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How long, O Lord, how long?

November 30, 2011 - Harry Eagar
I generally avoid posting on local news, not because I don't have anything to say about it, but because I do. However, we reporters are supposed not to reveal our opinions about subjects we cover, lest we seem biased.

Seems silly, but that's the way the game is played.

However, I think I can say how amused I was by Ilima Loomis' excellent story Sunday about yet another delay in finishing the Maui Island Plan.

Nut graf:

“The move to revise the due date comes eight months after council members extended their deadline to approve the plan until the end of this year; 13 months after their previous deadline passed; four years after the plan was originally scheduled to be completed; and a decade after officials first started working to update the county's General Plan.”

While she was working on the story, I mentioned that I had been there before.

In the bad old days, the General Plan was reviewed every 10 years, with the community plans being revised in tandem. That was the plan, anyway.

I used to attend Community Advisory Committee meetings, primarily for West Maui and Wailuku-Kahului, but also some for South Maui and Makawao-Pukalani-Kula.

I believe the first of the CAC series wrapped up about nine years into the process – that is, if adopted right away, it would have had one year's life left in it.

The new Maui Island Plan method was supposed to have corrected the delays that vitiated the work on the nine community plans. It seems not to have worked out that way.

Do I have a solution, other than to do what Houston used to do, and not have zoning at all? No, except to propose that one of the reasons it takes too long to write a plan is that the plans are too detailed.

A general plan, it seems to me, should be general. Our general plan is way too particular.

Under the old plan, I also had a beef with the way the community plan boundaries were handled. One of the hot issues back then was lengthening the airport runway. This was written into the Wailuku-Kahului Community Plan.

I thought then, and still think, that it is not the Wailuku-Kahului Airport (even if its name is Kahului Airport), but the Maui airport. Ditto for the harbor, most utilities, public and private, the college and some other developments that are located in a particular place but are intended to serve every place.

In “Design with Nature,” Ian McHarg and his students overlaid all the things going on in a community, building up a layered map that got darker and darker where the already-built development was thickest. The idea was that the lightest area of the map would reveal the best place to put a new road – where it would have to displace the least amount of what had already been made. (This is an issue on Oahu with rail transit, though Honolulu does not seem to be designing with nature but against it.)

Maybe one approach could be to define those core developments that the whole island needs, then see how to fit the optional developments around them.

Or, as I used to like to put it, if you think there is a big fight over where to put the Upcountry high school, wait till they try to find a location for the Upcountry sewage treatment plant.


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