City planning director to leave for private firm

David Tanoue is leaving his position tomorrow as director of the city's Department of Planning and Permitting. He starts on October 1 as Vice President at RM Towill Corporation.

Ikaika M Hussey

Mayor Peter Carlisle will have a seat to fill in his cabinet on Monday, with the departure on Sunday of Department of Planning & Permitting Director David Tanoue.

Tanoue confirmed by email today that he is resigning, effective tomorrow.

My last day with the City is 9/30.  I start on 10/01 at RM Towill Corporation as Vice President and will be managing its planning department and it’s surveying department.

He’s following in the footsteps of Carlisle and Hannemann alumnus Collins Lam, who left the cabinet in 2011 to lead RM Towill’s surveying and mapping departments.

Established in 1930, RM Towill Corporation is a major engineering consulting firm, with business interests throughout Hawaii and the Pacific.


As director of the Department of Planning & Permitting, Tanoue came under criticism from North Shore residents for meeting with developers of the Envision Laie project. As reported by Andrew Pereira for KHON on November 8, 2010, during Tanoue’s confirmation process:

“He admittedly met with developers from the LDS church as well as Hawaii Reserves Incorporated, their development arm, and allegedly met with numerous developer representatives from Turtle Bay behind closed doors,” said Tim Vandeveer, co-chair of the Defend Oahu Coalition.

Others like Punaluu resident Cathleen Mattoon accused Tanoue of ignoring the recommendations of the Koolauloa Planning Advisory Committee.

“Never in all my years of citizen participation in government have I experienced such shoddy treatment,” Mattoon testified.  “By his own admission Mr. Tanoue met privately with developers and made the decision to ignore the PAC.”

Next in command

Tanoue’s departure leaves Deputy Director Jiro Sumada as the logical acting director until Mayor Carlisle leaves office in a few months.

Lame duck Carlisle

One question raised by Tanoue’s exit is whether this signals an exodus from Peter Carlisle’s lame duck administration. Following his poor performance in the August primary election, his coattails have shrunk considerably.

Who’s the next to leave?