What’s in the Ko‘olau Loa Sustainable Communities Plan?

Tomorrow at 6pm the Honolulu City Council Zoning and Planning Committee will hear testimony on Bill 47, the Ko‘olau Loa Sustainable Communities Plan (KLSCP) at the Kahuku High School cafeteria. We take a look at some of the key elements of the plan.

The KLSCP deals with land use policies and infrastructure under the general framework of maintaining the “region’s rural character and its natural, cultural, scenic and agricultural resources,” according to the plan. “The region will remain country, characterized by small towns and villages with distinct identities that exist in harmony with the natural settings of mountain ridges and winding coastline.”

1. According to DDP projections, “Ko‘olau Loa’s resident population will increase from approximately 14,500 residents in 2000 to about 15,500 in 2035. This growth and the subsequent affordable housing needed to support it is expected to center around Mālaekahana due, in large part, to BYU Hawaii’s expected growth through the “Envision Lā‘ie” plan, but may also include Kahuku and Lā‘ie, as well as Hau‘ula.

2. A “Community Growth Boundary” will protect areas that exhibit the “physical characteristics of rural lifestyle … and protect such communities from the more intense land uses and patterns of development associated with more urban areas.” It also protects areas outside the boundary for mixed agricultural use. General Agriculture zoning will account for 28.39 percent of the area’s total acreage. This land is intended to be clustered to raise efficiency and lower infrastructure costs.

3. Certain wetland areas have been identified for inclusion in the 2011 James Campbell National Wildlife Refuge Comprehensive Conservation Plan, due to their abundance of native waterbirds. Certain other “outstanding aquatic resources” have also been identified for protection. Existing parks, mountain trails and shoreline areas, will be preserved and maintained and will be protected from overuse.

4. Design and architecture guidelines have been established that reflect the individual characters of the communities, including their commercial areas and “country-store” type establishments. “The land use mixture may include retail and office commercial, dining establishments, compatible service business and light industry activity, and some residential uses.” Buildings will generally not exceed two stories in height.

5. Open-space preservation is a key element of the vision and rural character and will remain a priority. Restricted Preservation space will account for 55.56 percent of the total acreage of the area while all forms of Residential and Business zoning will account for only 3.88 percent combined. It is important to remember, however, that much of that open-space land is mauka land that most residents and visitors will likely never see.

6. A light industrial zone/tech park that may be affiliated with BYU Hawaii will be created adjacent to the campus. Light and service-related industrial uses could include “repair, processing, construction, manufacturing, transportation, wholesaling, distribution, storage and similar economic activities … [while] high technology enterprises such as telecommunications, technological support services, computer parts manufacturing, business education, multi-language translation, research and development and film-related facilities” constitute a tech park.

7. The plan acknowledges that most residents do not support resort expansion and mandates that “no further approvals resulting in an expansion of the existing [Turtle Bay] resort beyond what is consistent with the already granted land use approvals should be granted.” The already granted land use approvals, however, seem to include a 2644 unit expansion.

8.  The Polynesian Cultural Center is to be supported in renovations and a possible expansion mauka toward Hau‘ula and into the vacant resort-zoned land adjacent to the Lā‘ie Inn. This is in recognition of the significant economic impact PCC has on the region both in terms of tourism dollars and job creation for residents and students at BYU Hawaii alike. Guidelines are in place to regulate this expansion. Additional visitor accommodations at the Lā‘ie Inn may also be developed, within guidelines, to facilitate increased eco and agricultural-tourism in the area in response to residents’ desire for job creation in the area to prevent commuting into town.

9. In response to increased desire for Health and Wellness infrastructure, additional facilities catering to specific population segments (such as the elderly or those in need of preventative care) may be established other than the Kahuku Medical Center, Ponds at Punalu‘u, the Kaiser clinic in Kahuku and others.

10. In recognition of the stress put on the region’s basic infrastructure, largely due to tourism, improvements are planned in transportation systems, water systems, wastewater treatment, electrical systems, solid waste handling, drainage systems, school facilities and civic and public engagement facilities. One major change would be the inclusion of a connector road mauka of Kamehameha Highway that would link Kahuku to Lā‘ie via the planned Mālaekahana development. This roadway would feature multi-modal infrastructure to support bicycles and pedestrians and is intended to lessen potential traffic congestion around Lā‘ie and Kahuku.