Charter Commission Wants to Know If the CDP Action Committee Should Be Provided a TIMELY Opportunity for Input on Developments
The Charter (Revision) Commission meets tomorrow in Hilo at the new Council Chambers on Aupuni Street, with video conferencing from Waimea and Kona. Click HERE to see the December 18th agenda and copies of the various CA's (Charter Amendments) to be considered. A number of Charter Amendments aimed at providing for a more informed public will be discussed. One of those proposed Charter amendments, Charter Amendment #25, pertains to the function of the Community Development Plans and the corresponding Action Committees. A copy of Charter Amendment #25 is attached below. Here are my comments in support of this proposed amendment, including the provision that the Planning Department submit copies of proposed land development applications to the corresponding Action Committee. What is important here is that the proposed amendment should include the word “shall”. Any watering down of that requirement will leave a giant loophole through which the Planning Department can continue to circumvent community input on development decisions. At the last Charter Commission meeting the Planning Director explained that having to involve the Action Committees in the review processis too burdensome for the Department and should not be mandated in the Charter. Below I attach video broadcast of the November 6th Charter Commission meeting which I had included in a previous blog
XX X X X X X X X X X X X X X XX X X X X XX X X X X X XX X X X X X
To: County of Hawaii Charter Commission
Fr: Margaret Wille Waimea email@example.com Date: December 18, 2009
Re: Comments IN SUPPORT OF CHARTER AMENDMENT #25 (Re: CDPAction Committee)
In the 2006 case of Leslie v. Hawaii County Board of Appeals and Planning Department, the Hawaii Supreme Court took the County of Hawaii to task for giving short-shift to public input on development applications. In that case the Supreme Count found against the Planning Department and the Board of Appeals for reading the word “shall” in the Subdivision Code as a discretionary requirement and not a mandatory requirement. The provision in question concerned whether the Planning Department must require developers provide information about any proposed development improvements. In rejecting the County’s “its an unnecessary waste of effort” argument, the Court reflected upon the following exchange from the deposition of the Planning Director:
Q: Do you find that the public can help you and your Department make better decisions by providing information to the Department?
A [by Chris Yuen]: Very often that true. In some cases though, there is, there is not a statutory means to implement what people might want.
Q: If the public had more information, could it then provide better information to the Department making its decisions.?
A [by Chris Yuen]: I think generally, yes. [109 Haw. 384, 126 P. 3d 1071, at 1081]
In that case the attorney representing the County was BJ Leithead-Todd, the current Planning Director. Following this decision in the Leslie case, the Planning Director Yuen responded by asking the County Council to immediately delete the subdivision code provision requiring that the subject information be required in the development application. At the Council hearing on that proposed Code revision, the Planning Director promised to shortly follow-up with other amendments to the code including concerning issues relating to pubic input and participation. Despite that promise, the Planning Department never proposed any follow-up rules relating to public input and participation.
This same pattern of ignoring public input is still happening. For example, pursuant to the Waimea Design Plan, the Planning Department has allowed for community input in certain circumstances. In the case of the two recent significant developments, one a rezoning and the other an amendment to a use permit, the community comments were either misplaced or ignored by the Planning Commission.
So now to turn back to the question before you, first you must ask yourselves if is important for the public to be informed about proposed developments within the District, and be able to comment on those proposed developments. Next you should ask yourselves – should that information be considered by these CDP action committees at the time the development is being considered (when comments could be acted upon) or only subsequent to the development already having been approved.
In sum, the question here is: do you agree that “in-time” availability of information is important – as did the Court in Leslie, or do you agree with the Planning Director’s assessment that routinely providing information about development proposals to community committees is not worth the effort.
Currently the Planning Department sends to various agencies copies of the relevant information about proposed subdivisions, Planted unit developments, use permits, plan approvals, and zoning application too various County agencies. This requirement would add one more entity to that mailing list. The CDP action committee or other entity could then respond within the same time constraints as given to all the committees. No timely response, no consideration of the community’s input is needed. I don’t think this effort should be overblown in scope. However if there is a problem with doing so, a system of community volunteers to help with the paperwork would be possible.
Let me add that in Honolulu, it is standard procedure for the City Planner to ask the developer whether the appropriate Neighborhood committee has received a copy of what is being proposed, and what the concerns, questions, or responses have been.
In the context of a recent similar debate, one developer raised the question, isn’t it in developers and the Planning Department’s enlightened self interest to hash out the issues, before the application is presented to the Planning Commission, so that controversial issues can be considered at the appropriate time and forum. The Action Committees should, as Nancy Pissichio once pointed out, be looked at as an important District level or regional level resource.
I urge you to vote in favor of Charter Amendment #25.
HERE IS A COPY OF PROPOSED CHARTER AMENDMENT #25. THE PROPOSED NEW LANGUAGE IS IN BOLD PRINT:
CHARTER AMENDMENT NO. 25.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE PEOPLE OF THE COUNTY OF HAWAI‘I:
Section 1. Article III, Hawai‘i County Charter, is amended by adding a new section to read as follows:
Community Development Plan; Community Development Plan Action Committees (a)The general plan shall be augmented once every ten years by a community development plan from each judicial district.
(1) Any existing community development plan shall remain in effect until such time as a new community development plan is adopted.
(2) A community development plan action committee shall be appointed within one year of completion of any community development plan to advise the planning director and the council on implementation of the community development plan. The committee shall be appointed in accordance with Section 13-4 of this Charter.
(3) All applications for development of lands within a district shall be reviewed by the district’s action committee who shall forward recommendations to the planning director in a timely manner for consideration and review.
(4) All proposed amendments to a community action plan shall be referred to the community action committee for review and recommendation.
(b) In those areas of the County that have adopted a community development plan, , the council shall enact zoning, subdivision, and other such ordinances which take into consideration such community development plans.”
HERE IS VIDEO OF THE NOVEMBER 6TH CHARTER COMMISSION HEARING:
"Video Provided By AMARAKA TV"
Here is the video of the Charter Commission's November 6th meeting..... well worth watching.[REMEMBER THE CHARTER IS YOUR COUNTY CONSTITUTION] The meeting lasted over 7 hours. Putting this lengthy broadcast together was costly and time consuming. Zion Estes, the producer, and I contributed the funding. We decided to reduce some of Zion's time rendering the tapes by deleting many of the public speakers. Sorry about that.... It certainly would be great if the County could afford to provide "on demand" broadcasts of important public hearings.
^A melodious thrush and some other residents from Waimea