Controversy brews over future of Oahu’s North Shore

The bill could change the face of the North Shore and opponents say that would not be good.

Officially, the bill is called the Ko’olau Loa Sustainable Communities Plan.

According to the Honolulu City & County Department of Planning and Permitting (DPP): “The Plan seeks to preserve Koolau Loa’s country character and distinctive sense of “old Hawaii”. Some of its measures for accomplishing this include geographic boundaries and policies which define how community needs should be balanced with the protection and enhancement of Koolau Loa’s spectacular natural, scenic, and cultural qualities.”

But it is still a work in progress.

Dozens gathered in the drizzling rain at Malaekahana State Park to stage a peaceful protest against what is commonly called Bill 47 (2013) in the Honolulu City Council. It would involve changes in zoning and planning for the North Shore community.

“Very controversial. I think the community is very divided on those issues. And I think on the council where we stand, we’re still taking in public testimony.” Honolulu Council Chair Ernie Martin said.

The bumper sticker holds some truth for these North Shore residents – keep the country country. These residents oppose Turtle Bay expansion and other North Shore projects.

“The problem we have is that we have as youth, we’re not really caught up with what’s going on. We’re not really involved. We think that’s our parents problem…but really it’s going to affect us.” Bill 47 opponent Jacob Aki said.

Because of that, the city council is moving slowly on Bill 47.

“We want to make sure we hear all of the relevant testimony before making amendments to that particular plan.” Martin said.

Martin says the Oahu general plan will be considered first – but if that process takes too long, the North Shore issues will be addressed.

For a brief time today, Kamehameha Highway was shut down as protestors made a short trek to make their point.

They were joined by Hawaiian activist Walter Ritte.

“Progress is fine but not on the backs of our future generations. Not on the backs of our environment and natural resources. Those things got to be protected. I’m here because we been fighting on Molokai for 35 years trying to protect that.” Hawaiian activist Walter Ritte said.

“We are the future. We are the ones that’s going to live with the outcomes of Bill 47 and other land issues as well.” Aki said.

For its part, the city council is trying to find a middle ground in the discussion of North Shore development.

“And what you would see is amendments being proposed to see if we can reconcile some of the issues that are being brought forth by the community on both sides.” Martin said.

More information:

*Note that the bill status includes amendments, text, votes, and submitted testimony for and against the bill.

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