Friday, June 12, 2015


Kokua Council’s 2-part program: "Shaping Honolulu" starts next week

by Larry Geller

So… is it enough to replace our Honolulu city government leaders in the next election if they persist in doing next to nothing about facilitating the creation of 11,000 new affordable housing units that the city desperately needs? (See: Honolulu Must Quicken the Pace on Affordable Housing, Civil Beat, 6/12/2015 and Civil Beat blasts Honolulu city government’s inattention to solving the affordable housing crisis, 6/12/2015).

Civil Beat suggests that there could be competition for city offices next election.

That, by itself, will not solve the problem. I suggest that we need to have something else as well: citizen involvement in the planning process.

But how is that done? It seems like a tall order. We probably don’t yet know how to do what many other cities have done—involve their own residents in planning their living environment. Would we build housing for the ultra-rich while ignoring the needs of most of our neighbors? I don’t think so. Not if we had a say in the planning.

Involvement means to me that we first need to learn how we can take part effectively in planning our living environment. Since we have not so far had the chance to do that, we’re still unprepared. But we can easily learn, I think. It’s probably not rocket science. Really. Others have done it. We can too.

Here is one approach. It’s in two parts:

Kokua Council has invited a panel of people who do know about how Honolulu has been planned, and I’m hopeful that they might also give us insight into how we can incorporate ordinary citizens into the process. The panel is composed not of politicians but of experts from the University of Hawaii Department of Urban and Regional Planning.

That panel will first convene on Beth-Ann Kozlovich’s Town Square program on Thursday, June 18, 5-6 p.m. on the HPR-2 stations (89.3 FM on Oahu). Town Square has a very large drive time audience. And if listeners are stuck in traffic while tuning in, they might understand why it is important that we learn to fix that.

The panel will meet again on Monday, June 22 at Kokua Council’s regular lunchtime meeting—see the announcement below.

My hope is that this is the beginning of something.

Please tune in on Thursday and come over to the meeting on Monday. There’s an (optional) cheap lunch available for a donation, but no obligation. Please come, learn, and ask questions. There’s plenty of parking. No RSVP, just come if you can.

Monday, June 22, 2015

11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Miyama Main Hall, Harris United Methodist Church
Nuuanu Ave. and South Vineyard Blvd.

Ample parking - driveway off Nuuanu Ave.

Part I: Hawaii Public Radio Town Square, June 18, 5-6 p.m. KIPO 89.3 FM on Oahu

Part II: At Harris Church, June 22:


11:30 Luncheon (optional): Various Pizzas, Salad, and Dessert—$5.00 Donation

11:55 Welcome, Introductions and Remarks, Larry Geller, President

12:00 Program: "Shaping Honolulu" with Jennifer Darrah, Lecturer and Graduate Faculty Affiliate, University of Hawaii, Annie Koh, PhD Candidate, Department of Urban and Regional Planning, UH, and Prof. Luciano Minerbi, Department of Urban and Regional Planning, UH. The discussion will be moderated by Beth-Ann Kozlovich, Executive Producer Talk Shows, Hawaii Public Radio.

All of us want to live in a high quality, affordable, people-friendly environment with open space, quality housing, and even preserve farmland for sustainable agriculture. Urban design can be a grass-roots activity, with communities participating with professionals in the design of their local environment.

How do we explain the growing affordable housing shortage while luxury condominiums sprout for the wealthy?

We'll ask the panelists to bring us up to date both on how Honolulu has been planned in the past and to what extent citizens have participated. But more important, since we are advocates: How can citizens participate in urban planning so they don't feel they are simply the victims of it? How do we guarantee walkable streets, open spaces, and an environment welcoming to children, adults and senior citizens? And finally, how might we become involved in current and future planning of our own living environment? Let's learn from our panel how this might be accomplished in Honolulu.

1:00 Adjourn


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