Commission defers action on petition to dissolve Koolauloa Neighborhood Board

Jamie Winpenny

DOWNTOWN—At the Monday, January 24 meeting of the Neighborhood Commission, which oversees Oahu’s Neighborhood Boards, Commission members deferred action on a petition to dissolve the Koolauloa Neighborhood Board. The petition was created by members of the community and not by the board itself.

Community Relations Specialist and Neighborhood Commission Executive Assistant Bryan Mick said that 100 signatures of registered voters residing within the jurisdictional boundaries of the board are required to prompt action from the Commission. Mick said that while 128 people signed the petition, only 98 signatures had been verified thus far, and that he is continuing to try and verify the requisite 100 signatures.

When asked by the Commission what prompted residents to create the petition to dissolve the Koolauloa Neighborhood Board, Mick stated simply that the petitioners believe that the current board is not adequately serving the needs of the community.

Commission Chair Brendan Bailey clarified the fact that if 100 signatures on the petition are verified, it would not result in immediate action, but that it would begin the process.

Dissolving a neighborhood board would involve a series of community meetings at which residents can provide testimony. As the number of signatures needed has not been met, the Commission voted unanimously to defer action.

The Koolauloa Neighborhood Board recently hit a major setback enforced by the Commission. In December, the Neighborhood Board Commission ruled against a July 2009 decision by the Koolauloa Neighborhood Board to support Envision Laie, a large-scale development project supported by Brigham Young University, the Polynesian Cultural Center, and Hawaii Reserves Inc. The proposed project involves building 1,260 new residential dwellings as well as large shopping centers and other developments on agricultural zoned land in the currently natural and undisturbed Gunstock Ranch area. The decision to support Envision Laie was ruled null and void.

Testifiers slam term extensions

Also discussed at Monday’s meeting were proposed amendments to the City’s Neighborhood Plan. Those who testified were all against an amendment to allow the Commission to extend a neighborhood board member’s term by two years. They were critical of the process by which neighborhood boards were notified of the proposed amendments. A woman from Kapolei cited chaotic meetings and the incompetence of some members, saying a mechanism to get rid of incompetent board members needs to be in place.

Others argued that if term extension was due to budget concerns, the budget for new elections has already been approved and appropriated.

Bailey noted that the amendment did not automatically extend a member’s term, it only gives the Commission the authority to extend terms. In the end, the commissioners agreed to change the wording of the term extension amendment and hold another vote at the next meeting. All other proposed amendments to the City’s Neighborhood Plan were approved.

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Koolau Loa Neighborhood Board support for Envision Laie ruled null and void