Our Leaf touches ground this week with lots of news about branch engagement and statewide public affairs. I am very happy to report that the Exceptional Tree Initiative is being championed by Susan Spangler, appointed representative to the Mayor’s Arborist Advisory Council.
Things have been busy for our volunteers this first half of the legislative session. With “cross-over” completed earlier this month, we now know which bills have a good chance of making it to “conference committee” at the end of the legislative session. It is exciting to see some of the Senators and Representatives championing the environment with such knowledge and inspiration. This is a challenging time as we all reckon with the cost of development to our ecosystem. It is extremely hopeful to hear these leaders talking about carrying capacity on our islands, particularly on O’ahu.
We have a strong leader in our Honolulu City Council, who sees the danger in proliferation of advertising on our roadways. Moving ads on busses is proven to be a distraction to drivers, not to mention to the visual plane. It can’t be said too often: “Our beauty is the hand that feeds us.” A beautiful, calming viewscape is an intrinsic part of the much revered aloha spirit.
We hope that all of our Mayors will follow Mayor Caldwell in making our county parks a priority over the next few years. This is news The Outdoor Circle likes to move with!
We ask you to join us in being an active steward for The Outdoor Circle. Here's what you can ask of your friends and neighbors: Become a member (click here), volunteer some time (click here), and regularly visit our website and facebook page to catch up on our activities.
One of the first memorial trees Waimea Outdoor Circle volunteers planted in the Waimea Nature Park was to Christine Snyder, The Outdoor Circle's arborist that was killed in the plane on September 11th in Pennsylvania.
Waimea branch members recently replaced the fading plaque with this new and larger one, which can be found at the base of a large Koai'a tree on the meadow, near the concrete bench. Members place an American flag and flowers there every September 11th and 4th of July.
For almost 15 years, Waimea branch members have volunteered their time to maintain this 10-acre public, botanical park in the heart of Waimea Town. Click here to learn more about the "Ulu La'au Nature Park."
Recently, we reported that members on Oahu are using "See, Click, Fix" -- a new app on their smartphones -- to report illegal billboards to Honolulu's enforcement division. And now we are seeing results! Here is the follow up from the first enforcement action taken through the "See, Click, Fix" App.
From the inspector's report:
"Inspection on 3/10/14 revealed the correct address of the complaint is 1357 South Beretania Street. The inspection on that date revealed the following:
- Mark Glen's Action (Gold) - There is a non-permitted sign (a banner). Pending.
Reinspection on 3/17/14 revealed the banner sign (Cash For Gold) has been removed at the above-referenced property."
Yay! It worked. The key here is patience. Like most counties in Hawaii, Honolulu's code enforcement division is woefully understaffed. It takes months for complaints to be inspected and notices of violations to be sent to property owners. We are heartened, however, to learn that two new enforcement officers were recently added to the staff at Honolulu's DPP Customer Service Division. These new officers combined with this more convenient method of reporting possible violations, we hope to stem the proliferation of illegal outdoor signage in Honolulu.
To download the app onto your smartphone, click here. You can make anonymous reports of billboard violations -- but be sure to mention you are working with The Outdoor Circle!
A special thanks to the members of the North Shore branch for taking the lead on enforcing our sign laws on Oahu.
Girlfriends, shopping, food, fashions & suspense... that was March 1st at Waikoloa Village Outdoor Circle’s annual Luncheon/ Fashion Show/ Auction & Waikoloa Sew ‘n’ Sews Quilt Opportunity.
We enjoyed good company, a fashion show of Tommy Bahama attire modeled by our members, and a great silent auction.
The highlight of every luncheon is the Quilt Opportunity. The Sew ‘n’ Sews create a truly unique & beautiful full- size quilt for some lucky soul to win. Every year I imagine redecorating my bedroom to match the quilt but alas, I have yet to win. Next Year.
All of WVOC’s fundraising is dedicated to making Waikoloa Village “clean, green and beautiful”. We plant trees, we clean-up, we care for our environment. Please join us.
Watch for your membership renewal postcard in the mail!
The Outdoor Circle will be mailing membership renewals for all members in the beginning of April.
To be efficient, we encourage you to submit your membership form and annual dues online by clicking here. This not only saves our trees, but reduces the costs of printing, postage, and data entry.
Renew by June 1, 2014 to ensure you are on the list to receive important updates, including an invitation to our Annual Meeting and election of officers to be held in August and our next convention of members, "The Full Circle."
If you have renewed your membership since the Fall, then your membership is current and you will not be receiving a postcard in the mail. Your membership will be up for renewal on June 1, 2015.
If you mail in your membership dues to the office (1314 S. King St. #306 Honolulu 96822), then please be sure to include a note indicating the branches you would like to join and your email address. Click here to download a membership form.
If you have any questions about the membership renewal process, call the office at 808-593-0300.
This is also a great time to help new members join The Circle. Ask your friends and family if they appreciate the natural beauty of Hawaii -- and if they do, then they should help support The Circle's work by becoming a member.
Congratulations to the founding members of the newest edition to The Outdoor Circle! The Manoa branch of The Outdoor Circle was chartered last night at 6:30 pm at the home of Dr. Jeremy Lam in Manoa. Despite the rainy weather, more than 25 people attended the charter meeting on Jerry’s lanai. The short business meeting was followed by festive conversation about beautification projects, political intrigue, and exceptional trees. We shared in homemade gau, curry egg salad and ham sandwiches to celebrate.
The founding board members are:
Jeremy Lam, President
Mike McFarlane, Vice President
Karin Ingersoll, Secretary
Diane Choy, Treasurer
If you are interested in joining the Manoa branch of The Outdoor Circle, just click on our membership page here or call us 593-0300. Current members can join the new branch at no additional cost. New members are asked to pay $25 in annual dues.
Members of the North Shore Outdoor Circle have had it with the proliferation of illegal signs in their community. They are banning together with members from the four other O’ahu branches to stamp out this visual blight. This is not the first time, TOC member have taken on illegal signs with great success. But this time they have a new secret weapon: a smartphone app called “See, Click, Fix.”
“See, Click, Fix” is a free application available on most smartphones that allows citizens to easily report problems to the county. The program automatically routes the reports to the proper agency. Your report can include images, the specific location, and a detailed description of the problem. Reports can be tracked on the SeeClickFix website, including when reported problems are resolved by the proper authorities.
TOC members are encouraged to install this app on their smartphones and start reporting illegal signs, dumping, water-wasting, trees in need, and any other matter that needs the county’s attention to the proper authorities. Be sure to mention that you are member of The Outdoor Circle in your reports.
Thanks to a major turn-out from all four TOC branches on O‘ahu, Mayor Caldwell’s proposal to sell advertising on the outside of city buses was deferred by the Budget Committee. Congratulations on a job well done!
This may, however, be only a temporary reprieve from the blight of bus billboards. We need to be prepared that Bill 69 might come before this Committee again in March. In preparation for that, we should:
1. Celebrate our victory!
Thank you to everyone who gave so much of their time and resources to make this campaign a success. Thank you to Kathy for chairing the working group, Martin for all of the advice and the very effective signs at the hearing, Barbara, Jeremy, Linda, John, Susan, Martin, and Kathy for meeting with Council members, Susan and Jeremy for the petition, Diane and Steve for reaching out to our allies, Leigh for contacting our Neighborhood Boards, to the 20+ people who testified in opposition to the bill today, and to all of the many wonderful letters to the editor that were submitted over the last month. All that work culminated in this victory. Mahalo nui loa!
2. Thank the Budget Committee & Council Chair
Please take a moment to draft a short thank you note to the members of the budget committee that supported us and especially Council Chair Ernie Martin. Below is a list of how the committee members voted. Here are their email addresses: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Chair Martin did not have to attend this committee meeting and speak so eloquently on the challenges with the city budget and against the passage of Bill 69. But he did and we are very grateful.
3. Continue to build our movement
We have to assume for now that Bill 69 will come up again during the March budget discussions. To be ready for that, it would be good to continue to meet with Council members, Neighborhood Boards, and other supportive groups, and continue to collect petition signatures. Please reply to this email if you are interested in joining the working group in this effort.
How the Committee voted on the motion to defer Bill 69:
Chair Ann Kobayashi (Manoa): YES.
Vice Chair Stanley Chang (East Honolulu): NO.
CM Carol Fukunaga (Makiki, Downtown) YES.
CM Joey Manahan (Kalihi) YES.
CM Kymberly Marcos Pine (Ewa, Waianae) YES with serious reservations.
Council Chair Ernie Martin (North Shore) is not on this committee, so could not vote on the motion, but he urged the committee to “shelve” the bill, and if not at least defer the bill until after the Mayor’s budget is released. He asked excellent questions of the administration.
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
KHON: Mayor wants buses turned into rolling billboards
KITV: Mayor: Bus Ads Ticket to Restore Routes, Services
PBN: Honolulu mayor proposes adding advertising to the sides of buses
Star-Advertiser: Exterior ads could earn $8 million
The Waimea Branch is pleased with its newest addition to Ulu La`au the Waimea Nature Park, a concrete classroom-like structure that will provide community members with a durable and comfortable workstation for conducting classes, demonstrations and workshops. Over the past years of Ulu La`au’s existence, there have been many groups that utilize the park with no usable facility to accommodate them. With the “educational unit”, we now have the ability to seat up to thirty individuals and provide a space for a teacher, or demonstrator to address the group. Funding for this project was provided by Hawaii Community Foundation’s Ho`ohui `O Waimea Grant. All of the labor for this project was donated. Thank you to everyone who supported this effort.
While we continue to use the workstation in its current open-air condition, it is obvious that the space would be more functional with some protection from the sun and rain. Waimea Outdoor Circle’s next step is to secure funding for the design and construction of a permanent roof over the tables and benches.
Winter is made more brilliant in Hawai’i with the fruiting citrus trees and blooming Hong Kong Orchid trees. These kinds of shade trees provide protective canopies that play many roles in managing a healthy ecosystem. Many of the giant canopy trees seen around the islands, and now deemed Exceptional Tree status, 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 life cycle. The Outdoor Circle is committed to a state-wide Exceptional Tree Initiative, endorsed by our Governor and First Lady, both long-time members of The Outdoor Circle. This plan of action includes community members who steward the parks and other public areas where the legacy trees are planted. They will have our help in replacing their neighborhood trees with large canopied trees.A large canopy tree is definitive of the structure of The Outdoor Circle. Ten branches state-wide make a healthy canopy under which our organization fulfills our mission.
We start the New Year by welcoming our 10th branch in West Honolulu, seated in the verdant hills of Manoa. We look toward to Kapolei district to follow in these footsteps, and seeds have been planted for a new branch on the Big Island.
Our Administrative Board of Directors joins with me in thanking all of you who continue to keep the” clean, green and beautiful” legacy alive. We look forward to many opportunities to preserve and protect our environment during 2014. Our statewide Legislative Agenda is posted in this newsletter, a broad three-pronged action plan which was developed statewide during our Full Circle Meeting.
We ask you to join us in being an active steward for The Outdoor Circle. Here’s what you can ask of your friends and neighbors: Become a member, volunteer some time, and make visits to our website and fb page to catch up on our actions.
President of The Outdoor Circle
Working to keep Hawai`i clean, green, and beautiful since 1912
(Image: Hong Kong Orchid by Petter Johansen)
Greenleaf is the online newsletter and blog of The Outdoor Circle. Here you will find updates on the projects and accomplishments of our many branches throughout the state, as well as programs with statewide impact.