|Home||About Us||Protecting Hawai‘i||Education||Beautification||Branches||Support Us||Blog|
ALERT: Hearing on Bill 69 at 10 AM Wednesday Dec. 11th, click here to submit testimony.
Honolulu City Mayor Kirk Caldwell is seeking authority to sell external advertising space on city buses to reduce the City’s current budget deficit. The Outdoor Circle, Hawai‘i’s oldest, environmental advocate and champion of the 1927 ban on billboards, has long opposed outdoor advertising because it undermines the scenic beauty of our islands.
Like the City, The Outdoor Circle is also very concerned about the City’s longstanding budget shortfall. Honolulu’s parks and trees already suffer from insufficient funding and would likely be early victims in the next round of budget cuts. Many Circle members are also avid bus-riders, who want to see improved and expanded bus service.
Yet, members of the Circle found the Mayor’s proposal to be dubious and dangerous because it could significantly weaken current controls on outdoor advertising and not balance the city’s budget.
The city’s budget shortfall now stands at $156 million. Advertising on the outside of buses is expected to raise $8 million at best, and more likely would raise only $2 million a year. As such, this proposal would soil Honolulu’s scenic beauty and we would still be forced to cut funding to public parks and other essential public services.
Residents and visitors already suffer with the lack of enforcement on stationary sign violations and convoluted applications of the current mobile advertising ban. With outdoor advertising on city buses, it would be a short trip to seeing signs on bus shelters, transit stations, and future rail cars.
Circle members appreciate Mayor Caldwell’s attempts to address these concerns, but his efforts fall short. He cannot promise that the content of the advertising would not be offensive, as constitutional protections guarantee equal access to any form open for public use.
Hawai‘i is special. We want to protect its largest city from turning into just another metropolis, where one cannot blink without being inundated with commercial advertising.
The Outdoor Circle looks forward to working with Mayor Caldwell and his administration to find workable solutions to the City’s budget challenges, but cannot support advertising on the exterior of city buses.
Hawaii News Now: Proposal would put ads on City buses
Star-Advertiser: Exterior ads could earn $8 million
Executive Director’s Message
During this time of great celebration, I wanted to take a moment to thank our donors and volunteers. The Outdoor Circle is blessed to have a large, generous ‘ohana of donors and volunteers that make it possible for our branches to “keep Hawaii clean, green, and beautiful.” Thank you.
This year, individual contributions to the Circle increased by 35%. This means donations from family and friends to the Circle is up by more than a third. This is a significant and heart-warming trend. These individual donations make it possible for the Circle to plant trees, challenge inappropriate development, and educate children and adults about the value of trees to our urban environment. If you are interested in backing the work of the Circle, please visit our “donate now” page.
At the same time, this year, the Circle also managed to reduce its overhead expenses by 10%. This frees up more money for projects to fulfill our mission, but also means that we are relying more and more on volunteer support. We are so grateful that our volunteers are stepping up to the challenge (and bringing their friends with them!). Volunteers fulfill a wide variety of roles in the Circle from data entry to beautification projects to public policy advocacy in our Honolulu office and at our community-based branches throughout the islands. If you are interested in volunteering, please send us an email at mail(at)outdoorcircle.org.
Marti Townsend, E.D.
A holiday toast to you all and mahalo for being a friend to The Outdoor Circle.
Our branches have been busy this fall, with planting and mulching parties, landscaping conferences, complete streets promotion, Exceptional Trees advocacy, restaurant fundraiser, Arbor Day projects, and in-school planting and education programs. Thank you to the branches of The Outdoor Circle for everything you all continue to do!
On November 10, The Outdoor Circle Board and all branch Presidents were invited to Washington Place to receive an honor from the Governor for the Exceptional Trees Act. The Outdoor Circle also invited all of our Inner Circle donors to thank them for their contributions to keeping The Outdoor Circle on mission. We received full support from the Governor in implementing our Exceptional Trees Initiative. The proclamation is available to read on our website, where there are many photos of the event. We had many treasures at this cocktail party. Ginny Tiu came back to the Washington Place piano, making the Queen’s home come alive with her artistry. Melinda Caroll sang and played guitar to the lovely hula of Kawena Mechler, as they roamed the grounds, honoring each exceptional tree. Mark Noguchi served the best locally grown gourmet pupu I’ve ever tasted: the bruschetta was made with Kiawe flour, topped with smoked opah. Champagne, compliments of TOC advisor Jo Best was poured along with hibiscus and lemongrass tea from my own garden.
There are two new exciting ventures for The Outdoor Circle. One is in the advocacy toward the creation of an Environmental Court, which will allow environmental cases to be heard by judges with expertise in this field of law. Hawai’i is fortunate to have Judge Michael Wilson, who has travelled extensively to learn about how this relatively simple court change can make a big difference in the protection of the hand that feeds us, the Aloha and the beauty of our state. We thank Jan Dapitan of Maui Outdoor Circle for encouraging our members to support this venture at our Full Circle meeting in September.
The other big venture is our new education program directed by Cindie Ogata, who is actively partnering with schools on Oahu to teach students about land stewardship. She has developed a GPS mapping program to identify all of the Exceptional Trees by exact location. We will be engaging high school students for this program, and giving the maps to the City and County of Honolulu. Following this pilot program, we intend to make it available for all branches to do the same in their counties.
We hope to hear from you, our membership and heart of The Outdoor Circle, about what interests you and how you would like us to best serve our mission of keeping Hawai’i Clean, Green and Beautiful.
President of The Outdoor Circle
Working to keep Hawai`i clean, green, and beautiful since 1912
The historic Lahina Town Monkeypod tree is one step closer to being protected thanks to a bill currently working its way through the Maui County Council that would protect historic trees.
According to the Maui County Council blog, Land Use Committee Chairman Carroll said:
“The Maui County Code currently establishes a protection process for ‘large trees’ in historic districts within Wailuku,” he said. “The proposed bill will authorize the protection of certain trees in all historic districts within the County.
“I urge the members to refer this bill to the Maui Planning Commission. The commission has the appropriate people and time to look into this bill and receive substantial testimony from the public. I would hate to see this bill falling into limbo again.”
Special thanks to the members of the Maui Outdoor Circle and all those on Maui working to advance this bill and protect all significant trees.
**Image of the Lahina Monkeypod from the Maui Weekly.
Throughout the state, electric utility companies like Hawaiian Electric Company and Hawaiian Electric and Light Company have begun implementing a pole replacement policy that nearly doubles the height of utility poles. A few brave residents unwilling to accept the utility company’s position that the loss of our natural viewplanes is unavoidable have called on the Public Utilities Commission to act. The Outdoor Circle joined the cause; we are seeking a more transparent and proactive process for neighbors to secure underground utility lines BEFORE taller, wider poles are erected in our neighborhoods. The PUC is accepting public comment on this docket and we strongly encourage all of you to participate.
Please send your comments to the PUC by emailing hawaii.puc(at)hawaii.gov and mail(at)outdoorcircle.org. Tell the PUC how much you value the breathtaking viewscapes of our islands, describe the ways in which utility lines mar these views, and that you would like the opportunity to decide whether utility lines should be undergrounded in your neighborhood before taller poles are installed. The deadline to comment is January 30, 2014.
You can also help with a donation towards the legal fees for this public hearing process.
By Beverley Brand
In celebration of Arbor Day, The Outdoor Circle made $1000.00 available to each Outdoor Circle branch from the memorial Chris Snyder Education Fund.
WVOC purchased and planted 4 nice sized jatrophaas in Puu Nui Park. Mahalo to Dr. Stewart Lawrence, Thomas and Katherine Tachach. Ed Brown, Goodfellow Bros. Mahalo also to Michael and Buddy. It’s just the beginning though. There is so much more to be done before we can be proud of this little park.
By Rex Dubiel and Joan Gossett
On Saturday, November 16, the North Shore Outdoor Circle (NSOC) helped to host a Bike Path clean-up with 150 volunteers. The Bike Path that runs along Kamehameha Highway at Sunset Beach is a testament to the vocal strength and fortitude, for which NSOC has become well-known for their community.
About 40 years ago, community members began lobbying the City and the State to create a bike path in a section of the former railroad tracks of the Oahu Railway and Land Company. Finally in 1990, they succeeded! The Ke Ala Pupukea Bike Path was built, but with the understanding that no funds would be released for landscaping. At that point, the NSOC stepped in and accepted the challenge of landscaping and maintaining the path for 5 years. The members worked with residents along the path and created a valuable North Shore asset.
Five years turned into thirteen, as gardens were built and maintained along the bike path by residents with the support of the North Shore Outdoor Circle, the military, and other volunteers. Rex Dubiel, a NSOC Vice President, has been a liaison between the City and community since the mid 1990’s. With Kerry Germain and other dedicated members of our branch, she has coordinated clean-ups and plantings during that time and held a dance at Waimea Valley every fall to raise funds for tools and plants for the path. The City took charge of the Bike Path in 2006 and subcontracted the maintenance. Even though the City began maintaining the path in July 2013, NSOC is still very much involved. As we demonstrated on November 16th, NSOC and its partners will continue to work on the Bike Path to keep it clean, green and beautiful. Our branch has promised that this commitment to the community will continue for years to come.
by Maureen Murphy
For the eighth year in a row The Kauai Outdoor Circle participated in an Arbor Day celebration by having an educational booth at the Kauai Landscape Industry Council’s tree giveaway on November 2, 2013. In addition to getting more trees out into the urban forest, the goal of this event, sponsored in part by a grant from the Kaulunani Urban Forestry Grant Program, is to educate the public on the importance of trees and how to properly take care of them. TKOC focused on such topics as the right tree in the right place, proper planting and pruning techniques, and why topping is detrimental to the health and safety of trees. Other booths included the Invasive Species Committee, the Kauai Native Plant Society, and a Kid’s Corner where they planted their own tree seeds.
Over 660 people attended and about 1800 plants were given away. Kauai Nursery and Landscaping donate a bag of compost with each tree to help give it a good start.
Pictured: The Kauai Outdoor Circle members at the Arbor Day Tree Giveaway—board member Marty Kuala, President Maureen Murphy, and Vice President Linda Muter
Members of the Kane‘ohe Outdoor Circle braved rainy skies to tour the Waikalua Loko Fishpond and were rewarded with an amazingly beautiful view of Kane‘ohe. Thank you to Uncle Herb Lee for welcoming us and sharing his positive vision for the people of Kane‘ohe. Kane‘ohe OC members will be partnering with the Waikalua Loko Fishpond to turn an area near the pond into a beautiful and edible garden. If you are interested in working with us on this project, please send a note to kaneoheoutdoorcircle(at)hotmail.com.
by Beverley Brand
We are sad to report that the wiliwili tree in the little park on the corner of Paniolo and Lua Kula is dead and crumbling. It was recently removed. WVOC hopes to enlist the help of cultural artists to fashion a memorial from the viable wood. This cool old tree has taught us a lot. Waikoloa now knows what a wiliwili tree looks like and why one should not be ‘relocated’. It’s hard to say goodbye to this awesome tree, beautiful even now.
WVOC helped to establish the 275-acre Waikoloa Dry Forest Initiative near Waikoloa Village specifically to protect and promote native dry forest trees like, wiliwili and uhiuhi. At least 40 species of dry-forest flora are planted in WDFI, including young wiliwili trees. Tours of the dry forest are available, please contact the Waikoloa Village Outdoor Circle to find out more.
by Diane Harding
LKOC held a great ‘Arbor Month’ mulching party at the Kailua Rec Center, November 23.
Over 25 volunteers distributed 2 tons of mulch around 52 trees from the Kailua Road side of the Rec. Center out to the Kainalu Drive side parking lot, and then out the back entrance to the Kailua library on Kuulei Road. And they did a lot of weed whacking too!
And it was wonderful to have such a great turnout, with a multi generational representation of volunteers, who learned proper mulching techniques, as well as how the proper care of our trees benefits our communities.
**image of mulch from Shred Co. Hawaii
by Joel Kurokawa
The Outdoor Circle participated as a community partner at a recent City and County of Honolulu sponsored symposium MAKING TRANSIT ORIENTED DEVELOPMENT HAPPEN held at the Neal S. Blaisdell Center on Saturday, November 16, 2013. The symposium was organized by the Transit Oriented Development Branch of the Department of Planning and Permitting. Hundreds of people from many communities across Oahu participated in the symposium with a goal of engaging the community about ways to improve neighborhoods around the planned Honolulu rail route. Better Block Hawaii, an action team spearheaded by Linda Schatz and other community minded individuals assisting the City reached out to TOC recognizing our legitimate concerns for creating quality neighborhoods for all ages that are designed to encourage healthy living and green environments. Other community partners included AARP, Hawaii Bicycling League, and UH Sea Grant among others. TOC contributed one of the several pop-up activity areas along the covered lanai in front of the Blaisdell Center as a demonstration for an imaginary area near a transit station promoting the organization and the importance of urban trees, plants, and open spaces as a critical improvement strategy for making neighborhoods more pedestrian-friendly in the urban context.
A big mahalo goes out to Cindie Ogata for loaning her wooden picnic table, garden umbrellas, planter boxes and plants, and for manning the table. Also big mahalo to Alexandra Avery and Vern Hinsvark for manning the table and helping with takedown after the event.
**rendering of a “complete street” from dc.streetsblog.org
The Waikoloa Village Outdoor Circle’s annual plant sale was a major success. Thank you to everyone who came out to help make both our community and calabash green! Your support makes it possible for us to “help keep Hawaii clean, green, and beautiful.” Mahalo!!
The Outdoor Circle is honored to announce our Exceptional Tree Initiative, a multi-year plan to plant future Exceptional Trees, help maintain current Exceptional Trees, and improve public parks where most Exceptional Trees are located. Governor Neil Abercrombie endorsed the Exceptional Tree Initiative at the 2013 Celebration of the Exceptional Tree Act (Act 105, 1976) at Washington Place. Click here to see images from the event.
The Exceptional Tree Initiative is a major, statewide effort to improve and perpetuate the iconic and majestic trees in our communities. To be successful, it will need the financial backing of members and donors. You can support the Exceptional Tree Initiative by making a secure, online donation to The Circle today. Funds raised for the Exceptional Tree Initiative will support the production of educational materials, grassroots advocacy for Exceptional Trees, such as re-convening the county Arborists Committees, tree plantings, and other related expenses.
It it a sad day. Today, the ionic “Earpod” tree on Ke’eaumoku Street, between Young and King Streets is being removed. After years of hard work by City officials and expert arborists to save it, this amazing tree finally succumbed to disease and decay. This tree is one of only 8 Earpods recognized as an Exceptional Tree. We will mourn the loss of this tree, but hope that future tree plantings will replace what was lost today.
From Alexandra Avery and Steve Mechler of TOC’s Board:
“It is always unfortunate when the community loses an exceptional specimen like the magnificent Earpod tree on Ke’eaumoku Street that has been part of our urban forest for over a century. This tree has been monitored by the City’s Division of Urban Forest and several top-notch arborists for many years. Sadly, their assessment concluded that this tree has succumbed to disease, and publish safety concerns necessitate its removal. Fortunately, there is an adjacent Exceptional Kapok tree that will hopefully help to fill in the canopy void left by the Earpod tree removal.
The loss of this Earpod highlights the need for The Exceptional Tree Initiative. This statewide initiative, recognized by The Outdoor Circle and the State of Hawaii, will partner with other non-profits, schools, and private groups to promote and re-plant large canopy trees in our urban communities. As with a century ago, when many of today’s majestic trees were planted, we hope the new trees being planted today will become tomorrow’s Exceptional trees.”
About the Earpod from “Majesty II: The Exceptional Trees of Hawaii”:
“When Dr. Hillebrand planted his Nu’uanu garden in the 1850’s, one of the earliest trees to find a home there was the Earpod Tree. Hillebrand’s interest in the species was its potential use in the then-budding shipbuilding and repair industry, a program being promoted by the Monarchy to reap financial reward from the many ships stopping off in Honolulu harbor.”
Image from Hawaii News Now To read more about the removal, visit Hawaii News Now.
The redevelopment of Kaka’ako sounded like an exciting proposition after the State Legislature created the Hawai‘i Community Development Authority in 1976. Although the City protested the takeover, the State argued in favor of a plan to develop an underutilized area of Hawai‘i that would provide economic opportunities to the state. Honolulu residents, they said, could look forward to modern urban planning, residential and business opportunities, shops, restaurants and offices, housing for all income levels as well as open space, parks, and recreational areas.
Today, thirty seven years later, proposals for high-rise monoliths that “pave over paradise,” disregard significant sites, and block viewplanes have led many residents to reassess the benefits of such large scale development.
While the Outdoor Circle remains supportive of the concept underlying Community Development Districts, it cautions HCDA board members to keep livability and quality of life factors in mind when redeveloping Kaka’ako and asks the City & County of Honolulu to exercise judicious oversight in areas that would impact the public good.
The Outdoor Circle recommends the HCDA do the following:
1. Conform with City Ordinances: Although the state HCDA has the statutory authority to control the height, density, zoning and other controls irrespective of city ordinances, variances should be granted sparingly, if at all. The City height limit is 400’ and several Kaka’ako projects are proposed for 700’. The 40-story Ala Moana Hotel is 400’. A 700’ structure would be almost double that height!
2. Use Community Suggestions: The HCDA should not only listen to and record the concerns of civic organizations, citizens and neighbors but be required to demonstrate its use of community suggestions to guide their decisions. This requirement for actual attention to community concerns would help make HCDA planning more transparent, and thereby strengthen the public’s trust in the planning process.
3. Defer to the City for Utility Load Analysis: The City & County’s power to issue building permits and determine the adequacy of sewer and water resources should be exercised to assure that heavy commercial development does not undermine the city’s infrastructure at taxpayer expense. This is especially critical in development around rail stations. The question of carrying capacity in Kaka‘ako must take into consideration the foreseeable rise in sea level and increase in the frequency and severity of storms.
4. Retain Parks, Open Space and View Planes: HCDA must assure these are provided within their development area. Swimming pools and recreational decks solely for a building’s residents are not sufficient compensation for the public’s loss of open space. Children need parks with basketball courts, baseball and soccer fields and if not provided on site, HCDA should assist the City with resources to provide these amenities. Other improvements include first floor setbacks to provide more open space on the street level. And, finally, with so many high rises on the drawing boards, the HCDA must require and ensure sufficient space between buildings to retain view planes so residents and visitors will know they are still in Hawaii nei.
**image from KHON2
By Alexandra Avery
Pictured: Judge Michael Wilson
On November 21st, the Environmental Law Program at the UH Richardson Law School hosted a forum on the concept of an Environmental Court in Hawaii that featured Judge Michael Wilson, DLNR Deputy Director William Tam, and DLNR Enforcement Chief Randy Awo. It was a thrilling experience! I attended the forum on behalf of the Circle, along with Chris of Keep the Hawaiian Islands Beautiful, Adi Nycz (Richardson ‘13) and TOC Board member, and Pauline MacNeil with Lani-Kailua branch.
Richardson law students had organized this event after taking a class in crime and the environment. Judge Michael Wilson had just returned from India where he met with all of the regional judges responsible for enacting a country wide Environmental Court there. He cited some of the important Hawai’i land use cases and how they approximated an environmental court process. He asked the students to consider the weight of this idea on future generations. When the professor asked for a paper on the solution to such a backlog of environmental issues, most students suggested a type of environmental court. It seemed that Judge Wilson was in favor of the law school leading this issue. I also stood up to say that on behalf of our members The Outdoor Circle is willing to lend our weight to the effort, as well.
An environmental court could be established in Hawaii through an administrative procedure within the Judiciary or through a legislative initiative. Our goal is to ensure consistent, timely, and reliable enforcement of our current environmental protections. Watch for more updates and information about the establishment of Hawaii’s Environmental Court in the near future.
Mahalo to all the donors that helped to make our evening at Washington Place a beautiful and very successful event! We were blessed with wind and showers, along with the inspiring words of First Lady Dr. Nancie Caraway and Governor Abercrombie. We were honored to receive a Proclamation from the Governor, as well as his support for our new “Exceptional Tree Initiative,” our new multi-year plan to re-invest in our public parks and exceptional trees.
It was beautiful! Click here to see more pictures on Facebook (you do not need an account to view the images).
We also enjoyed local, gourmet delicacies from the kitchen of Chef Mark Noguchi with the Pili Group. They specialize in locally grown, creative fare that builds on time-tested local favorites. The Pili Group just opened a new restaurant near the Honolulu Airport called “Lunchbox.” Tag them on Facebook @ Pili Hawaii.
A special mahalo to Cameron, Corrine, and all of the docents and staff at Washington Place for keeping safe watch over the national treasure that is the home of the Queen. Your extra attention and depth of knowledge made this event particularly special.
This event was organized by Steve Mechler and Diane Harding with the help of the Circle’s fundraising committee. Thank you for pulling together such a memorable event.
by Alexandra Avery
In early September all of our branches gathered for a full circle annual meeting on Maui. The Maui Outdoor Circle did a fabulous job hosting the event, which included a guided tour of the Kanaha Wetland and Bird Sanctuary. Each branch gave a summary of their year’s events, projects and fundraisers. We developed a full circle priority list which includes focusing on the best stewardship of our public parks, advocating for more public green space and working under one canopy state wide to protect and improve our land use policies.
As we move into our second century, we put forth a unified vision — straightforward goals, achieved together with one strong voice. The Outdoor Circle celebrates the 40th year of the state wide Exceptional Trees Act, that now faces serious challenges. One hundred years ago our fore bearers planted many of the trees now protected under the state Exceptional Trees Act. Today, some of these trees are reaching the end of their natural lifespan and are expected be removed soon by state and county personnel. By highlighting this Outdoor Circle inspired law we can reinvigorate Hawaii’s Exceptional Tree Program and protect and replant trees throughout our islands. Let’s embrace this timely invitation to stand up for Exceptional Trees (and all trees, really), since there are significant and exceptional trees in every community. Under this banner of united attention, all of our branches are working to build an even stronger canopy and further protect the unparalleled natural beauty of our islands.
We can continue to successfully accomplish our mission through the wide reach of our statewide organization. Like a tree trunk, the central entity feeds the growth of our branches, funneling resources to each from the rich soil of a shared love for our islands. The branches, in turn, work hard to serve the needs of their members — the leaves of our great tree. Together our preservation and beautification efforts make up the canopy that keeps Hawaii Clean, Green, and Beautiful. All of these efforts are made possible by your membership and donations, so spread the word, share our website and face book page, and help us reach our goals.
by Marti Townsend, Executive Director
A deep and warm mahalo to all of the members that participated in our 2013 Full Circle Meeting. This year’s Full Circle was made special thanks to the work of the Maui Outdoor Circle, who hosted the all-day event. From the Kanaha field trip to the food to the great goody bags, the Maui branch really went above and beyond to make our experience unique and memorable. Thank you very much!
This year’s Full Circle was also special because for the first time it was open to all members of the Circle. Over 40 members from all islands participated in the event. We started the day with an expert-led field trip to the Kanaha Beach Park and Bird Sanctuary, where we learned about the proposal to build a commercial medical building inside the wetland and the effort to protect this rare and important ecosystem for the wildlife and the residents to enjoy.
Following the field trip, we heard reports from the field. Every branch presented about the projects, controversies, and victories in their areas. We learned about each others’ work and ways we can better work together.
Then we discussed statewide priorities for The Outdoor Circle. After a month-long online survey and considerable in-person discussion, members let their voice be heard. The members of TOC want to:– Enforce current land use policies and protections through the formation of a state Environmental Court, – Advocate for more public greenspaces, like parks, and improve current greenspaces throughout Hawaii, especially in dense urban areas, – Produce educational PSAs that highlight the relationship between trees and fresh water resources,
The next step is researching these issues, formulating our specific positions, and developing strategies for achieving our goals. If any members are interested in participating in this phase of the effort. Please let us know. We need all the help we can get. The Legislative Session is right around the corner.
Some choice comments from the debrief survey:
This is truly, a group of intelligent, dedicated people who had interesting ideas to share.
I liked meeting other members and learning about their activities. Thinking about the direction of TOC and where we should put our energy.
Especially happy about the environmental court idea – timely enforcement of environmental laws will make lawbreakers think before they act in a harmful way.
The environmental court idea alone made the trip worthwhile!
In the bigger picture I think we should look into how we can get members to serve on important decision making boards like the LUC, the Planning Commission, and the Environmental Council. I’ve noticed a possible bias toward development on some of these boards.
Some choice images from the event:
by Leigh Prentiss and Pauline MacNeil
Over the last few years, a draft of the revised Master Plan for Kawainui Marsh has been presented at community meetings and public hearings sponsored by State Parks, DOFAW and their paid consultants.
Each meeting began by acknowledging the marsh’s Ramsar designation as a wetland of international importance, the role it plays in flood control, its essential habitat for four of Hawaii’s endangered waterbirds, and its historic, archaeological and cultural significance.
The pictures on the screen always showed a broad expanse of low lying land under a clear sky with a line of blue ocean in the distance. Often, superimposed on this idyllic scene were images of the endangered ‘alae ‘ke’oke’o, ‘alae ‘ula, koloa maoli and the ae’o or Hawaiian stilt.
But this picture has changed in the most recent draft of the Master Plan. Consultants Helber Hastert & Fee Planners are now offering the public drawings of landscaped parking lots, boardwalks, and buildings. These ring the periphery of the marsh beginning at the entrance bridge to Kailua, following a trail behind the neighborhood to Ulupo heiau then below the neighborhood along Church row, past the newly built Army Corps of Engineers Ponds, along Kapa’a Quarry Road, down to Mokapu Blvd and, if the proposed bridge is built, back along the levee to Kailua Town. Public access and recreation are key components of the plan, as well as sites for select stewardship groups to manage cultural and educational centers.
However, buildings and parking lots in this extremely sensitive environment means bulldozers, sediment run-off, and water pollution for this important wetland habitat.
But the consultants argue that the trail system, parking lots and buildings are needed to service local and international visitors who will be better able to appreciate the marsh and it looks like DLNR might support a visitor destination modeled after Haunama Bay or the Polynesian Cultural Center because they believe development and tourism will attract funding.
Certainly, DLNR needs more money for staff, maintenance and enforcement and it is impressive what they are doing with the limited resources they have. But DLNR would be the first to tell us that run-off from parking lots is harmful to the wetlands and that removal of vegetation to make way for buildings creates a cascade of environmental problems.
Before we get carried away with putting more buildings, roads, and parking lots in the marsh, perhaps we can all step back and ask: If we build this, will the water be cleaner in 50 years, will the number of endangered waterbirds increase, will our children still have a beautiful and wild wetland to explore and will the Hawaiian community still have a marsh that does justice to the spirit of Hauwahine, the legendary mo’o who assured there would be enough to eat if the marsh and fishponds were properly maintained?
The Outdoor Circle – Kona has proposed a board of directors and is moving forward, slowly but carefully. First the proposed new board will be:
Interim President: Marni Herkes
Vice President and Secretary:Ellen Currens
Treasurer: Dick Towle
Director at large: Nancy Gillette
Director at large: Walt Bobb
Advisor: Diana Duff
Advisor: Norman Bezona
Advisor: Hazel Beck
Support: Julie Lyle
We have set Friday, October 25, 2013, at 4 PM to 6 PM at Hawaii Natural Food in Kailua, Kona for our Annual meeting. The upstairs room has been reserved. For more information, contact Julie by emailing: koc(at)konaoutdoorcircle.org.
By Richard Melton (husband of Central Board member Kathleen Bryan)
There used to be a huge Royal Poinciana tree (Delonix regia) between the `Iolani Palace and the State Capital. It was brought to Hawai‘i and planted in the 1860s by Dr. William Hildebrand, the first physician at the newly established Queen’s Hospital. He was also a botanist and was commissioned by the Kingdom of Hawai’i to search Asia for a cure for leprosy and also bring back exotic plants. In the mid 1980s I was employed at Honolulu Hale. On my way to work each morning I walked across the Palace grounds and under that tree, which was then 120 years old. It was over 40 feet tall and the canopy was 50 feet in diameter. It was not like the smaller, gnarled variety that most people know as Poincianas. This variety had straight branches and was majestic like the huge shower trees common all over Hawai`i. The only other Royal Poinciana of this large variety that I have seen is at Castle Hospital.
One day while passing under the tree I saw scores of seedlings sprouting up all around in the grass, each with a little white stalk and two tiny leaves. I looked up and remembered its spectacular display of bright red-orange flowers each spring, which eventually fell to form a beautiful red-orange carpet on the grass. Even in the winter when it had lost its leaves the fine shape of the massive, smooth, bare branches was awe-inspiring.
I gasped as I realized that these seedlings were from this tree and maybe someday I could have a tree like this in the yard of our recently purchased home in Kailua.
I used a pencil to loosen the soil around the thread-like roots and gently teased out about a dozen seedlings. At work I wrapped them in a wet paper towel. That evening I planted them in a tray. Four survived! Two I gave away. Thirty years later one is still in a big pot and has become a graceful, 5 foot tall, lichen covered bonsai. The last was planted in the ground and now spreads 50 feet completely across our front yard.
As it grew larger I remembered it would become as massive as its mother had been at `Iolani Palace. I didn’t want it to get so tall that I couldn’t trim it myself. So each winter after it lost its leaves I trimmed off all the new branch starts pointing skyward and left most of the new lateral growth. This has shaped the tree to be only 20 feet tall, about half its natural height, made it very strong against high winds, and still allowed it to spread its beautiful canopy. In the blistering summer heat it provides cooling shade to the entire front yard and also helps to cool the house.
Everyone who sees it loves this tree that provides such beauty and character to our yard.
Editor’s note: to learn more about O‘ahu’s Exceptional Trees, click here to visit the City’s Exceptional Tree Program.
The North Shore Outdoor Circle organized a farm tour on August 20th to the May’s Wonder Gardens Hydroponic Lettuce Farm mauka of Hale’iwa.
It was an adventure traveling up the old Cane Road – 4 miles of it dirt – and Drum Road, neither of which are open to the public. There were fields of papaya, bananas and corn as well as empty fields and a few side roads leading to other farms. It got greener as the road got higher. At the top is a reservoir that supplies the lettuce farm’s water.
The current owners of the farm are Lee and Sophie Byrant (Lee is a member of NSOC). They took over the farm in 2012 from the previous owners and want to do it right, so they are keeping it small as they learn. Their lettuce goes to supply Costco, Safeway, Tamura’s, Armstrong Produce, Swoish Produce, and Times Supermarket, among other local vendors. Lee kept all the former employees, added new staff, and says they all love their jobs up on the mountain as he does.
Lee and Sophie had set up a large tent with tables and chairs for the group. They supplied orange juice, tea and water as they talked about their farm. The main shed houses two refrigerated rooms where the lettuce is placed after picking. They demonstrated how each head is examined, bagged and sealed.
They showed how the lettuce is planted by a small mechanized arm with multiple tips which picks up seeds and places one in each hole of a biodegradable block. Then the blocks are put into trays on tables where they are hand watered for 14 days. After that the individual heads are placed in the hydroponic trays out in the fields. These are inspected at least four times a day for spotting or any problems with watering, nutrients, or bugs.
The hydroponic trays have circulating nutrient water. The mineral nutrients are bought from different countries and are mixed with chlorinated reservoir water according to a formula. They check the pH daily, observe all health regulations, and use only very safe methods of insect control.
Picking the crops starts early at 5 am and they pick about 10,000 heads a day. The altitude is great for growing lettuce (995 ft). They have Manoa lettuce, butter lettuce, romaine, green leaf, lolla rosa and red oak varieties, all grown from organic seed.
After our tour Lee’s wife Sophie put out her homemade sandwiches, potato salad, macaroni salad, and lettuce salad, as well as vegetables, cheeses, French bread, grapes and cookies for a wonderful luncheon. NSOC was the first group that they have entertained up on the farm.
It was a fun and informative day. Farming isn’t easy but Lee said he is really enjoying the challenge.
Thanks to Joan Gossett for setting it up with Lee and allowing the Pupukea Seniors to tag along. Also thanks to Peggy Cutting for her organization and report which was the basis of this article.
Here’s the good news: The property owner partners of Wailea 670 have committed to a 130-acre native plant preserve!!
We asked for 170-acres which would allow more of the Wiliwili to be left untouched. Even if 130 acres is the final size, this could be enough to nominate Wailea 670 for Maui County’s Old Growth Forest. We have hope that we will have some sort of signed agreement regarding the preserve by early next year.
Mahalo to Kumu Michael Lee, Kumu Kelii Tau’a, Kimokea Kapahlehua, Charlie Jencks and his wife, and Daniel Kanahele for conducting a very moving ceremony to clear the path and rededicate this next phase of the land’s use.
Here’s the not so good news: A new archaeological survey is underway on Wailea 670. It is very exciting because they are finding numerous important sites, beyond the 60 archeological sites that were originally documented. However, typical of archeological assessments of this type, the team is forced to move very fast; photographing hundreds of site a day.
There may be an opportunity for public and cultural access to the area. If you are interested in walking the land and helping with the protection of native plants and cultural sites, then please contact the Maui Outdoor Circle at mauioutdoorcircle(at)gmail.com.
Mahalo to all who have participated in the effort to protect Wailea 670 and to Maui Tomorrow for its continued leadership and collaboration.
A group of sixty six third grade students from nearby Waimea Elementary School, along with teachers and parent volunteers, recently spent the morning at Waimea Outdoor Circle’s Nature Park spreading wood chips and sprucing up trails. They ended the day with a picnic lunch and games. School groups from the Waimea area are responsible for creating most of the trails within the ten acre park and participate in service projects under the guidance of Waimea Outdoor Circle volunteers on a regular basis.
The Outdoor Circle was fortunate to recently receive a gift of stock from a donor who prefers to remain anonymous. It was a wonderful gift and reminder of the extra benefit a gift of stock can be for the donor. In fact, it sometimes can allow a donor to make a larger gift with more impact than if cash was gifted cash from his/her monthly cash flow.
Here is one way it could work:
Let’s say, Mimi has a portfolio of stocks she has been accumulating for many years. She has recently been thinking of selling Widget Co., because it doesn’t generate much income and she and her advisors think that although it has doubled in value since she bought it, there is no longer as much growth potential. She has 100 shares of Widget Co. that she purchased for $100 each and they are now worth $200 each. If she sells the stock she would owe capital gains tax of 15% on that $10,000 of growth (100 shares x $100 appreciation), or $1,500.
If Mimi gifted the stock to The Outdoor Circle, then she would receive an income tax deduction for the full market value of $20,000, and she would avoid capital gains tax on the appreciation. In her 35% tax-bracket, that deduction would mean a tax savings of $7,000 income tax from the deduction and $1,500 capital gains tax she didn’t have to pay, for a total of $8,500 in tax savings.
If Mimi needed to keep some of the sales proceeds, she could gift only half the stock (50 shares worth $10,000) and use the tax savings to not only off-set her capital gain entirely, but receive additional tax savings as well.
Here’s how that would work: Mimi sells 50 shares for $10,000. Her capital gain is $100 per share or $5,000. She will have $750 capital gains tax due ($5,000 gain x 15% capital gains tax rate). But in the same year she donates the other 50 shares worth $10,000, and she gets that amount of an income tax deduction for the gift. That deduction completely off-sets the $750 capital gains tax on the stock she sold and provides her with an additional $2,750 income tax savings ($10,000 x .35% income tax rate = $3,500 tax savings, less $750 capital gains tax = $2,750 total tax savings).
Even if Mimi’s stock went down in value after purchase she could increase her tax savings over and above the deduction for the loss on sale by making a gift. Say the Widget Co. stock which originally was worth $100 per share at purchase was now worth $50 per share. Mimi could sell all 100 shares and receive $5,000. She would have an income tax loss of $5,000, which would provide tax savings of $1,750 ($5,000 x .35% tax bracket). She could then donate the cash from the sale to The Outdoor Circle and receive a charitable deduction of $1,750. That would double her tax savings for a total of $3,500.
There are also ways to gift appreciated property like stock or real estate and retain an income for life (and for two lives for couples). Call 808-593-0300 if you are interested in exploring options for making gifts other than cash. The Outdoor Circle is honored to have an estate and financial planner on the board, who spent 30 years doing this work at a local bank and is pleased to discuss gift-making options.
Bills at the state and county levels seek to authorize the forced removal of trees deemed a nuisance by others. This is not the first time disputes between neighbors over trees have turned unneighborly. However, the seemingly rabid pressure to “go solar” does add a new, powerful justification to the idea of chopping down Hawaii’s beloved trees.
To be clear, TOC does support the move to renewable energy sources. Solar energy makes a lot of sense for Hawaii. That said, we take issue with a “green” industry that actually advocates for the removal of competing greenery.
Let’s not pit the trees against the sun. There is room here enough for all of us. Instead, let’s find a good balance for the trees, our residents, and our to produce electricity.
Watch for more updates about specific “nuisance tree” proposals at the state legislature and county councils in the coming months. If you are interested in helping TOC advocate for the protection of trees in this context, please contact us 808-593-0300.
Total expenditures just for the 12 months between August 2012 and August 2013 were $256 million. Of that amount $166 million was for professional services and that were likely all for the consulting/Public Relations firm, Parsons Brinckerhoff. Below is HART’s data from their website together with links:
August 2012: http://www.honolulutransit.org/media/133328/20120801-rail-update-hart-facts.pdf
August 2013: http://www.honolulutransit.org/media/202389/201308-rail-update-hart-facts.pdf
Thank you, Honolulutraffic.org, for this information.
Answer: Weekend removals “are a challenge” because most highway crews only work weekdays. Weekend crews generally are assigned to specific projects. Click here to read the September 20th 2013 Kokua Line article.
Now through November 30, 2013, you can support the Circle’s work and our local restaurants! Click here to purchase your tickets online or mail a check to 1314 S. King St. #306 Honolulu 96814.
Help support The Outdoor Circle and enjoy fine dining at many Windward O‘ahu restaurants, including Kalapawai Cafe, Bella Bistro, Baci Bistro, Catcus, Uahi Grill, and Zia’s!
Your ticket purchase of $80, provides you with four redeemable food vouchers and a one year membership to The Outdoor Circle, which you can gift or use for renewal.
Each voucher can be redeemed for a delicious appetizer, from any of these Windward restaurants, on any night or nights this fall, until November 30, 2013.
Each establishment is providing several appetizers from which to choose to redeem your vouchers.
All other food and beverage purchases, tax, and gratuity are the diner’s responsibility.
Due to limited seating at some of these venues, we encourage you to make reservations, and enjoy their wonderful entrees and desserts, as well!
Please join this fundraiser that supports The Outdoor Circle in its efforts to preserve our Islands’ beauty and promotes these participating restaurants and their delicious appetizer offerings!
To purchase tickets, click here.
$40 of your ticket purchase is tax deductible.
Please include your return mailing address with your purchase, as your four vouchers and pre-paid TOC membership application will be mailed to you.
Summer is made more brilliant in Hawai’i with the blooming Shower and Royal Poinciana trees. These kinds of shade trees provide protective canopies that play many roles in managing a healthy ecosystem. A large canopy tree is also synonymous with the structure of The Outdoor Circle. Nine branches throughout the state make a wide canopy through which our organization thrives. With our successful record of stewardship in the islands, we are beginning our second millennia revisiting the significant trees planted by our foremothers.
Many of the giant canopy trees seen around the islands, and now deemed Exceptional Trees by their respective counties, were planted by the founders of The Outdoor Circle. Across the state, a good number of these Exceptional Trees have reached the end of their natural lifespan. Inspired by the diligence and vision of our foremothers, members of the The Outdoor Circle today are committed to continuing the work begun 100 years ago by planting trees for the future. To demonstrate our commitment, The Outdoor Circle is embarking on an Exceptional Tree Campaign. We will work with officials in each county to help replant Exceptional Trees that must be removed for public safety. This plan of action includes community members who steward the parks and other public areas where legacy trees are most prevalent. They will have our help in replacing their neighborhood trees with appropriate, native where possible, large canopied trees.
As beneficiaries of the open space and large canopied trees planted years ago, we are reaching out to you now, and to your neighborhoods and friends, to join us in this and other actions, to keep Hawaii clean, green, and beautiful. Our children and grandchildren will benefit from our work today to plant trees and preserve open space. To meet this challenge, we need a strong organization. Please help us grow The Outdoor Circle by encouraging your friends, family, and neighbors to become members. Visit our website to join: http://www.outdoorcircle.org and “friend us” on Facebook/TheOutdoorCircle.
We look forward to meeting members at the 2013 Full Circle Meeting on September 7th. This year’s meeting is very important. For the first time members will debate and identify the priority issue-area for the statewide organization. This is a huge opportunity for the membership to influence the direction of the whole organization — from projects we fund to policies we advocate for at the state level.
To be clear, the Circle will always continue to work on issues related to signage, undergrounding utility lines, and beautification. Having member-driven priorities like this will help the Circle to better leverage its statewide reach and influence on issues that we all agree are core to our mission.
The Full Circle meeting is also important because we will go over the details of implementing the amended bylaws that were approved by the membership in May. TOC’s Board and staff have spent the summer re-working the organization to comply with our new rules. As a result, we will be changing the way we do somethings, including:
- new procedures for processing memberships – training to use our new online membership database – revised policy manual, – new internal grant opportunities, as well as opportunities to collaborate on external grant opportunities such as Kaulunani Council.
Many of these changes will be discussed at the Full Circle meeting in September, as well as at branch board meetings through the Fall. I hope to see you there.
Thanks to the vigilance of Kane‘ohe residents and TOC members, Hawaiian Electric Company’s proposal to replace its current 40-foot utility poles with 60-foot ones will be reviewed by the Public Utilities Commission (PUC). The Outdoor Circle and Life of Land filed separate motions to intervene in the PUC proceeding.
“We are extremely grateful for the civic-minded residents who created this window of opportunity to evaluate the visual blight that is overhead utility lines,” said Marti Townsend, Executive Director of The Circle.
HECo proposes to replace as many as 70,000 utility poles on O‘ahu. This means nearly all utility poles in residential areas that are currently 40-feet tall could be replaced with poles that are 60-feet tall. HECo originally considered this replacement policy to be a matter of internal management, not open to public oversight. That is, until a handful of residents in Kane‘ohe had their poles replaced without notice and called on the PUC to investigate the decision.
In 1997, TOC successfully convinced lawmakers to mandate the undergrounding of powerlines in new subdivisions in Hawaii as an investment in our communities and in reliable electrical service. Unfortunately, residents in older neighborhoods continue to suffer with second-class electrical service and obstructed views. The public hearing before the PUC provides an opportunity to evaluate how the decisions made about utility poles have affected the quality of life for residents in Hawaii. The outcome of the PUC’s investigation in this docket will set a precedence for utility lines throughout the islands.
“HECo demonstrates a real lack of vision for improving Honolulu, when it proposes to spend additional money to make utility lines more of an eye-sore in order to withstand storms, when putting them underground would accomplish the same goal better and beautify our islands at the same time” said Townsend.
PUC is currently considering TOC’s request to intervene before proceeding with the docket.
You can help right now by signing this petition against larger utility poles. This petition was generated by the residents that initiated this PUC docket earlier this year.
Image credits: (1) West Hawaii Today, (2) Honolulu Advertiser
Chief U.S. District Court Judge, Susan Oki Mollway officially blasted the City for failing to consider alternative routes for the rail into downtown. She said “remarkably, the Project’s proposed rail route fails to run along ‘the highly congested east-west transportation corridor between Kapolei and UH Manoa,’ the very corridor expressly identified as the route the Project is intended to serve.” Judge Mollway’s comments were made in response to the supplemental EIS mandated by Judge Tashima.
The plaintiffs in the lawsuit against the rail have worked hard to raise the big issues in this case and the big funds necessary to see the case all the way through. We are $60,000 short of what we need to cover the expenses of the litigation against the City’s Rail EIS. Your donation now will help us see our court appeal all the way through.
Law Professor Randall Roth penned this letter to help us reach our fundraising goal:
A three-judge panel from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments in our case on August 15 in San Francisco, and we expect those judges to render a decision by the end of the year. This did not come easily. Lawyers for the City, FTA, and Pacific Resource Partners took the position that our appeal should be put on hold until the City finalizes its evaluation of a Beretania Street tunnel and the impact of rail on Mother Waldron Park and every traditional cultural property along the planned route. Fortunately, the Ninth Circuit ordered that the appeal proceed immediately and on an expedited basis.
The Ninth Circuit is widely regarded as the best place to be if you are a plaintiff in a case involving environmental and historic preservation issues, such as ours. Copies of the appellate briefs can be found at HonoluluTraffic.com by clicking “Legal Process Docs: Federal Courts” on the left side of the home page, and then scrolling down to “Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.” If you get a chance to look at these briefs, you’ll see that our lawyers have argued our position exceptionally well.
I have long been optimistic about our chances at the Ninth Circuit, but my optimism reached even higher levels when (1) the National Trust for Historic Preservation filed a powerful amicus brief in support of our position1 and (2) all eleven judges and magistrates of the Federal District Court in Hawaii sharply criticized the current rail project. The latter was unprecedented. I have enclosed a copy of that letter together with an explanation of its importance.
Our legal fees thus far have been substantial, but with your generous help we have managed to stay current. To get through the appeals process, we need to raise another $60,000. If you could help once again, that would be greatly appreciated.
In any event, I want to thank you for making it possible to reach this point in the litigation. Without you and others like you elevated heavy rail would be a “done deal.” Instead, we are on the verge of stopping it permanently.
 The National Trust was chartered by Congress in 1949 to further the historic preservation policies of the United States, and to facilitate public participation in the preservation of our nation’s heritage. It brief states unequivocally that the City and FTA “failed to consider feasible and prudent alternatives.”
Click here to donate now on our secure server using your credit card. Or mail a check to The Outdoor Circle at: 1314 S. King St. #306 Honolulu, HI 96814.
The Waimea Branch of The Outdoor Circle was very excited and pleased to welcome several volunteers from IHS Inc, a leading global source of critical information and analytics, in June to the Waimea Nature Park. This group of 46 individuals, who were on the island for a convention, spent three hours on a Friday morning doing strenuous work in the Park. They tirelessly cut and hauled invasive cane grass, cut down castor bean plants on both sides of the running Waikoloa stream, planted two Ohia trees, and hauled many loads of chips to refresh an existing path. Besides all the hard work accomplished, they also donated a large wheelbarrow, 16 pruners and loppers and 50 pairs of gloves. The photo shows Park co-chair Carol Hendricks (on left) along with several of the IHS volunteers loading up cane grass to be hauled away. We commend this dedicated group for their hard work in keeping Waimea clean, green and beautiful.
In May, the NSOC had a wonderful slide presentation by Waimea Valley’s Plant Collection Specialist, David Orr. Entitled The Botanical Wonders of Waimea Valley. It highlighted the plant life on display at Waimea Valley in a three-part presentation: natives, canoe plants, and exotics. His memory for plant names and stories is truly phenomenal. David made this slideshow for a presentation at the Philadelphia Flower Show last year, which had a Hawaiian theme. He has worked at Waimea Valley for almost 24 years, from back when it was still called Waimea Falls Park. He won the Center for Plant Conservation’s highest award, the Star Award in 2003, for his work in rescuing the plant collections after the botanical department was taken off the payroll. An entrepreneur tried to change the valley into an “Adventure Park” in the early 2000’s. Thankfully that is no longer the case. David has lived in Hawaii since 1976. He has travelled to most tropical parts of the world as a backpacker learning (and forgetting) survival skills in six languages, from Tamil and Swahili to Behasa and Mandarin. David gives plant tours at Waimea Valley Park every Thursday and the first and third Sundays of the month, always at 2 PM.
Quick work by TOC members in Kona and Waimea saved 12 of 16 historic Jacaranda trees that line Mamalahoa Highway in South Kona, and exposed poor community notice procedures at the state Department of Transportation.
DOT officials ordered the trees to be removed citing public safety concerns from limbs hanging over the highway. DOT provided no notice of the project to area residents or The Outdoor Circle. As a result, community alarm bells rang as soon as the chainsaws began cutting on June 27th.
Jacarandas are loved in general for their vibrant blue-purple flowers that bloom in April. These 16 Jacaranda trees in particular are cherished for their historic significance. They were planted in the early 1960’s by founding members of the Kona branch of The Outdoor Circle. Their descendants and current branch members worked together to convince the tree trimmers to postpone the removal until an arborist could properly assess the trees.
After considerable public outrage, calls to elected officials and DOT representatives, and articles in the local newspaper, DOT officials agreed to visit the site with members of the Kona branch of the Circle and expert arborists. After a thorough review, it was determined that limbs overhanging the highway could be trimmed to protect motorists without completely removing the trees. A few trees have extensive termite damage and therefore must be removed. A planting plan to replace the Jacaranda trees lost is now being developed with input from neighbors and TOC members.
Image credit: hawaii-aloha.com
In mid-July, the state Department of Transportation removed half a mile of street trees on Mokapu Boulevard in conjunction with the street resurfacing project. The project was strongly criticized for lack of notice to the community.
The mass tree-removal project had been proposed by DOT officials and evaluated by LKOC members nearly ten years ago, but the contract for the project was only recently issued. DOT did not notify residents or The Outdoor Circle that the long-shelved project would finally be implemented. Consequently, residents awoke one morning to hundreds of felled trees with no idea if the cutting would continue to the mature monkey pods down the street.
LKOC members quickly got to the bottom of the issue and learned that the trees were removed because they are thriving and that shower and monkeypod trees are to be planted in their place.
This incident highlighted once again the Department’s need to abide by its own Communications Policy, which promises to integrate “public involvement activities within its projects, beginning with the development of project plans and continuing throughout the life of the projects.”
Experienced LKOC members noted that it is crucial residents and members remain vigilant in order to ensure the replacement trees are indeed planted, as DOT promised.
With seven super-buildings on the table, Kaka‘ako residents are concerned about what the future holds for their community. Already one permit to build a 250-foot tower at 803 Waimanu was denied in early July. Now the HCDA is on the public hearing circuit to garner support for their new development plan for the area.
Here’s one take on HCDA’s plan from a member of our Public Affairs Committee.
It is exciting to see the preliminary plan for Kaka‘ako that has been prepared by the Hawaii Community Development Agency (HCDA). Since 1977, the City and County of Honolulu’s General Plan has called for the full development of the Honolulu Primary Urban Center of which Kaka‘ako is an integral part. It is important that the HCDA, a state agency, prepares plans that are consistent with the County’s long-range development objectives for the area.
Planning for an urban area, especially in an island environment with little land to spare, needs to carefully address the economic, social, cultural, historical, and environmental factors that lead to the optimum quality of life for residents of the area and all those affected by it.
The Kaka‘ako plan envisions mostly high-rise structures occupied by a mix of local full-time residents and foreign part-time residents. The infrastructure requirements can differ significantly depending upon the needs of the various residents. For example, younger singles may look for a vibrant night life; residents with children need schools and play areas; seniors enjoy quiet, passive parks, and community centers; part-time residents may look more toward finer restaurants, cultural experiences and recreational access.
Commuters need efficient access both East and West from Kaka‘ako with assurance that public transportation is not overcrowded, and the streets are not gridlocked. Perhaps a central park will provide a way to bring residents together and create the community pride that can be elusive where there are only separate isolated towers. A carefully designed urban forestry plan will be a necessity, and needs to be developed soon with meaningful public input.
The HCDA plan for Kaka‘ako is a good beginning. As the plan is further refined, it will be interesting to see how the needs of the various types of residents are incorporated so that Kaka‘ako becomes an example of a modern urban area that effectively provides for the needs of a diverse community and its relationship to the rest of the island.
At The Outdoor Circle’s 101st annual meeting, the 2013 Board of Directors was elected by the members. The Board and Officers are: President Alexandra Avery, Vice President Carol Hendricks, Secretary Susan Spangler, Treasurer Midi Cox, Branch Representative Diane Harding; Advisors Joel Kurokawa, Jo-Ann Best and Barbara Marumoto; and At-Large Members Kathleen Bryan, Dr. Jeremy Lam, Jahn-Peter Preis and Adi Nycz.
President Alexandra Avery of Kailua will lead the new board into its second century, with an emphasis on the nurturing and replanting of exceptional trees. “All nine Outdoor Circle branches together form the canopy of our statewide Exceptional Trees Campaign,” said Avery.
Many of the Exceptional Trees we enjoy today were planted by founders and members of The Outdoor Circle over its 100-year history. These trees, protected by state law, are now reaching the end of their natural lifespan. The time has come to plant their successors. The Outdoor Circle is reaching out to the communities throughout the islands to educate residents about the value of our Exceptional Trees and to work together to choose new trees for their neighborhood parks. Our Year of the Exceptional Tree will include a partnership with Earthworks, LLC to foster project-based learning opportunities for grade school students, educational tree tours, and planting projects statewide.
Mahalo to all the members who attended the Annual Membership meeting or submitted proxy votes. In addition to electing the new Board of Directors, the membership also ratified the amendments to our bylaws and our restated articles of incorporation. We are all looking forward to a very productive year at The Outdoor Circle!
It has been my honor and pleasure to serve as President during this exciting year for The Outdoor Circle. I want to take this moment to first thank all of the Board Members who served with me during this time and helped to grapple with the many important issues facing our organization, as well as all of the volunteers who have worked so hard to make all of our undertakings a success.
I am pleased to announce and recommend for approval the 2013 Amended Bylaws for the organization. Click here to read more about the bylaws that were revised through a very involved engagement process.
I am also very pleased to invite everyone to the Hele On Kaka’ako event on Mother’s Day in and around Mother Waldron Park starting at 10 AM. This “Complete Streets” Demonstration and Cyclovia event is the result of hundreds of volunteer hours to design and implement. This will hopefully be the first of many attempts to display the community driven process for designing healthy, people-centric streets throughout Hawai‘i. TOC members will be there all-day at the educational booth and at our very own “parklet”. Click here to learn more about this event from Cycle On Hawai‘i.
The Governor reluctantly signed H.B. 1333 into law to end the Public Lands Development Corporation before the close of 2013 legislative session.
As Hawai‘i’s 2013 Legislature convened in January, The Outdoor Circle was immediately involved in identifying and tracking bills that relate to our mission of keeping Hawai`i “Clean, Green and Beautiful” for future generations.
Even before session began it was clear that the most pressing issue facing lawmakers would be repealing or amending the highly controversial Public Lands Development Corporation. Hundreds of people across the state turned out for PLDC rule-making hearings (pictured), calling for the repeal of the new law. The PLDC was controversial because it granted the authority to enter into public-private development agreements whose skids would be greased by exemptions from the environmental reviews required to protect Hawai`i’s beauty and natural resources.
By the time the 2013 Legislature opened its doors a dozen or more bills had been introduced to severely modify and outright repeal the PLDC. Many authored and supported by lawmakers who previously created the PLDC monster.
As the PLDC bills made their way through the process, TOC collaborated with legislators, other organizations and individual advocates to ensure a unified approach to PLDC-related legislation. In the end, only one bill survived unamended and on the Governor’s desk. House Bill 1133: signed. The PLDC: done.
TOC staff initially reviewed more than 2500 House and Senate bills and identified approximately 100 for further review by the Public Affairs Committee. The PA committee met to prioritize the “watch list.” Bills marked as priorities have been closely followed with testimony submitted and/or presented on numerous bills relating to the PLDC and PLDC “offspring,” Complete Streets, Trails and Greenways Program Development, HCDA Rules, Landscaping of Iolani Palace, Wind Generation and Undersea Cable Development and many others.
Federal Judge Wallace Tashima ruled in late December that the City and County of Honolulu may continue constructing the controversial Honolulu Rail project, while fixing the flaws in its Environmental Impact Statement. The project still faces a major hurdle in fixing the shortfalls in its “Archeological Inventory Assessment” identified in a separate suit. The Rail Project proposes to construct a 20 mile above-ground mass transit system from Kaplolei to Ala Moana Shopping Center for $5.26 billion.
The Outdoor Circle is one of several plaintiffs that asked the Federal Court to stop the project on the grounds that the City’s Final Environmental Impact Statement is incomplete, flawed and failed to consider a number of factors required by Federal law. Most notably, the project will obstruct numerous mauka-makai view planes and degrade the public experience of parks and historic sites near the project.
“The Rail Project as proposed will forever alter the scenic beauty of O‘ahu and the quality of life in communities along the route,” said Executive Director Marti Townsend. “This suit is important to protect the people’s right to be informed of these impacts before they happen, which we can only get when the EIS process is done right.”
Judge Tashima did halt the fourth phase of the project, in the downtown area, until the city conducts additional studies to answer questions about a tunnel alternative and impacts on this historic Mother Waldron Park and cultural sites along the rail route.
The Outdoor Circle and the co-plaintiffs are appealing the district court ruling to the 9th Circuit.
Meanwhile, The Outdoor Circle has resumed tree consultations with the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transit—HART. The meetings, required by the Federal government to ensure the proper disposition of more than 1000 trees along the elevated rail line, were suspended by the City when TOC joined the lawsuit to stop the project in 2012.
In the first meeting since the suspension, TOC learned that HART intends to remove three mature Monkey Pod trees from the entry to Aiea’s Blaisdell Park in order to move Kamehameha Highway in the makai direction and make room for the huge concrete guideway. HART has asked TOC to recommend mitigation for this enormous loss to the park and the community.
Quick work by TOC staff nipped an island-wide illegal advertising campaign in the bud. Thanks to detailed reports from TOC members, Honolulu County officials ordered the illegal signs removed within days of their unveiling.
The campaign by Chevron Corporation and grocery giant Safeway resulted in the overnight blanketing of both companies’ O`ahu retail outlets with numerous banners and illegal signs advertising a rewards program.
“These large companies failed to educate themselves about our restrictive sign laws and the role they play in protecting the scenic beauty of our communities,” said Program Director Bob Loy. “The result was one of the more serious sign posting incidents I have ever seen.”
Upon receiving citizen complaints and making personal observations the TOC staff contacted company representatives and the county enforcement agency, the Department of Planning and Permitting. The County quickly dispatched inspectors who documented multiple illegally posted signs at nearly all O`ahu Safeway stores and Chevron stations. Within two days all of the signs were removed.
After destroying the parking lot trees at Lihue Airport in May 2012, the Hawai‘i Department of Transportation has committed to replace nearly 70 trees at the airport’s expense. According to eye-witness reports, Lihue Airport maintenance crews removed “nearly every branch” from the trees while providing no protection for themselves, passers-by, or the private vehicles around the trees.
Kauai Outdoor Circle president, Maureen Murphy and TOC member Jackie Ralya observed, documented, and reported the devastation. TOC notified state officials and the media. TOC’s investigation revealed that airport maintenance crews with no formal training in tree care were directed by airport officials to improperly prune the trees.
After months of TOC demands for accountability from DOT officials, a plan for replacement has been approved and DOT is taking steps to hire a contractor who will replace the destroyed trees. The project budget is $100,000 but its not known if that will be sufficient to replace all of the trees.
TOC plans to continue to watch over DOT’s efforts to ensure the beauty of the Lihue Airport is fully restored, for the benefit of Hawai`i residents and the hundreds of thousands of visitors that arrive at the airport each year.
The Maui Outdoor Circle (MOC) held its annual meeting May 4, where they featured the birds of Kanahā. MOC members were treated to a presentation by several expert birders familiar with the beauty, rare natural resources, and history of this special wetland near the Maui airport. Working with the Friends of Kanahā, MOC will be focusing on restoration and beautification projects to improve people’s appreciation of Kanahā. (Pictured to the left)
In addition, MOC joined other organizations in supporting protections for a rare dryland forest in South Maui. The Department of Land and Natural Resources is finalizing a Habitat Conservation Plan for multiple native species found in the rare dryland forest ecosystem of the southern lava flow of the Honua’ula project. (Pictured to the right)
The Draft Habitat Conservation Plan proposed by the Honua’ula landowners recommends that only 40 of the 170 acres recommended for critical habitat by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service be preserved. This would result in the loss of 100+ acres of native lowland dryland ecosystem.
MOC is concerned that the landowners’ plan will mean many magnificent native wiliwili trees and associated native plants will not be included in the proposed 40 acre preserve. It also is concerned that 35 additional acres of “conservation areas” proposed for native plants are small, fragmented areas, where the survival of native plants may be impacted by the chemicals, fertilizers and brackish water used for nearby golf courses or residential landscaping.
DLNR and the USFWS can force the landowners to protect 130-acres of the 170 acre critical habitat area as a natural, interconnected habitat preserve. Since this is where native plants are already choosing to grow, it is the most logical place to protect to ensure their survival.The Honua’ula lands, close to urban populations, are much more ideal to be used as “living classrooms” to pass on the love and care of the land to future generations. MOC hopes the decision will be in preserving this treasured forest in its entirety.
The City and County of Honolulu has approved a smoking ban at five of Oahu’s most popular beach parks. Bill 72 bans people from lighting up at Kapiolani Park and its surrounding areas, Kuhio Beach Park, Duke Kahanamoku Beach Park, the beach portion of Ala Moana Park and Sandy Beach Park. But a much broader smoking ban already is in the works.
The experts say cigarette butts constitute the most frequently removed items during beach cleanup projects, and of course, cigarette smokers are the source of that litter. So it was an easy decision for TOC to support Councilmember Stanley Chang’s no smoking bill as a way of preventing the degradation of our environment. In fact, TOC testified that the ban should cover all beaches and parks on O‘ahu.
But before the ink of the Mayor’s signature dried on the partial ban Councilmember Ikaika Anderson introduced a new measure to expand that ban islandwide. TOC has extended its support to the new proposal, which currently is making its way through the Council process.
More than 600 trees and palms are scheduled to be removed and forever lost from landscaped areas of Honolulu International Airport to make way for two huge building projects.
You’ve heard of the massive Washington D.C. building—The Pentagon? Get ready to meet Hawaii’s version—The Rentagon—a consolidated car rental facility that will offer one-stop shopping for travelers and a one-stop facility for all rental companies to store and maintain their vehicles.
“The gateway to paradise is about to lose its look of aloha,” said Outdoor Circle Program Director Bob Loy.
Its real name is the acronym CONRAC. At fives stories tall and covering 11 acres, it will be one of the largest structures ever built in Hawai‘i. Standing in the way of this behemoth are approximately 300 mature trees and palms that are slated for removal, including large Monkey Pods, Royal Poincianas and several palm varieties. The DOT says it will try to relocate about 15 of them, but the rest are headed for the mulch bin. And this is only half the story.
A second project to expand the Interisland Terminal will cause the additional removal of more than 370 trees and palms. The DOT says it will relocate approximately half of these trees to various DOT highway projects. The Mauka Concourse will take over the space currently occupied by the low-rise interisland terminal where “GO Airlines” and other small carriers operate, along with its tree-lined parking lot.
TOC will provide input on the landscaping plans for both buildings, but due to their enormous size and limited space, few new trees will be planted. Work on the projects is slated to begin this summer and end by 2017. In total, 671 trees will be removed, possibly 192 relocated and 146 new plantings of trees and palms. The net loss of trees and palms: 333.
“We fully understand that a world class destination needs a world class airport, but the current plans are going to make Honolulu International look like the typical sterile airports you see in faceless cities everywhere,” Loy said.
An annual tradition in the cool air of Kamuela was again renewed last December by the members of the Waimea Outdoor Circle who once again celebrated the holidays with the Waimea Twilight Christmas Parade.
In addition to spreading good cheer from one end of town to the other, the WOC purchases and gives away hundreds of tree seedlings. The tradition has been ongoing for many years. President Cheryl Langton says it is her goal as new WOC President to make the parade even bigger in coming years. Look for them this coming December marching through the streets of Waimea town.
To find out more: click this link to the newsletter for the Waimea branch.
Inmates at the Hawai`i Women’s Community Correctional Center (WCCC) and members of the Lani-Kailua Outdoor Circle (LKOC) have been sowing seeds of success. On Saturday, April 13, “success” came in the form of nearly $1,700 earned from selling ornamental plants raised by the WCCC/LKOC “Learning to Grow” program that teaches inmates the skill of gardening.
Started in 2008 by the LKOC, the program teaches inmates the skills of growing both edible and ornamental plants. A team of LKOC volunteer teachers and a volunteer consultant in hydroponics meet with the women six hours a week in the correctional center’s garden to teach various methods of backyard gardening to the very receptive students.
The April plant sale included bromeliads, hibiscus, areca palms, ferns and other plants, all
raised by the inmates and sold by LKOC volunteers. All of the money raised will be invested back into the program ensuring that future participants will have an opportunity to learn valuable skills as well as cooperation, responsibility, self-worth, and the joy of being in the garden.
The beauty of Moanalua Gardens took a hit in January when a mature Banyan tree was removed. The beautiful banyan was infested by a rare and deadly pest known as the Lobate Lac Scale. The scale began its attack on the tree in September 2012, but it was not immediately identified—and its true impacts determined—until after the first of the year.
The disease caused by this alien scale quickly devastated the banyan tree. By January the tree was 75% dead, forcing Gardens officials to make the difficult decision to remove the tree. Arborists across O`ahu are on the lookout for other trees infected by this scale. A few sickened trees have been identified so far, but none has suffered as extensively as this banyan.
Thankfully this disease-causing pest does not attack Monkey Pod trees. The Gardens’ Monkey Pods are the primary draw for local residents and tourists, who visit the park-like setting daily to enjoy the massive beauty of the trees. The Outdoor Circle was invited by Gardens officials to assist in alerting the public to the problem and helping spread the word that the Gardens’ iconic Monkey Pod trees were not threatened.
The Outdoor Circle and concerned residents fiercely opposed a proposal to construct a residential tower in Kaka‘ako that is 250 feet over the current height limit on buildings in the area. The 650-foot-tall project known as 690 Pohukaina was proposed by Governor Abercrombie as “the only way” developers would have the incentive to create large amounts of “workforce housing” in Honolulu.
In order to accomplish that goal the Governor proposed allowing the developer to exceed the 400 foot height limit. The added height would enable developers to include a significant number of expensive, “market-priced” units to offset the cheaper “workforce” units in the project. TOC testified that the project would be “an unwelcome, unnecessary infringement upon the view planes of hundreds of thousands of people.” TOC also noted that much needed workforce housing can be built in urban Honolulu without violating the law.
After strong testimony from TOC and many others, the two developers invited to submit proposals said that despite the Governor’s claims, they did not actually need the additional building height to turn a profit on the workforce housing project. Ultimately, the company “Forest City Enterprises” was selected to develop the project. It has yet to submit final plans, but they are expected to include building heights that comply with the current Kaka‘ako height limits.
The Outdoor Circle, together with the Lani-Kailua Branch, has asked the City and County of Honolulu to stop a zoning change that would allow for the expansion of the Kapa`a Industrial Park in Kailua.
The land currently is zoned Preservation and by policy, TOC opposes conversion of protected lands for other uses. In addition, TOC has serious concerns whether the County has gathered all the facts necessary to fully evaluate the potential impacts of businesses in the proposed industrial park expansion, particularly on Kawainui Marsh.
TOC has a strong interest in protecting Kawainui Marsh from harm. Thanks to the work of the Lani-Kailua Outdoor Circle, hundreds of members and volunteers have invested countless hours with many other organizations over the years to restore this fragile ecosystem — the largest wetland in Hawai‘i. Expansion of the industrial footprint in this area is completely unacceptable.
Preserving the visual integrity of Kapi‘olani Park is a primary concern of The Outdoor Circle as government officials and stakeholders begin honing-in on a plan for the future of the historic Waikiki Natatorium. Program Director Bob Loy recently participated in a panel discussion at the Hawai‘i chapter of the American Institute of Architects about what to do with the controversial war memorial. He told the audience that TOC is focusing its efforts on preserving the trees and open spaces in that portion of Kapi‘olani Park, regardless of the final Natatorium plans.
While TOC has not taken an official position on the final project, TOC leaders were pleased to learned that the Governor has dropped his earlier proposal to transform the iconic facility into a venue for competitive beach volleyball tournaments. Such activity would do more to threaten the ambience of the park than any of the proposals that involve swimming in the old pool or creating a new public beach.
“Kapiolani Park does not need the big crowds, bright lights, multiple signs and all the trappings that would accompany the more commercial type use of the Natatorium that the Governor had envisioned,” said Loy.
On April 30 the State and City jointly announced that the City would oversee a project to remove the Natatatorium pool and stadium and create a memorial sandy beach for public use. The iconic archway will be preserved at the site.
TOC is consulting with the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center on the renovation of the popular “Royal Grove,” a hula mound and gathering place for a variety of events in the heart of Waikiki.
The project includes removing the hula mound, expanding the sidewalk areas and installing two water features separated by a bridge-like walkway. A new multi-purpose stage will be created at the base of the Center’s Banyan tree to enhance daily entertainment and cultural programming.
Of concern to TOC is the safety of 14 large coconut trees from the hula mound. The trees have been removed and placed in a safe, off-site area and will be returned and replanted once the project is completed.
The Outdoor Circle has consulted with the sponsors of an exciting new attraction at the Honolulu Zoo. The Children’s Discovery Forest is a project of the Hawai`i Forest Institute, Hawaii Forest Industry Association and the Zoo.
The walk-through exhibit will feature native plants and display the beauty of native Hawaiian landscapes. Designers will recreate Hawaiian dryland and mesic forests using native plants and trees and will feature a Polynesian section containing culturally significant species. TOC helped planners with their initial scoping of the site which included identifying trees for removal and replacement as well as contributing ideas for the overall design.
Mahalo to our many and very generous donors. Thank you for making the work of The Outdoor Circle possible. Click here for more.
The Outdoor Circle’s 2013 Annual Meeting was be held on May 30th at the Mandalay Restaurant in Honolulu. This year we ratified revisions to our Bylaws and restated our Articles of Incorporation (formerly called the “Charter of Incorporation”), as well as elected next year’s Board of Directors for the organization.
The revisions to our bylaws are the culmination of a year-long organizational assessment and strategic planning process undertaken with financial support from Hawaii Community Foundation and expert support from the MBA students from the Chaminade University of Honolulu, Linda Colburn (Where Talk Works, Inc.), Carl Williams (CW Associates), and Brian Esuka (npolaw.org). In this process, we surveyed our members (both current and lapsed), branch leaders, Board members, and leaders from peer organizations. We reviewed our financial position, researched organizations similar to The Outdoor Circle, and assessed our own success over the last 100 years. After two formal strategic planning meetings and several committee meetings, the Board of Directors approved the 2013 Strategic Plan in January. Our collective goal is to work together as “One Circle” to streamline operations and strengthen the branches so that they can implement the projects that keep Hawai‘i clean, green, and beautiful. Click here to download TOC’s 2013 Strategic Plan.
The Board formed the Bylaws and Policies Committee to review and revised our bylaws to reflect the strategic direction of the organization. The bylaws were revised over the course of 4 Committee meetings, 5 branch board meetings, 2 central board meetings, and consultations with experts in accounting, finance, and local non-profit law. The result was the amended bylaws and restated Articles of Incorporation, which were ratified by the membership.
Governing Documents Ratified by Members on May 30, 2013:
Below are highlights of the changes in the bylaws. Ratifying these changes will bring our bylaws into compliance, significantly improve the operation of our organization, and implement a major component of our 2013 strategic plan. If you have any questions or concerns, please call the Honolulu office at 808-593-0300.
Many important details regarding how the general provisions of the bylaws will be implemented at the branch level need to be handled with new policies. The Bylaws and Policies Committee will begin working to develop a new policy manual for our organization. Members are invited to participate in the development of TOC’s policy manual over the next few months. Please contact your branch president or the central office to make arrangements.
What are bylaws? How are they different from policies?
The bylaws are the basic laws of the organization that empower the Board and the staff and the membership to act. Bylaws are typically general in language, setting the floor for the basic allowable actions. They are updated infrequently, and issued with the approval of the broadest constituency of the organization — for a membership organization such as ours that means the bylaws must be approved by the members. Policies are the very specific rules that direct how the general principles of the bylaws are implemented. Policies are updated more frequently and need only basic Board approval.
The example typically given is the bylaws authorize the Board to hire a staff person, while the policies outline how that staff person is managed (chain of command, number of vacation days, health insurance coverage, etc).
The finances of an organization do not necessarily have to be in the bylaws; it is not a requirement. Indeed, as it is right now, our bylaws do not spell out where the money goes in our organization.
But since streamlining our operations involves changes to some of our longstanding practices, it is more appropriate to state in general terms in the bylaws to how things will be changing in the future.
Significant change 1: Language streamlined and clarified
The purpose statement, position and committee descriptions, rights of members, liability of board members and other language has been simplified and updated to be consistent with current practices and legal requirements.
The overall format of the bylaws has changed to be more consistent with bylaws issued today. The laws governing non-profit organizations have become more strict over the years. There are many things the organization must state in its bylaws to be compliant with these new requirements. For example, as a membership organization, TOC has an obligation to serve its members. The bylaws outline how the rights and expectations of members will be met, as is required by state and federal law.
In addition, the styles and culture around governing documents for organizations has also evolved. For example, previous versions of our bylaws included a list of the kinds of activities that TOC undertakes in an effort to keep Hawai‘i clean, green, and beautiful. While this list continues to be a source of great inspiration for members and provides direction for the organization, it is more appropriately found in our mission and vision statements than our bylaws. The use of bylaws and mission statements has evolved over the years to where now bylaws are solely the rules by which organization is governed, and the mission/vision statements are the guiding stars of the organization in deciding which activities to undertake and which to pass by.
Significant change 2: Centralized banking and bookkeeping
The bylaws authorize the centralization of branch bank accounts. In addition, for those branches that wish to maintain their own bank records, the bylaws authorize branches to develop a separate agreement with the central organization to continue to maintain their own bank accounts. Branches are still authorized to raise and expend funds as they deem fit, but are not obligated to maintain their own bookkeeping.
Centralizing the bookkeeping will streamline our operations, reduce the stress on volunteer treasurers, and help us compete for grant-funding. TOC’s administrative expenses are significantly higher than most other similar organizations in Hawai‘i and in the US. This is the result of increasingly complex requirements from state and federal agencies, which drive-up the cost of tracking our bank records across our many branches. These increasing demands have also been a significant source of stress for our members that volunteer their time to maintain bank records for our branches.
To reduce costs and stress, the bylaws authorize the centralization of branch bank accounts. All branch monies that are maintained by the central office will be kept in separate funds for each branch so as to ensure branch funds stay with each branch. Branches would still fundraise for their projects and decide how branch funds are spent. Methods of ensuring branches have easy access to their funds, without the headache of bookkeeping, will be worked out in collaboration with the branches and documented in the policies we adopt before October 1st.
For branches that opt not to centralize their banking and bookkeeping, a separate system for ensuring compliance and minimized expense will be worked out in collaboration with the central office, also before October 1st.
To be clear, the money that branches have now in their bank accounts is their money and must be used in their regions. This is because there is an implied restriction on all branch funds that directs it to be spent in the geographic area where it was donated. The rules governing donated money would prohibit the shifting of funds from one branch to another; bylaws revisions cannot undo those restrictions. Branch leaders can trust that their money is their money and it will be kept that way forever.
Significant Change 3: Membership Dues
All dues will accrue to the central organization to pay for overhead expenses. Branches can replace the income from dues with restricted funds currently held by the central office for tree planting and preservation, education and outreach, and other related program activities. Currently, there is twice as much money available in these restricted funds than are collected in dues throughout the whole organization. That means, with this change, branches can spend significantly more on projects than they currently collect in dues.
The bylaws authorize the central office to collect all membership dues. The intent is for the dues to be used to cover the overhead expenses of the organization, in the same way most other membership organizations use membership dues. This re-alignment of administrative income and expense provides a natural limitation on administrative expenditures, while vesting the central organization’s interest in cultivating new members.
Recognizing that branches have relied on membership dues to implement projects, the central organization commits to funding branch projects through an internal grant-making process. The central organization has a healthy reserve of restricted funds for tree planting and preservation, as well as education and outreach, which the branches can use to implement projects, in place of the dues that will go to the central organization. These restricted funds are for activities that the branches have demonstrated they do quite well — like plant trees and educate kids. Currently, there is twice as much money available in these restricted funds than are collected in dues throughout the whole organization. That means, with this change, all 9 branches could spend double the amount they currently have in dues on planting and education and we would still have money left over in these restricted funds. The internal grant-making procedure needs to be developed, but it will provide a fair and transparent (and relatively quick) way of pushing these funds out to the branches to be spent.
Significant change 4: Board composition
Composition of the Board: The number of board members, term limits, and position descriptions have been changed. Branches will be represented by an officer on the Board, instead of branch presidents to minimize the burden on presidents.
Branch presidents will no longer be mandated to serve on the Board of Directors for the organization. Instead, there will be a branch representative elected by membership, whose specific job it will be to liaise between the central organization and the branches. In addition, future nominations to the central Board will follow a matrix to be developed in our policies that strives for balanced representation of the organization on the Board.
The organizational assessment we conducted in the Fall concluded that having the Branch presidents on the Board did not improve branch participation in the management of the organization, instead it simply added to the burdens expected of already overburdened presidents.
To ensure a strong connection between the branches and the central organization, we created a branch representative position on the executive committee of the board. The description of this position is to serve as the liaison between the central organization and the branches — the person in this position must meet regularly with branch leaders and bring concerns to the board or they will be asked to leave the board. This is a key position that people have acknowledged is important but has never been fully implemented. It will be up to all of us to ensure that this position is given the support needed to be successful.
The expectation is the Branch Representative will hold quarterly branch meetings where issues and concerns can be raised and discussed. The branch representative is to bring those concerns to the Board for resolution. In addition, all members are welcome to sit in on Board meetings and request time on the Board’s agenda.
In addition, descriptions of all officer positions on the board are clarified to make it easier for individuals to meet the expectations of service in those positions.
Lastly, term limits have been added to include positions, as well as individuals, on the Board. This is done to encourage a healthy succession of board members over the years. All Board members may serve on the Board for six consecutive years; members may serve as an officer for three consecutive years. Individuals may return to the Board after taking one year off. Chairing a special committee does not qualify as Board membership and thus is not counted in the six-year term limit.
Because of you , our supporters, TOC has an impressive list of achievements to show for the past 100 years of work. From banning unsightly billboards to protecting Exceptional Trees, and everything in between, Hawai‘i’s oldest, locally grown advocacy group has accomplished a lot to improve and enhance our unique ‘aina, such as:
This centennial year we planted trees, gave away and sold countless plants, educated our students about stewarding their environment, and saved important, mature trees from unnecessary removal. Next year in many ways will be no different. TOC will always work to keep Hawai`i clean, green and beautiful. We will be ever-vigilant over the Public Lands Development Corporation, advocate for tree planting and preservation, and will enforce the sign laws.
But in other ways, 2013 marks a new start for TOC. We are streamlining operations, strengthening connections between our islands, and proactively engaging decision-makers impacting the quality of our lives. To enhance our programs, we will reinvigorate our 10-branch network across the islands and expand our partnerships with others seeking complementary goals to protect and preserve what we all love about Hawai‘i.
Please join us in this noble cause. It’s not too late to make a year end gift. To learn more about ways to give, please explore our “support us” page by clicking here. You can support us right now by making a secure, tax-deductible donation through PayPal on this website, mailing a check or calling 808-593-0300.
Mahalo nui loa! And from all of us at The Outdoor Circle may the coming weeks bring you peace and joy!
The Outdoor Circle chose Waipahu High School for its Arbor Day celebration. Three trees were planted on the campus. Mahalo to the students, teachers, and faculty of Waipahu High School.
Sunday, November 3rd at the Kauai Outdoor Circle
All day Tree Giveaway at Kukui Grove. In partnership with Kauai Landscape Industry Council and the Kauai Invasive Species Committee, and many other educational organizations. Over 2,000 trees will be given away along with a bag of compost for each tree. Lots of educational booths, informative talks, and fun for all. Mahalo to Kaulunani Urban Forestry Grant Program for their support.
As The Outdoor Circle continues to celebrate its centennial, click here to read The Star Advertiser’s feature titled, “A Century of Growth”. If you would like to support TOC for the next 100 years, please don’t hesitate to call us at 593-0300.
New call in numbers same sign laws…help keep illegal signage out of your neighborhood. Click here to download brochure.
Click here to view our latest rail efforts.
2012 is a year to celebrate at The Outdoor Circle! This year marks 100 years of “keeping Hawai`i clean, green, and beautiful” and it shows. This year’s annual meeting was amazing!! We were surrounded by giant trees, the majestic Ko`olaus, and many familiar smiling faces. Mahalo to everyone who came out to celebrate with us. Click here to see pictures from the event. A special mahalo to Princess K Fashions for the fashion show of Hawaiian dress through the ages and to Kualoa Ranch for the boat tour of Moli`i Fishpond.
At its 2012 annual meeting, the statewide membership of The Outdoor Circle elected the following members as officers for the following year:
President: Joel Kurokawa
1st V.P.: Steve Mechler
2nd V.P.: Maureen Murphy
3rd V.P.: Diane Anderson
4th V.P.: Betsy Connors
Treasurer: Heather Allen Shank
Asst. Treasurer: Diane Harding
Secretary: Teresa Trueman-Madriaga
Advisor: Alexandra Avery
Advisor: Jo Ann Best
Advisor: Paula Ress
Congratulations to the new Board of Directors!!
The 2012 Legislative session has turned into a slugfest pitting lawmakers who want to water down or even eliminate environmental review for many types of construction projects against people and organizations who believe the laws protect Hawaii’s most precious assets.
Most of the proposals are promoted as being necessary to streamline the approval processes for construction projects and thereby move construction projects forward and stimulate the economy. Opponents argue that it is possible to streamline the approval processes without eliminating the laws that prevent the degradation of Hawaii’s natural resources and sensitive coastal environment.
“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to determine that special interests have persuaded certain lawmakers that the best time to roll back the laws that protect our fragile environment is when the economy is down,” said TOC Director of Environmental Programs Bob Loy. “We believe that if these important laws are suspended or eliminated more than 30 years of thoughtful environmental protection will go down the drain—benefiting a few at the expense of many.”
The assault on Hawaii’s environment has encouraged the state’s environmental community to come together as never before to present a solid front of opposition. TOC along with such groups as the Sierra Club, Hawaii’s Thousand Friends, Life of the Land and the Surfrider Foundation, along with scores of concerned Hawai‘i citizens, have been packing hearing rooms and delivering forceful testimony. The message—these proposals eliminate the balance necessary to maintain a clean environment while allowing beneficial projects to be approved.
The July issue of Greenleaf will include an assessment of which laws passed and how they might impact our islands. Sign up here to get your copy of the Greenleaf.
Longtime environmental advocate and community organizer Martha Townsend has been chosen to lead The Outdoor Circle, considered Hawai‘i’s oldest environmental organization. She will oversee operations for 10 branches across all counties of Hawai‘i.
“Marti was selected from a large group of applicants,” said Joel Kurokawa, President of the Board of Directors. “Her legal background and unique skills make her the perfect choice to lead our organization into its next 100 years.”
Best known for its work to prohibit billboards in the islands, The Outdoor Circle is focused on perpetuating trees and open space. It works to protect the islands from inappropriate advertising and signage and preserving view planes.
The Board of Directors made its selection from a search performed by Bishop & Company.
Townsend is a graduate of the William S. Richardson School of Law, where she specialized in environmental law. The Honolulu attorney was formerly acting Executive Director at KAHEA: The Hawaiian Environmental Alliance, a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting Hawai‘i’s natural and cultural resources.
House of Representatives Tree Planting March 20, 2012
The Outdoor Circle along with Representative Mark Takai and Chris Lee planted an Ohia Lehua tree on the grounds of the State Capitol in honor of the 100th Anniversary of The Outdoor Circle.
Pictured from left to right Representative Mark Takai, TOC President Joel Kurokawa, Director of Environmental Programs Bob Loy, and Representative Chris Lee
The Outdoor Circle’s mission since 1912 has been to keep Hawaii clean, green and beautiful. Our Islands are free of billboards and have a wonderful urban forest due in large measure to the dedication and hard work of our members who are deeply committed to protecting and enhancing one of the most beautiful places on earth.
In our 100 year history The Outdoor Circle (TOC) has seen no other venture that holds the potential to degrade the landscape of Oahu as the proposed Honolulu Rail Transit project. TOC has been involved in virtually every step of the project from the moment it was first brought to the public for discussion. For more than five years, at every opportunity, we have urged the City to explain how it will mitigate Transit’s horrific visual damage to this island as well as the degradation to neighborhoods and communities along the route of this six billion dollar project.
The Outdoor Circle favors and will support an alternatively sound transit proposal but only one that includes elements that will reduce traffic and protect Hawaii’s greatest asset, the unique and incomparable beauty of our islands. But with no satisfactory alternatives forthcoming The Outdoor Circle has concluded that it cannot and does not support the project as proposed and we now are exploring all available options to determine the most feasible and effective actions we might take to stop it.
Of great concern to TOC is the visual damage caused by Transit. The City acknowledges that the damage will occur but has determined that the blight the project creates is the price our residents and visitors must pay for “progress.” Imagine the cumulative visual impact of more than 20 miles of a massive elevated concrete guideway, supported by 720 large concrete columns with the inevitable graffiti and enormous transit stations. The project is destined to become an ugly scar across one of the most beautiful places on earth while there is little evidence that it will bring relief to Oahu’s unacceptable traffic situation.
We also are distressed that the proposed project requires the removal of nearly 900 trees. TOC is consulting with the City’s Transit team to make certain that relocated trees are properly handled and that contractors pay for those that are not. Hundreds of trees already have been or will soon be removed and destroyed. But given that the Federal government has not yet guaranteed that it will fund the project we strongly question whether the tree removals and other preparatory work should continue.A group of individuals and Hawaii grassroots organizations has filed a lawsuit to stop this project. TOC supports the lawsuit and believes it is necessary because the City’s Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) failed to conform to the National Environmental Policy Act and did not adequately evaluate less intrusive “alternatives.” Examples of alternatives include an expanded flexible bus system, staggered work hours, creative transportation options for thousands of students, private jitney services or possibly an at grade rail system.
In addition, the FEIS fails to adequately explain how the City will mitigate the damage the project will inflict on O‘ahu view planes. Instead the city explains in the FEIS that the visual intrusiveness will be mitigated by community sensitive architectural designs and then softened by a variety of landscaping schemes, tree plantings, etc. The City has offered no details about these efforts, instead stating that the details of this work will be developed in concert with the communities as the project moves forward. But TOC’s position is that these details should have been proposed and vetted before the completion of the FEIS. And why didn’t that happen? The Outdoor Circle believes the answer is that no level of design or landscape can erase the physical, visual barricade being created to mauka-makai views for the entire length of the project. In this regard the FEIS fails to offer relief of any kind.
The Outdoor Circle now is considering how we might best support the broad based coalition of organizations and individuals which is challenging this project in court. We also encourage others to support the lawsuit. We are hopeful that through our combined efforts we can convince the courts to put the brakes on the current Transit project and force the City to offer real alternatives and real mitigation that will bring true relief to Honolulu’s traffic madness without pillaging the beauty of the place we call home.
Read more about TOC’s history on transit by clicking here.
The Outdoor Circle (TOC) strongly supports Resolution 11-111 which calls for greater accountability on the part of the City’s Rapid Transit Division regarding the disposition of trees affected by the transit project. Read The Outdoor Circle’s latest efforts in keeping Hawaii clean, green, and beautiful.
The City’s official comments about trees and TOC’s responses and reality:
From Street Trees Technical Report for Draft Environmental Impact Statement
Of the 889 removed trees, 517 could be transplanted. The tree’s maturity, condition, and location plus the economic feasibility were the main criteria considered in analyzing possible transplantation.
From The Outdoor Circle’s Comments on the DEIS Dated February 6, 2009
And DTS’s Response Dated June 11, 2010 (in italics)
Honolulu has fostered a worldwide image of being a city full of beautiful trees. It is an important part of Honolulu’s appeal to both residents and visitors. But the system’s chosen alignment will result in the removal of more than 800 street trees. About one-half to two-thirds of those trees will be transplanted to unspecified “appropriate areas,” but that leaves a possible deficit of more than 300 trees with no mitigation to the environment for the tree removals.
Tree removals will be minimized to the greatest extent possible, but pruning is likely next to the guideway. Twenty-eight “Notable” true kamani trees along Dillingham Boulevard will be removed. Approximately 100 street trees will be pruned, 550 will be removed, and 300 will be transplanted. Mitigation measures will consist of transplanting existing trees or planting new ones.
Further, The Outdoor Circle knows how difficult it is to find available tree planting sites in our city. We believe the EIS must provide specific sites for tree relocations now. The language in the draft document is too vague. Please address this issue.
Trees suitable for transplanting that are displaced by construction will be relocated to the City project nursery until they can be transplanted to another part of the project area.
The city nursery is located adjacent to Kapiolani Park. TOC was told recently that they do not have the facilities to maintain the large number of trees committed to in the FEIS.
City’s Obligation under FEIS
Section 4.15.1 states that coordination with Outdoor Circle was initiated at the start of the NEPA process and that coordination will be ongoing as the project progresses.
The Outdoor Circle had to initiate consultation with the city and coordination (so far) has been only at the organization’s instigation. TOC was told recently that DTS requires 92F requests (Hawaii equivalent of Freedom of Information Act requests) each time it wants to view documents. This makes the process extremely time consuming, cumbersome and not transparent.)
Bob Loy, Director of Environmental Programs
As the 2010 Honolulu mayoral election nears we are committed to providing our members and supporters with information that will help them assess the leading candidates’ positions on issues of concern to The Outdoor Circle (TOC). To accomplish our goal we created a brief questionnaire which we asked each of the four candidates to complete and return to TOC. We also requested meetings with each candidate to discuss the questionnaire and their responses. The candidates asked to participate in this project are Kirk Caldwell, Peter Carlisle, Panos Prevedouros and Rod Tam. All except Rod Tam completed the questionnaire. We met individually with all four candidates.
To assist in preparing their responses we included background information about TOC and our interactions with relevant Honolulu County agencies. The information gathered in this project has been collated and is being presented at http://www.outdoorcircle.org, via email to our supporters and by releasing the results to the media.
Click here to read the results.
Bob Loy, Director of Environmental Programs
During previous elections The Outdoor Circle mailed letters to all candidates for political office to educate them on how to comply with Hawaii’s campaign sign laws. We also asked candidates to protect the visual beauty of our neighborhoods by following a few common sense guidelines. But not this year. Look around our islands and you will quickly realize that sending the letter would be like closing the door after the horse has bolted from the barn. From Hanapepe to Ka‘u the islands of aloha already are awash with campaign signs and the worst is yet to come.
Campaign signs were once a reliable representation of a candidate’s strength. A campaign sign in a family’s yard was a proud statement of their support. But today campaign signs are less about voter endorsements and more about candidates boasting about themselves. Their message: the candidate with the most and biggest signs is the best qualified for the job.
But as campaign signs block the view planes at busy intersections and line the fences of major roadways the magnificence of the islands and the appeal of our communities becomes obscured and compromised. Some argue that it’s a small price to pay every couple of years. Usually it’s the candidates who make this argument.
The truth is that this year campaign banners—many as large as mainland billboards—began appearing in February. By March campaign sign fever was in full swing. That means we are subjected to at least 6-plus months of signs for elections that occur every two years. In other words, our home, arguably the most beautiful place on earth, is cluttered with political campaign signs 25 percent of the time.
And just when you thought it couldn’t get worse, it has. This is the year when you really get to know your candidates. Not from substantive discussions or forums….but in your face at 45 mph as you round the curve in Aina Haina or cruise Farrington Highway in Waipahu and are greeted by giant photographs of grinning politicians on banners flapping in the breeze. Hands down there are more larger-than-life photographs of faces on campaign banners in 2010 than any other year in memory.
Many of these huge banners are attached to PVC frames that serve as billboards—in the leading anti-billboard state in the entire country. In the newest twist at least one candidate has created vertical billboard banners. The first one I saw was sitting atop a sign for another candidate. The total visual package reached at least 10 feet high on the utility pole to which it was illegally attached.
So how can we protect Hawai‘i from becoming a campaign sign casualty while allowing candidates their right to identify themselves and supporters their right to reasonably display their support? Federal court rulings have held that this balance is possible by carefully crafting laws that impose sensible restrictions yet still allow voices to be heard. The Outdoor Circle has tried for several consecutive legislative sessions to convince lawmakers to respond to the challenge.
While some candidates respect their communities and refrain from posting excessive campaign signs, we have learned that it is counterintuitive for most elected officials to limit their political advertising. Inside the State Capitol the conversations quickly turn from what’s best for their communities to what’s best for them. “My opponent will kill me with a million signs,” said one long time Representative. “I’ve got a garage full of them—they aren’t cheap,” lamented another. And my personal favorite: “A lot of businesses depend on our campaigns…signs are good for the economy.” How can we fight this type of logic?
Unfortunately the campaign sign landscape isn’t likely to change in the near future. Honolulu Councilmember Ikaika Anderson has introduced a resolution to limit campaign signs but it has a long way to go before becoming law. In the meantime there is still time for candidates to show respect for the beauty of our islands and the sanctity of our neighborhoods:
• Limit the number of signs on any one property. 20 signs are no more effective than two.
• Limit the posting of huge banners, with or without photos. Use them at rallies and sign waving events instead.
• Prohibit campaign signs from being posted on public property or utility poles. That’s already illegal.
• Refrain from excessive advertising until 45 days before the election.
• Remove all signs within 10 days after the election
Finally, The Outdoor Circle encourages all voters to hold candidates accountable for their own actions and the behavior of their campaigns. If you see signs posted on public property including parks, medians or on the highway rights-of-way call the candidates or call The Outdoor Circle. We’ll make sure they clean up their act. But perhaps more important, let the candidates know that you’ll be casting your vote—not for the person who has the most signs or the biggest banners, but for the candidate who best demonstrates the ability to make Hawai‘i a better place.
From the day the City announced its plan for an above ground fixed guide way transit system, The Outdoor Circle (TOC) has been under pressure from its members and the community to take a position on the project. But our Board of Directors insisted that we participate in the process so that we could form an opinion based on facts and not just a knee-jerk reaction.
In the ensuing three-plus years we have participated in scoping efforts, public presentations, meetings with consultants, briefings from project opponents, membership on the Mayor’s Transit Advisory Committee, and public hearings. We have studied the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) and the exhaustive technical reports where the nitty-gritty of the project is revealed.
In the end we are left with the conclusion that in its nearly 100 year history, The Outdoor Circle has seen no other proposal that holds the potential to degrade the landscape of O‘ahu and change the character of our communities as greatly as the Honolulu transit project. We believe it is destined to become the most visually disruptive project in the history of Hawai‘i. While its ability to ease traffic problems on O‘ahu is debatable, its negative impact on the visual environment of this island cannot be denied.
To our disappointment the DEIS fails to adequately describe the cumulative impacts of the project or how those impacts will be mitigated with respect to view planes, street trees, landscaping, utility lines and overall intrusiveness in our communities.
The document states that from the Ewa Plain through Pearl City and the airport region the fixed guide way and multiple above ground stations will intrude upon the undeveloped character of open space, block views of parks and historic sites and become the dominant feature in the view planes of every community. Once it reaches Chinatown it will disrupt the character of the pedestrian oriented environment.
In the central business district, the fixed guide way and the proposed Downtown Station will block makai views, become the dominant features on Nimitz Highway and spoil the pedestrian character of the streetscape. From downtown to Ala Moana Center the project will intrude upon homes and offices and block protected mauka-makai views of the Ko‘olau and Waianae Mountains; the ocean and Honolulu Harbor and Diamond Head, Punchbowl and Aliamanu craters.
Of equal concern is the fate of more than 800 street trees. Perhaps 500 trees will be transplanted to unspecified areas leaving a possible deficit of more than 300 trees. The DEIS states that to mitigate the damage a contractor “would” prepare new planting plans and that additional trees “could” be planted. We believe the public needs an accurate accounting of what will happen to these trees.
Of great distress is the proposal to eliminate “notable” trees—19 Kamani Trees on Dillingham Boulevard and 23 Monkey pod Trees on Kapiolani Boulevard near University Avenue. There are no plans included to protect trees adjacent to the construction. This could result in predictable damage and the potential loss of hundreds of additional trees.
The DEIS does not explain how the city will mitigate the harsh presence of hundreds of support columns and more than two dozen transit stations. The DEIS also is silent regarding commercial signage in, around or on any part of the project—including all transit oriented development. Such signage might violate existing state and/or county sign laws. The DEIS should forbid any exterior commercial advertising on the train, transit stations or any portion of the transit infrastructure.
This project also offers an opportunity to remove a persistent eyesore from our communities—the overbearing presence of utility poles and lines. Relocating all utility lines along the transit route and placing them underground or beneath the fixed guide way will enhance the view planes and provide mitigation for the visual damage created by the project. The combined visual burden of the fixed guide way in addition to the overhead utility lines is completely unacceptable and has not been evaluated in the document.
In conclusion, the Board of Directors of The Outdoor Circle believes the City has substantially downplayed the visual impacts the project will have on our communities and on our quality of life. Nor does it offer acceptable mitigation throughout the DEIS for the harm this project will inflict.
We believe the final EIS must acknowledge the mountain of negative impacts that will be caused by the project and present effective mitigation plans. If this is not done we believe the City should abandon the above ground fixed guide way and replace it with an alternative system that will not be as destructive and divisive as the current proposal.
In my fifteen plus years with The Outdoor Circle I have never experienced what happened to House Bill 1832 Relating to Outdoor Advertising. The bill, introduced at the urging of The Outdoor Circle, was written to limit the posting of political signs on residential properties by restricting the size and number of signs allowed.
We were excited when the bill passed Conference Committee and was scheduled for a full vote by both the House and Senate on Tuesday April 27. Both statewide newspapers, the Advertiser and Star Bulletin, supported the bill and ran editorials strongly in favor of controlling campaign signs.
At what was scheduled to be the Senate’s final floor vote, HB 1832 CD1 was passed 18-6. The legislators then recessed, caucused amongst themselves, went back into session, and voted again. Instead of passing HB 1832 they voted to send the bill back to committee, thus killing it. Later in the day the House members followed suit.
Hundreds of hours were spent working with our elected officials to make sure they understood the legislation. Sadly, our legislators decided to put their own self interests ahead of the beauty of these islands. We continue to discuss the best way to proceed. One way you can help if you feel as strongly as we do is by writing a letter to the editors of both papers stating your support for limiting campaign signs and showing disgust at how the bill was killed.
Needless to say we’re very disappointed. If you have any insights or thoughts as to how we should proceed please use this forum to let us know.
HB 1832 can be found at: http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2008/bills/HB1832_CD1_.htm
The section of the article in the Advertiser pertaining to HB 1832 reads as follows:
“Lawmakers in both chambers voted to shelve a bill that would have restricted political campaign signs on residential property to 4-by-2 feet and a total of 16 square feet for all signs. The bill was important to The Outdoor Circle and cleared a House and Senate conference committee last week. But support for the bill fell apart in private caucus.
The Senate at first voted to pass the bill yesterday but then reconsidered. State Senate Majority Leader Gary Hooser, D-7th (Kaua’i, Ni’ihau), explained that the bill would have applied to other signs, such as advertisements for chicken sales or fan support for University of Hawai’i sports, and would have interfered with county home rule.
Hooser made a personal commitment to work with Outdoor Circle and others before next session on a new draft.”
The Honolulu High Capacity Transit Corridor Project is one of the most important public projects in O‘ahu history. As proposed, it also will be a visible fixture on O‘ahu’s landscape. The train’s fixed guideway will rise from about 20 feet above grade to a maximum of about 80 feet as it traverses the 20 mile route from East Kapolei to Ala Moana Center. The project also will include 19 transit stations and accompanying commercial development.
The City estimates the cost of the current proposal at approximately $3.8 billion—$5 to $6 billion if the route is extended to the University of Hawaii and Waikiki. Others claim the costs will be one-third higher. A great debate is being waged in Honolulu and within The Outdoor Circle over the monetary and aesthetic costs of the project versus its potential benefits.
For more than two years TOC has attended public meetings and hearings, become involved in the Mayor’s Transit Advisory Committee and carefully observed the community reaction to the transit proposal. We received multiple briefings from the City’s transit contractors as well as from opponents of the City’s transit plans. And we have extensively toured the likely transit route.
The following resolution was adopted by The Outdoor Circle’s Board of Directors:
Whereas, The Outdoor Circle recognizes the benefits of public transportation, and
Whereas, The Outdoor Circle has concerns about the currently proposed transit fixed guide way system, and
Whereas, The Outdoor Circle considers it essential that protecting the visual environment to be a priority in the planning, construction and operation of any transit system,
Now, therefore, be it resolved that the Board of Directors of The Outdoor Circle urges the City and County of Honolulu to adopt policies and practices to ensure a clean, green and beautiful island of O‘ahu.
A Statement Supporting Transit
By Kathy Whitmire, Board Advisor, TOC
Honolulu’s traffic congestion speaks for itself! We must move forward now with the creation of a new transit system.
The City chose a fixed guideway system because it has greater passenger capacity, lower operating costs and results in less traffic congestion than any alternative. Transit oriented development will help stem urban sprawl across Oahu’s agricultural and open lands, encourage the development of livable, walkable communities around transit stations and increase transit ridership.
Honolulu’s transit plan includes protection of view corridors and street trees and a design that embodies Hawaii’s rich cultural heritage. TOC must take an active part in the planning and design phase to ensure that these principles are followed and that scenic beauty is not sacrificed but enhanced. We must also make sure that
• there is no relaxation of Oahu’s strong sign control regulations
• transit-oriented developments include open space such as pocket parks and plazas
• utility lines are placed underground as part of the project
• landscaping is well designed and maintained throughout the system.
With strong participation by TOC, Honolulu can have a transit system that enhances the visual environment while conserving energy, reducing air pollution and avoiding the need for more highways.
A Statement Opposing Transit
By Jane Morris, Public Affairs Co-Chair, Lani-Kailua Outdoor Circle
I favor transit that allows more mobility for our citizens, reduces traffic congestion and is cost efficient. The City’s proposal will not meet these tests. Nor will it meet the goals that guide The Outdoor Circle:
We must maintain our communities and protect our view planes. Our parks and roadways are overgrown with weeds. Will there be money to clean these and other eyesores after we pay for Transit? The City says $1.2 Billion will be Federal money. The Feds say only $500 Million. The City increased the excise tax but will Transit costs cause city maintenance and other programs such as recycling to slide even further?
How many of our beautiful, mature trees will be removed to construct the elevated guideway? Will this plan use less fossil fuel, show a net energy saving and be less polluting than the alternatives?
The elevated train and its 19 huge transit stations will be an ever-present eyesore as it snakes through communities; skirts along the waterfront; plows through downtown, Kakaako, Moiliili and ultimately over the H-1 freeway to the University.
The Outdoor Circle must protect Honolulu from the visual blight and the many unintended consequences of Transit.
Help shape public opinion. Tell us what you think by posting your opinion to this blog.
Seventeen of 30 Monkeypod trees were removed in Koloa town on Kauai. After months of community protests and vigils aimed at saving the trees the developer started the removal process early last week. The Kauai Outdoor Circle and the Koloa Community Association worked in tandem to save the trees. Both organizations are saddened by the outcome.
The trees came down to make way for a new shopping center. And more stores are not what the community wanted. The developer refused to meet with community representatives to discuss plans prior to the removals. A court order requires Monkeypod trees be replanted within the development. However, it will take another 40-60 years for new trees to become what the others were…large, stately and beautiful.
The Outdoor Circle and the Kauai Outdoor Circle will continue to watch this development closely to ensure that the newly planted trees are cared for and given the opportunity to survive.
Due to a loophole in Kauai’s permitting process, developer Nelson Co. sued the County of Kauai and was able to get a judgment allowing them to build what is now known as “The Shops at Koloa Town”. This is about a 76,000 sq. ft. mall that will go in on the corner of Maluhia and Koloa Roads, right in the heart of Koloa Town.
The current design calls for the removal of 23 Monkey pod trees, some of which are 50-plus years old. These magnificent trees will be replaced with 12” diameter field stock. The replacement trees will have to be cut back to stubs in order to be transported from the nursery to the site. This is not acceptable to the Kauai Outdoor Circle.
We are working hard here on Kauai to save the Monkey pod Trees. Our President, Maureen Murphy, is a certified Arborist. She is assessing the value of the trees so the developer can fully understand the value of what he is about to destroy. As for me, I am a sign waver and runner, distributing hundreds of flyers and postcards pre-addressed to the developer. Using these cards shoppers can easily let the developer know how they feel about losing the trees. We are working along with the Koloa Community Association and Malama Mahalepu to bring all the attention we can to the plight of the trees.
Please e-mail or write a letter asking the developer to save these trees. He can be reached at:
Mr David Nelson
6060 Orchard Lake Rd, Suite 200
West Bloomfield, MI 48322
drnelson @ nelsoncos.com
In your letter also request that he meet with the Koloa Community Association and The Kauai Outdoor Circle to discuss how we can incorporate more of the trees into his plans for the shopping mall. After all, most developers want instant landscaping. This one already has it.
IMUA – TAKE A STAND!
Monday January 7, 2008
10am – 10pm
Save the Trees
Make signs under the Monkey pod trees
Candlelight Vigil at Sunset
Old Koloa Town = Old Koloa Trees
Developer David Nelson will be on Kauai the week of January 7
Design around the trees, let them live!
Check back for more information
On a recent Saturday morning a crowd gathered at Aikahi Triangle Park in Kailua to bless the 21 Nara and Monkey pod trees planted in the median of Mokapu Boulevard. The event also was a celebration of the partnership between the Lani-Kailua Outdoor Circle and the City Department of Parks and Recreation, Division of Urban Forestry.
Mayor Mufi Hannemann, City Council Chair Barbara Marshall, Parks Director Lester Chang and LKOC President, Sharon Geary, as well as most of the LKOC Board members were in attendance. The 21 trees were supplied by the City and LKOC Board paid the planting costs of more than $15,000. The trees were planted to replace the dead Wiliwili trees which had fallen prey to the state-wide blight.
Once again greedy concert promoters have decided that our communities are a good place for them to illegally advertise their events. Last week hundreds of ugly yellow flyers were posted on utility poles in various places across O‘ahu, most notably on the beautiful Windward side.
From Makapu‘u Lookout to the Waimanalo business district dozens of utility poles were wallpapered with flyers creating an unforgivable eyesore along one of the most scenic roadways on the planet. The flyers were strategically concentrated in the areas where people tend to congregate—near pubic parks, in front of schools, close to commercial businesses and in residential neighborhoods. The same flyers also have been posted on numerous utility poles elsewhere on the island as well.
The event advertised on the posters is a reggae concert scheduled for Kualoa Ranch. But of course Kualoa denied any knowledge of the dastardly deed, as did the concert’s promoter. That’s par for the course. The utility poles on all of our islands frequently become the target of event promoters who obviously believe that their desire to make money supersedes the peoples’ right to live and play in an environment free of illegal advertising. And make no mistake about it, posting any type of sign on a utility pole, whether a concert flyer or garage sale notice, is not only a civil violation that can result in fines, but also a criminal act for which violators can be sentenced to community service and even time in jail.
In this instance The Outdoor Circle would like to extend a huge mahalo to the State Department of Transportation for its extremely quick action in dispatching a highway crew to remove the flyers along Kalanianaole Highway in the Waimanalo area. The removal work obviously was done at taxpayer expense. Even so, hundreds of flyers for the Kualoa event remain on utility poles elsewhere on O‘ahu and we encourage anyone who finds this illegal activity offensive to call Kualoa Ranch and register a complaint. Kualoa might not be responsible for posting the flyers, but it and other event venues should communicate a clear message in their contracts with promoters that illegally advertising their events will result in stiff financial penalties and result in losing their ability to stage future events. That’s the type of action that might make event promoters obey the law and prevent the unconscionable littering of our communities with illegal advertising.
In the meantime, if you see illegal flyers on utility poles anyplace on O‘ahu, please call The Outdoor Circle.
Margaret Mead said, “Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have.” She couldn’t have been more right judging by how The Outdoor Circle celebrated Arbor Day this year.
It was a sad day last summer when a stately, 90+ year old tree at Kuhio School had to be removed, the victim of disease. The tree was well loved and many of Honolulu’s media outlets covered the distressing news. Shortly afterward I received a call from a Kuhio School graduate who was so upset over the tree’s loss that she offered to donate a replacement tree.
Word went around among the landscape/tree community asking where we could obtain a Monkey pod tree. The response was amazing. Wayne Ogasawara from Mililani Agricultural Park stepped forward and offered to donate the tree of the donor’s choosing and Steve Nimz of Steve Nimz Associates volunteered to dig the tree out of the ground and move it to the school. He offered also to dig the hole and to replant it.
But first we needed to ensure that Kuhio School wanted another tree. Mrs. Evelyn Hao, Principal, was thrilled when we spoke. She admitted to being very sad to have lost the tree and couldn’t believe that someone cared enough to give the school another. She also stipulated that she wanted as big a tree as possible.
Thursday November 1, 2007 was our Arbor Day celebration at the school. Following a very stormy evening and several morning downpours, the day turned sunny and beautiful just in time for our celebration. As we kicked off our program we were treated to a rainbow which arched beautifully across the tree, as a bird frolicked in his new home. We could not have ordered a more perfect day!
Many guests from the community came as did representatives from the Department of Education and friends of The Outdoor Circle. The Kuhio School Choir entertained us with songs and the Student Government Officers provided us with many famous quotes and proverbs about trees.
All of this from one “do-gooder” in the community who cared enough to change her world and wanted Kuhio School students to benefit from the tree in the same way.
The Outdoor Circle and Prince Jonah Kuhio School cordially invite you to participate in a celebration of Arbor Day 2007
Help restore shade, solace and beauty to the playground of Prince Jonah Kuhio School. The 90 year old Monkeypod tree lost in July will be replaced by another – the gift of a generous donor.
Where: Prince Jonah Kuhio School, 2759 S. King Street
When: Thursday, Nov 1, 2007
Time: 9:00 a.m.
Refreshments Immediately Following
The Outdoor Circle has stepped away from the ongoing discussions about the proposed removal and relocation of trees at Magic Island. We have done so because we believe the recent statements made by the city which state that no trees will be removed or relocated to accommodate the Blue Planet Festival concerts. We stand by our public statements on this matter but we believe it is counter productive to continue a conversation over a matter that has been settled.
We have formally asked the City to refrain from issuing statements that are not supported by the facts. Chief among the misleading statements about Blue Planet Festival’s proposal is the repeated comment that the City “never gave the idea any consideration.”
The fact is that the City has given long, hard consideration to the proposal. Finally that consideration resulted in the proposal being rejected. But for the City to state that it wasn’t even considered is simply not the case. On the contrary, according to Les Chang (Director of Parks and Recreation) and others, DPR staff was involved in multiple discussions with Blue Planet. In addition, we were specifically told that a City landscape architect/arborist had been involved in working to identify specific locations on Magic Island where trees worthy of relocation might be planted.
When we received the anonymous letter raising concerns about the Blue Planet Festival we had several discussions with Les Chang and others within City government. In those conversations we were repeatedly told that the City has been meeting and working off and on with Blue Planet for months. The head of the Division of Urban Forestry hosted one of our staff members on a tour of Magic Island and pointed out 15 trees that the City was considering removing and/or relocating. Of those trees only five showed serious signs of being burned by charcoal. We were told the remaining trees would block the view planes of concert patrons and television cameras.
Following the tour, representatives from the Department of Parks and Recreation, Urban Forestry, and three representatives of the Blue Planet Festival met with our President Betsy Connors, Bob Loy and me. At the meeting we were informed that in addition to the 15 trees shown to us on the tour, at least four other trees also would have to be relocated or the concert could not be held. At no time in this meeting did anyone state that the tree removal/relocation proposal was not being considered by the City. In fact it was repeatedly stated that the “targeted” trees would be removed and/or relocated at the expense of Blue Planet and that in addition, Blue Planet would provide a mitigation package of “community benefits” that would likely include providing the resources to plant many more trees at locations of the City’s choosing.
This discussion is well documented in detailed notes taken during the meeting. The notes show that the City was considering the Blue Planet proposal and had spent significant time and resources examining it to determine how it might be executed.
There is one other clarification which must be made. The Mayor and his representatives continue to boast of the City’s status as a “Tree City USA.” Honolulu should be proud of its position and flaunt it as much as possible. However, this status is one that we’ve held for more than 20-years and comes from the Arbor Day Foundation (http://www.arborday.org/index.cfm) and not from the US Conference of Mayors.
It is our desire to move past this issue and continue working on what we do best – the protection and enhancement of the beauty of Honolulu.
The Outdoor Circle is in complete agreement with the Honolulu Star Bulletin. The caption of their editorial, dated August 27, 2007 reads, “Move the stage, not the trees.” We concur.
It all started with an anonymous letter which stated that the city was negotiating with a group to hold a large concert at Magic Island. The trees, it asserted, would block the view of the stage and the city had planned to remove and/or relocate them.
This was hard to believe. TOC staff speaks with the city’s Division of Urban Forestry at least three times a week about various tree issues. No one ever told us about a plan to remove or relocate trees at Magic Island. Nor had they told us about a large concert planned for next spring. We later learned that city employees and consultants were given orders to keep the entire plan under wraps.
We wrote to Honolulu’s Director of Parks and Recreation and learned that it was true! For more than a year the city has been working with a group called Blue Planet Festival. The plan is to hold a two day symposium on energy sustainability and then a two day music and arts festival at Magic Island. Festival promoters hope for 25,000 – 30,000 people to attend the concert this year with plans of growing the annual festival’s attendance to as many as 50,000 in future years.
The irony of this potential debacle was not lost on us. A group claiming to promote sustainable energy and operating under an umbrella of environmental sensitivity wants to rip out and relocate mature trees to improve views for a concert. In addition, the promoters say for several days the event will close all of Magic Island for public use. The only people allowed in will be those who pay for a ticket—price yet to be announced. The event also will restrict public access to and usage of other parts of Ala Moana Beach Park as well.
When we met with the promoters and city officials to learn about the plan they explained that this is the only location on O‘ahu large enough to accommodate the event. Perhaps they’re not familiar with Aloha Stadium? Blue Planet Festival also claimed that the city will benefit because they will leave the park better than when they began. But they were unable to explain what their plan was or how the park would be enhanced. It is hard for us to believe that removing and/or relocating 15 or more trees from the center of Magic Island will enhance it at all.
The Outdoor Circle believes that making permanent changes in a park to accommodate a temporary event is completely unconscionable. We believe it is the City’s responsibility to be a steward of our park lands not a promoter of paid events.
We urge the people of Honolulu to closely monitor this still evolving story. That’s certainly what The Outdoor Circle intends to do.
On August 6, 2007 six employees from the Department of Transportation (DOT) met with Outdoor Circle (TOC) volunteers and staff to discuss the ongoing tree massacre on the H-2 Freeway. Earlier DOT promised that all tree work on the highway would stop until TOC and its volunteer arborists examined the arborist report, walked the entire site and reviewed a replanting plan, but DOT contractors continued to cut trees leaving three-foot stumps in their wake.
At our sit-down it was agreed by DOT that they made some “mis-steps.” They offered in the future to provide TOC with all work orders their maintenance department issues relating to pruning and removing trees. DOT expressed its hope that in doing so future miscommunications will be avoided.
We believe that the amount of negative attention this project generated took DOT by surprise. At first DOT’s public spokesman claimed the trees were cut because they were dangerous, then he said it was because they were invasive, and finally he claimed it was because they were a fire hazard. None of this was necessarily true and it was clear the DOT was shooting from the hip using any excuse it could find in order to justify the mess it created.
Let’s hope that DOT learned an important lesson…TOC must be consulted before any projects of this magnitude are undertaken again. Our members are always watching. Mahalo to each of you who contacted us frantic for information. We hope that you are satisfied with our actions. We are not finished. In fact, we promise that H-2 will be green again!
From the State Capitol to Honolulu Hale. From the headquarters of Hawaii’s Big Five Companies to the Makiki shop owner and just about every other corner of Hawai‘i government and business those seven little words “Have you talked to The Outdoor Circle” have been repeated countless times.
But it was exactly the opposite, not talking to The Outdoor Circle, that landed the Department of Transportation (DOT) in a negative light with the cutting and removal of hundreds of trees on the H-2 Freeway.
The massive tree removal began at the end of June and prompted dozens of telephone complaints to our office. We are usually consulted prior to a removal action of this magnitude but unfortunately that didn’t happen this time.
We prefer to have the opportunity to have trees assessed by qualified arborists to determine if they are structurally hazardous or if their locations present a threat to motorists. We did not have the opportunity to do that in this instance and were as surprised as those traveling on H-2 when the work began.
DOT has used every excuse in the book for removing these trees. Scott Ishikawa, the department’s spokesperson, said that a tree limb fell on their emergency call box prompting the clear cutting. In their press release DOT also said they cut down the Albizia, Opiuma and Christmas Berry trees because they were invasive. We believe there are far too many trees of these types classified as invasive species to ever remove them from Hawaii’s landscape, nor would the public stand for that.
It should be stated that The Outdoor Circle is not for saving hazardous trees and had DOT told us in advance and allowed us to walk the site we might have agreed that some number needed to be removed. But 70-100 trees? We think not!
The DOT has promised to replant the area with native trees by the end of the year. You have our promise that we will be reminding them of that promise regularly. And by the way, DOT also has promised to call The Outdoor Circle before taking on a project of this magnitude again.
The beauty and diversity of Hawaii’s flowering trees is stunning. With assistance from The Outdoor Circle, the Honolulu Advertiser recently published a very detailed and informative article about these highlights of our local landscape.
Staff writer Loren Moreno starts the article with:
Hawai’i may not have the East Coast’s famous autumnal turning of the leaves, but our summer brings a riotous show of color.
If you want to learn more about the Monekeypod, Royal Poinciana, Octopus, African Tulip and more, we suggest you head on over and read the article in full! The publicly accessible article will expire by September 1, 2007.
You can also see more photos by visiting The Outdoor Circle’s Flickr page. Flickr is a photo sharing site; if you are a member, please add us to your Contacts!