The Honolulu Council Reapportionment Commission on Tuesday narrowed down its list of four potential district plans to the one it will take out to the community next month.
The so-called “Modified Existing Plan” is, as its name suggests, the closest to the current Honolulu City Council map. Many of the features are familiar: Lines along the Koolau and Waianae mountain ranges; boundaries at Kaena and Makapuu Points; and an expansive District 2 that includes Mililani Mauka, but not Mililani town, and wraps around to include all of the North Shore and much of Koolau Loa.
The one key difference between the proposal and the [existing map}(http://www1.honolulu.gov/council/ccl.htm) is that two portions of Makakilo that have been split between Districts 1 and 9 for the last decade will be reunited. To compensate for the rapid growth in Leeward Oahu, the boundary would now slice Ewa in half along Fort Weaver Road.
(You can view an image of the proposal at the top of this article and click here for a PDF file with zoom capabilities.)
Commissioners were nearly unanimous in their support for moving the proposal forward. Kerry Komatsubara described it as “the most balanced” and Nathan Okubo said its low deviation means it has the greatest flexibility for future adjustments.
“We’re a long way from final adoption,” Commissioner Rey Graulty told his colleagues. “Right now we’re at the very early stage of saying, ‘This is what we’re proposing.'”
The commission will hold three public hearings — one downtown, one Windward and one Leeward — starting the first week of October. Dates, times and locations have not yet been nailed down.
Only after those meetings will the commission reconvene and look at adjusting its proposal. It’s expected that the Fort Weaver Road boundary will draw some opposition from those who see Ewa as a contiguous community that shouldn’t be split in half.
That line might not be popular, but some changes were going to be necessary to deal with population changes since the City Council districts were last drawn a decade ago. The three other proposals put forward by the Commission’s staff were used to illustrate other possibilities for dealing with the shifting population.
Commissioners voted to eliminate the “Kaena Point Plan” from contention for a number of reasons. Designed to show what would happen if District 2 were drawn to include both Mililani town and Mililani Mauka, the plan included one district wrapping around Makapuu Point, from Diamond Head to Kailua. It would have forced Council members Stanley Chang and Ikaika Anderson to face off against each other.
Commissioners Graulty, John Monis and others said they couldn’t defend such a proposal to the community.
Rodney Funakoshi said that was actually his favorite plan because it keeps Central Oahu together, just as the city does for planning purposes. And he said that Kailua, Waimanalo, Hawaii Kai and Aina Haina used to be part of one Council district in the past.
He was alone in voting against a motion to eliminate the plan from contention.
Funakoshi also failed in his efforts to move a third plan — the “Dual Point Plan” — forward to public hearing. He said he liked the mauka-to-makai construction of the districts and the fact that it kept the Ewa community intact. He also said he wanted to give the public a second option to look at.
But Graulty said that plan would eliminate the Middle Street boundary separating the lower parts of Kalihi, Pearl City and Manoa from the mauka areas, a change from past practice that might confuse and frustrate voters. He also complained the plan would separate Makakilo from Kapolei even though the two towns now share a postal code and a common identity. Graulty said he lives in that region.
He was joined by four others in voting against Funakoshi’s motion to advance the plan.