Steering Growth - Extended Version
6 Leaders Discuss Development in Hawaii
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(page 1 of 7)
From left: Allen Doane, Joann Yukimura,
Hawaii Business invited six influential business people and political leaders to talk about development and preservation. The moderator was Jerry Burris, editor-at-large of Hawaii Business. The panelists were:
D.G. “Andy” Anderson, developer, former state senator
W. Allen Doane, former chairman and CEO, Alexander & Baldwin, Inc.
Micah Kane, Kamehameha Schools trustee, former director of the state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands
Harry Kim, former Hawaii County mayor
Jan Yokota, vice president, Pacific Region, HRPT Properties Trust
JoAnn Yukimura, former Kauai County mayor
Burris: I would like to welcome everybody to the Former Mayors of Hawaii Club (laughter). The subject is about development. It’s about growth. It’s about how does Hawaii protect what is special about this place. Especially about, you know, how do you combine these few things and what are the natural consequences? You folks are here today …
Anderson: Because nobody else would accept (laughter).
Burris: Because you’ve been through the wars in various ways. The Waiawa project seems to have hit the skids and that brings up a lot of thoughts if you go back in time. And I guess I would like to start by just asking is there a limit to development? Should there be a limit to development on an island state like this? Let’s start with you, Jan.
Yokota: Thank you. The population has remained relatively stable. I think we’re up to about 1.2 million right now. Should there be a limit? I guess the answer is yes, but the question is how? Where is the growth? I do believe the urban core is where a lot of the growth should be directed when there is growth of population, so we can preserve some of the agricultural lands. I’m speaking about Oahu. It would be very different on the Neighbor Islands. It’s important to try to concentrate growth in the urban core to the extent you can for transportation reasons, sustainability reasons, sufficiency of infrastructure – all of those things.
Burris: How about on the Big Island, Mayor?
Kim: First of all, one of the realities for us was limited growth. It was a numbers game that is very difficult for us with the United States in the background. But for a long time, I’ll be very personal, I’ve been very sad and dissatisfied of how we’ve grown and where are we going. And Micah and I have talked about some of our personal sadness in regards to the direction of Hawaii and what has happened to Hawaii’s people. I definitely believe that all the leaders, some of them here, need to be aware of what we have to do to change things. At the end of the road, I think we’ll all be very sad of what is there if we do not change.
Anderson: I see the islands, every island, trying to be a state entity. They want economic development. They want housing, they want open space, they want ag. I think you got to look at the state as all islands. Take Kauai and bring it back and attach it to Hawaii. Bring the big island of Maui and attach it to Waimanalo and Kaiser area and make a state out of it. We have to have ag land in the state, it just doesn’t have to be on this island. I don’t think you can preserve ag land on Oahu. We’re going to preserve a few acres here and there, but this is the economic hub. This is where it should be the financial engine. This is where the growth should be. Had the Superferry not gone down, you would’ve seen the ag lands on the Neighbor Islands begin to develop, but this Gentry thing (the cancelled Waiawa project) – I was reading the funny comments down below (the online news story) this morning and somebody is talking about “open space.” Well, it’s always nice to say open space if it’s your land and you’re paying the property tax. I mean it’s easy to tell another man how or a woman how to use their land. But I think the state as a whole has lots of ag land. I think the state as a whole has lots of open space. Honolulu is going to grow, I don’t care what you say. Gentry went down with Waiawa. Kamehameha Schools, I didn’t realize, owned most of that land. It has a fiduciary responsibility. And if we’re going to provide homes and jobs for our kids, then it’s going to happen. Or we’re going to stifle. And if we stifle, then what’s left of housing is going to go very high because of demand. So I think Oahu can grow. I’d like to see nice growth and thought-out growth and not just random mountain-to-the-sea, but there is room for Oahu to grow. And there is ag land and open space on the Neighbor Islands. So I think it’s time to look at the islands as a state and not just island by island.
Burris: I remember your former boss, (former Honolulu Mayor Frank) Fasi, once said that it’s absurd to think of Oahu maintaining agriculture.
Anderson: I would agree with that. When we talk about ag land, drive up Kunia, which is some of our most prime land. It’s all fallow. Take a look at Dave Murdock’s land, all from Mililani going down. It’s all fallow. I mean there aren’t enough farmers and there aren’t enough housewives to buy all the produce that it could grow. Anything that we grow is still more expensive than the imported tomato. And so the housewives today buy the $1.29 tomato vs. the $3.39 tomato, where it comes from a 3,000-acre farm on the Mainland. So it sounds good for the politician. Open space, ag. I don’t think it’s real.
Burris: Allen, what do you think?
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