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Plan will envision Oahu

Thirty-four years ago, when the Oahu General Plan first was adopted, the second city of Kapolei did not exist, pineapple and sugar were plentiful and sustainability, as an overarching policy, was never mentioned. Today, issues involving population growth around the second urban center in West Oahu, redefining the mission of island agriculture and better managing natural resources are among the key issues that city planners face as they envision what Oahu will look like in 2035. COMMUNITY MEETING THURSDAY » The city Department of Planning and Permitting will hold a community meeting to initiate the review and update of the Oahu General Plan at 6 p.m. Thursday at Mission Memorial Auditorium. Registration begins at 5:15 p.m. » Landowners, business owners, community organizations and residents are invited. The city will present the project’s purpose and scope, discuss preliminary findings and begin gathering community comments. » More information at honoluludpp.org. The process starts Thursday with a public meeting to begin soliciting community input for the update of the Oahu General Plan. This update will focus on population and housing growth, the economy, affordable housing and sustainability, said Jiro Sumada, deputy director of planning and permitting for the city. To the extent that these issues affect residents, businesses and even visitors, it is important that all sectors of our community participate in this update. The General Plan, first adopted in 1977 and last updated in 2002, is the overall long-range plan for government, the private sector and communities to manage population and urban growth on Oahu. As a set of broad policy statements, it is not that the plan has changed, but our community that has changed, and the plan should reflect current community values, priorities and concerns, Sumada said. The Department of Planning and Permitting has identified several hot topics based on recent trends in population growth. ALTHOUGH the island's population has roughly doubled to about 953,000 in 2010, according to the most recent U.S. census, the growth per year has steadily declined, from about 13,000 annually in the 1960s and '70s to about 6,000 per year the last two decades. In the last three decades, the majority of the island's growth outside the main urban center has been in Central Oahu and Ewa, according to a DPP analysis of key planning issues. The original plan identified Ewa to become the island's second major center for economic activity, but that growth has occurred slowly. According to DPP, the region has achieved only about 30 percent of the new permanent jobs projected by 2035. But even with a projected increase in the number of people who live and work in Ewa, planners expect the majority of residents will live outside the region. Sumada notes that a 1992 revision of the plan called for a mass-transit system for residents of Ewa and Central Oahu — a goal being fulfilled by the city's planned $5.4 billion rail project. Considering future mobility trends, the current policy to add jobs and economic growth in Ewa will continue to be an important strategy to reduce the demand on regional highway networks, the DPP planning analysis states. THE GENERAL Plan also studies trends in the economy such as increased tourism and military growth in the islands since the '70s as well as the changing landscape of agriculture. Current language in the plan, according to the DPP analysis, is left over from days when sugar cane and pineapple were plentiful: Provide sufficient agricultural land in Ewa, Central Oahu and the North Shore to encourage the continuation of sugar and pineapple as viable industries. But acreage in agricultural production has declined by almost 37,000 acres since 1980, and livestock production has gone down 70 percent in the past 30 years, according to the report. Planners are seeking input on whether the General Plan should be amended to recognize that the era of plantation agriculture has ended and whether the focus should shift to providing more products to be consumed locally. The update of the General Plan also seeks input on whether sustainability should be formally adopted in the language of the plan. The DPP analysis broadly defines sustainability as a recognition that a balance is needed between using the resources necessary to move society forward and leaving sufficient resources for future generations. Several recent city programs, projects and plans have been imbued with some discussion of sustainability, the DPP analysis says. However, the General Plan (the county's overarching land use planning document) is currently silent on that subject, although taken as a whole, its objectives and policies reflect many sustainability principles.


Posted on: Wednesday the 6th of July 2011.
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