is: pedestrian-friendly, and with open spaces and wonderful transportation systems.


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