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Support sustainability this Mother’s Day with an all-day event that features good food, outside activities, and sustainable development demonstrations.
Hele On Kaka‘ako!!
Sunday May 12th
Cooke Street and Ala Moana Blvd
10 AM – 3 PM
We are excited to partner with organizations throughout O‘ahu for “Hele On Kaka‘ako!” 10 AM – 3 PM on May 12th. It is an alternative Mother’s Day event hosted by Cycle On Hawai‘i that offers lots of activities for families, including a 5K run, a skateboard ramp, “Eat the Street” Food Trucks, educational booths, and the first-ever in Hawai’i “Complete Street” demonstration. That’s why TOC will be there — to show just how much better our streets could be if they are designed well, with community involvement and, of course, lots of trees.
We’ll have thousands of plants for sale, hat weaving demonstrations, and lots more.
Come and visit Outdoor Circle volunteers at our educational booth and parklet on Cooke Street. Find out the latest event details, including parking visit: http://www.cycleonhawaii.org.
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 will be held on May 30th at the Mandalay Restaurant in Honolulu. This year we will be ratifying revisions to our Bylaws and restating our Articles of Incorporation (formerly called the “Charter of Incorporation”), as well as electing next year’s Board of Directors for the organization.
To participate, members can RSVP for the Annual Meeting by clicking here, or calling our office in Honolulu at 808-593-0300 by May 24th. If you are unable to attend the meeting, but wish to vote, then please download and fill out the proxy below and return it to our office in Honolulu by May 24th. All members in good standing are entitled to a vote by proxy or at the meeting.
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 is the proposed amended bylaws and restated Articles of Incorporation, which are now presented to the members for ratification.
Governing Documents Proposed for Ratification by Members May 30th:
Previous Versions of Governing Documents for Comparison:
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.
Here is a link that will enable you to sign a petition calling for UH to save the tree.
The Outdoor Circle urges its supporters to visit the website and sign the petition.
To learn the full details of The Outdoor Circle’s position on this issue please read my letter to U.H. Manoa Chancellor, Virginia Hinshaw.
For further information, below are two articles about the issue. The first is a story that was published in the August 2009 issue of The Outdoor Circle Newsletter, Greenleaf. The second is a link to an article from a blog by KGMB news reporter Jim Mendoza and published on the KGMB website in October 2009.
Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions about this issue.
Thank you for your continued support.
TOC is fighting the removal of numerous trees including an extremely rare variety of Banyan are planned to be removed from the Campus of the University of Hawaii at Manoa. The trees are in the way of a planned student recreation center adjacent to the UH Campus Center.
TOC has urged Manoa Chancellor Virgina Hinshaw to move the project to a better location on the opposite side of the Campus Center. TOC says the building is being “shoehorned” into a space that is too close to other buildings and would require the “tragic removal” of the Banyan. The important “heritage tree” is believed to have been planted by the reknowned Botonist Dr. Joseph Rock and might be the only Banyan of its type in Hawai‘i.
TOC believes the Campus Center administration wants construction to start before the project’s funding lapses. TOC told Hinshaw that rationale will result in rushing the project into the wrong site, for the wrong reasons.
By Jim Mendoza, KGMB 9 News
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.
We’ve all seen signs that don’t look quite right. Most O‘ahu residents know that billboards are illegal in Hawai‘i and about Honolulu’s strict signage codes. But the laws are confusing and applying them even more so. The Outdoor Circle’s Signs Committee decided to help. The committee developed a brochure which attempts to decipher the ordinances so that most of us can more easily understand the rules. Link to the PDF file below and let us know if you have any questions. Better yet, if you see what you think may be an illegal sign don’t hesitate to report it to either the city or the state. Remember, you always must have an address where the sign is located and a detailed description of the sign in question. Oahu Signs Brochure
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!