At what point do we say enough is enough?

In Windward Oahu, our communities are rising to reject unjust development at the county level, at Sherwoods in Waimanalo, and now in Puohala Village in Kaneohe.

The message is the same: Our communities do not feel their interests are being represented in government, to the extent we must fend for ourselves to protect our homes, while balancing competing needs to survive in Hawaii.

For half a century, nearly 4 acres of preservation land in Puohala remained untouched until now. A local land company is proposing to convert these lands, lands purchased at very low costs, into a gated residential community, a change many say would significantly alter the aging neighborhood.

From the start, the community rejected the proposed development due to concerns over flooding, further damage to the ecosystem and increased traffic. Residents contend the lands are not safe because it is too wet. To respond, the Kaneohe Neighborhood Board passed a resolution to oppose it. But yet, the concerns of the board and these families were ignored.

Almost 4 acres of preservation land in Kaneohe are at risk of development, according to the author. This is the view of the area from the end of Puohala Street.

Kau'i Pratt-Aquino

To add insult to injury, this month, the Planning Commission voted unanimously to recommend the approval of the rezone against the recommendations of the Department of Planning and Permitting to scale down the project, and despite over 300 signatures from residents in opposition. The application is now under consideration by the Zoning Committee of the City Council.

The message from the community is clear: The City Council should not reward developers who purchase preservation land at cheap prices to turn a profit, and bully the community to force a rezone. It sets a dangerous precedent for Hawaii while our families struggle to make ends meet, to stay in Hawaii and purchase their own homes at market value.

Preservation lands were zoned that way for a reason, to preserve those lands for the environment and residents of the county, not to be used as an opportunity to make a profit.

To stop the attack on our communities and to save what we have, the City Council should reject the rezone for the people they swore to protect.

Community Voices aims to encourage broad discussion on many topics of community interest. It’s kind of a cross between Letters to the Editor and op-eds. This is your space to talk about important issues or interesting people who are making a difference in our world. Column lengths should be no more than 800 words and we need a photo of the author and a bio. We welcome video commentary and other multimedia formats. Send to news@civilbeat.org. The opinions and information expressed in Community Voices are solely those of the authors and not Civil Beat.

About the Author