Steering Growth - Extended Version

6 Leaders Discuss Development in Hawaii

Read the shorter, edited version of this forum here

(page 1 of 7)

From left: Allen Doane, Joann Yukimura,
Micah Kane, Jerry Burris, Jan Yokota,
Harry Kim and Andy Anderson
Photo: David Croxford

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.

Burris: Andy?

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?


Hawaii Business magazine invites you to comment on our articles and the issues they raise. Comments are moderated for offensive language, commercial messages and off-topic posts and may be deleted. Some comments may be chosen for inclusion in the magazine on the Feedback page.

Old to new | New to old
Jan 16, 2010 01:31 am
 Posted by  Koolau tells insider story about Envision Laie.

Hawaii Reserves promises 'affordable housing' every time it needs community support. After 20 years, where is it? The development in Malaekahana is about market-value homes & second homes. IT IS NOT worker's and students' homes. That's the facade. Laie people cannot even afford homes in the $299,000 now. How are they going to afford more? HRI refuses to give details like prices, fee or lease,subdivision maps.

Jan 16, 2010 01:35 am
 Posted by  Koolau

Anderson thinks that Oahu must be the business hub and think of the outer islands for ag lands. We like our country side because we don't want to be city dwellers. We want to breathe fresh air and talk a walk in the country. We want to hike into the mountains and know our neighbors and be able to plant a vegetable garden in our backyard. We want to be able to have a patch of grass. If you continue to stress people out with crowded conditions and high decibel noises,Hawaii will become like LA.

Jan 16, 2010 01:49 am
 Posted by  Koolau

I've been to Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan. Singapore does not have local growers. Its food is 100% imported. This cement city has no open spaces left except its designated parks and district pools. It's a cement city that Andersen could have created in Hi. Singaporeans are voted the most 'unhappy people' in S.E. Asia. They all feel like rats running round and round in a concrete transit and high rise maze. Cost of living is out of control. They work, ork and work. When is enough is enough?

Jan 16, 2010 02:00 am
 Posted by  Koolau

Anderson's ruined Velzyland in the north shore. He cheated the public out of a public beach park by getting a developer from Colorado to outbid the city. That's the Anderson legacy floating around. Is it true? Now all you see is a long ugly stretch of tall rock wall that blocks the views of the ocean. The ritzy absentee owners don't contribute to or mingle in the community. Nobody knows them because it's gated. Anderson made money and walked away. What benefit did he leave the community?

Jan 16, 2010 02:10 am
 Posted by  Koolau

Who is to decide what is a successful life and what is not? If you choose to have a little home in the country, grow your own vegetables and raise a few chicken and live a frugal life, what's wrong with that?
Why do developers feel like they have to cement over every inch of land patch that they see? If there is a hurricane or block in shipping for months and food run out, will Anderson the townie be welcome with a few bananas, mangoes and ulu for sustenance? Living off the land is not a crime.

Nov 18, 2010 03:14 am
 Posted by  Kokea

I feel sorry for Mr. Andy Andersen. He's made lots of dole by destroying Hawaii for future generations. Unfortunately he cannot take the money with him. All he's got is his legacy.

Add your comment:


Don't Miss an Issue!
Hawaii Business,January