Thursday, November 02, 2006

There goes the neighborhood

I've been monitoring our Neighborhood Board, waiting for an opening so that I can jump in and start the take-over. Jeff Merz is doing a good job in Waikīkī, and has been working on getting more progressive folks in.

My neighborhood has a long way too go. I just found the construction plans online for Safeway Center, which is going to occupy the last major vacant lot on Kapahulu. And the plans suck ass. Kapahulu is partially pedestrian friendly - there are blocks of low-rise local businesses and restaurants that front the sidewalk [excellent!] and blocks of gas stations and fast-food joints [mediocre]. Luckily we haven't had any mega-stores hiding behind parking lots.

Until now ... until this little piece of suburban blight that they just broke ground on ...

It violates every modern planning precept - and yet this is what the people wanted. This is the plan the Neighborhood Board approved. All their concerns were on parking and traffic flow - there's not a word in the meeting notes on whether the project would be pedestrain friendly, or on the impact it would have on the aesthetics and culture of our neighborhood.

Nah. It was all:
will there be parking? [oh yes! plenty!] and will it slow down traffic? [not if we add another lane it won't!].

There is not a single sign that any of the planners involved are familiar with New Urbanism, or of
any development in urban planning since the end of World War II. It's insane. We know how to create liveable cities. We know the price of sprawl and car-dependent development. And yet the idiots in City government are sticking to the same tired policies that have done so much damage already to these islands.

Our mayor even suggested that we might have to scale back our light rail plans ... that it might reach Waikiki or the University. Which will make it absolutely useless for all except suburban commuters.

I'm also a bit irked at myself - I skipped the neighborhood planning meetings. I went to some for the bike route planning & they were all a waste of time. One was dominated by angry sovereignty activists arguing that the bike path was a threat to traditional Hawaiian culture. Other were less dramatic. In the end we were promised lots of bike paths, but the plans were put on the shelf and apparently ignored. Or maybe they were used as toilet paper. All I know is, we never got our new paths, and the new construction in Kaka`ako and
Waikīkī actually removed bike routes.

This is how bad it is: I'm voting Republican in this election. If the Church still sold indulgences I would buy a thousand, and even then I'm not sure this will be forgiveable. I'm still hoping that the Democrats take control nationally, but locally I want these entrenched buggers kicked to the curb
en masse.

Not that the Republicans here are much better. They're more progressive than those on the mainland, but I still don't like them - they seem to be selling Hawai`i off to the highest bidder, and then congratulating themselves on their
economic miracle.

The good news this week? It's raining a lot, so my garden is happy. Jah Dread is at least watching over the plants.

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