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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Kahalu'u plans for future

By Eloise Aguiar
Advertiser Windward O'ahu Writer

WORKSHOP JAN. 26

Workshop on Kahalu'u Community Master Plan

7-9 p.m. Jan. 26

This first community meeting will include a historic perspective of Kahalu'u, which can be seen at honoluludpp.org/Planning/Kahaluu/BackgroundRptDec.pdf.

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KAHALU'U Plans for Kahalu'u once called for an industrial area in the valley, a deep-draft harbor on the shore, hundreds of residential lots and some hotel resorts.

Chance and activism, however, kept the country untouched. Today, with a rural future ensured, Kahalu'u residents are on the threshold of planning the kind of community they'll turn over to the next generation.

Residents sought the plan because of the business growth near the Hygienic Store, said Amy Luersen, a Kahalu'u Neighborhood Board member. But people soon realized that they couldn't focus on one area without considering other issues like access, safety and traffic.

Luersen said the end product should be a shared vision that helps develop a list of improvements that the community agrees upon.

"For so long we reacted to things," she said. "Now this really gives us an opportunity to be proactive."

The planning process includes forming an advisory group to work with a consultant. Some 17 people with connections to Kahalu'u are involved, including John Mossman, whose family is from the area. Learning that Kahalu'u was slated for an industrial area or a deep draft harbor was shocking, said Mossman, a landscape architect.

As an advisory committee member, he said he appreciates the activists that helped protect the area from development and now the new generations must take a stance and decide what Kahalu'u will be like, he said.

"Local style is, I don't want to go to the meeting and only when I find out something is wrong then I grumble," Mossman said, adding that "people should participate if they want the right to grumble later on."

Nick Cambra, a longtime Kahalu'u resident, said a plan is necessary because individual views within the community vary widely and there are few things residents agree upon.

Initial meetings with the consultant and an advisory group revealed diverse issues, including traffic controls and park improvements. A public meeting later this month is expected to reveal the community's concerns and desires, Cambra said.

"We're supposed to be solving the problems of Kahalu'u or helping Kahalu'u to solve its own problems," he said.

This first community meeting will include a historic perspective of Kahalu'u, which can be seen at honoluludpp.org/Planning/Kahaluu/BackgroundRptDec.pdf, said city consultant Scott Ezer, with Helber Hastert and Fee, Planners.

Residents' ideas will be sought and the consultant will use the information to plan a vision for improvements for the next 10 to 20 years for which public funding can be spent, Ezer said.

Since the 1960s, Kahalu'u residents have spent their energy fending off development. Through the Sustainable Community Plan, they stopped urbanization at Valley of the Temples and 'Ahuimanu. At a policy level, everyone agrees Kahalu'u should remain rural, Ezer said.

"Maybe now as a collective community it can get on with figuring out how to improve that rural context," he said.

Reach Eloise Aguiar at eaguiar@honoluluadvertiser.com.