SB 632 is now Act 218, SLH 2014!
We celebrated this great victory for the environment with a luncheon at HASR Bistro in Honolulu. See all the pictures from the great event here.
We owe a very special thanks to our heroes:
Committee Chairs Rep. Chris Lee and Sen. Mike Gabbard, as well as advocates Jan Dapitan, Alice Greenwood, DOCARE Chief Randy Awo and Dean Denise Antolini. It is because of your leadership, determination, and willingness to work together that this bill became law after so many years of effort.
We also want to give a shout out to the many groups that helped this bill along the way, including: Keep Hawaiian Islands Beautiful, Get the Drift and Bag It, Kua‘aina Ulu ‘Auamao, Nani O Wai‘anae, Conservation International, Department of Land and Natural Resources, and students at the William S. Richardson School of Law's Environmental Law Program.
To learn more about the Environmental Court in Hawaii, click here.
On Sunday, June 29th, eleven WOC volunteers worked for about three hours cleaning, weeding, trimming and sprucing up the center of town by taking part in Matson's Ka Ipu Aina community program. We made a noticeable difference and it was a fun project. This event raised $1,000 for Waimea Outdoor Circle!
By Alexandra Avery
The 2014 Legislative session ended with a big win for the environment (and The Outdoor Circle): establishment of a statewide Environmental Court. This new approach to enforcing our environmental laws will facilitate future efforts of our branches and volunteers to keep Hawai’i Clean, Green, and Beautiful. I want to especially thank the members who showed up at public hearings and spoke for the Circle. This was a major accomplishment for the Circle, considering this was our first Legislative Session without our long-time lead advocate and veteran lobbyist, Bob Loy. It was not easy, but volunteers worked hard to keep up our legislative presence in his absence. We should all feel good about the achievements made during this year’s session.
I have been encouraged by our branches outreach into the communities they serve. The good stewardship of Outdoor Circle members is evident throughout the state. We are a volunteer driven group that depends on annual memberships, donations and grants to make our projects and advocacy possible. We count on you to be stewards of the land and to help further our commitment to the environment.
Please help us to expand our membership and raise donations by telling your neighbors and friends about The Outdoor Circle and the work of its nine branches throughout the state. Share this newsletter with your friends and visit our website (www.outdoorcircle.org) and facebook page (www.facebook.com/TheOutdoorCircle). Download membership forms by clicking here and help encourage new people in your neighborhood to join-up. Call us for more ways in which you can easily be a Circle ambassador or to get involved in one of our committees: 808-593-0300.
We are lucky to have so many kupuna in our Circle, since of course we are such an ‘old organization.’ All of our branches are working to mentor in the next generation of Outdoor Circle leaders. Our leadership circle is available to speak to your neighbors or organization. We will be honoring these kupuna at our Annual Meeting in August. Hope you will join us and bring a future leader.
We are pleased to initiate a new column in the Green Leaf: Under The Canopy. This is YOUR column to share news of and from our membership. The first report is from East Honolulu branch member Christiane Kau‘i Lucas. What would you like to contribute to this column? Email us at email@example.com.
Volunteers with the Lani-Kailua Outdoor Circle mentor female prisoners through gardening and life in the “Learning to Grow” program at the Women’s Community Correctional Center. This hydroponic vegetable and herb garden was one of many projects showcased for visitors from the World Indigenous Peoples Conference on Education (WiPC:E 2014) in May. Conference participants -- indigenous leaders in education from around the world -- were introduced to current program participants, program graduates, and LKOC volunteers who showed them how the inmates raise the nearly 1,000 heads of lettuce, herbs and other vegetables used in prison meals every week. LKOC’s “Learning to Grow” program helped usher in several other food-growing projects at the center including groves of ‘ulu (breadfruit) and mai‘a (banana), and lo‘i (taro patches).
Twice a week, every week of the year, LKOC volunteers visit WCCC bringing soil, seeds, and their know-how to support inmates in the program. Inmates learn to cultivate food crops from seed to harvest and then prepare them for fellow inmates through the culinary program.
The Learning to Grow program is supported solely by donations from individuals and the proceeds of an annual plant sale. If you would like to support LKOC’s “Learning to Grow” program, click here to make a donation through our website (before completing your transaction, add “WCCC” or “Learning to Grow” in the notes section).
Volunteers from our five branches on O’ahu worked hard to stop the passage of Bill 69, which would have allowed billboards on the outside of city buses. Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi, chair of the Budget Committee, committed to deferring the fundraising measure for one year. The City Council passed a buget that restores key bus routes without resorting to bus billboard advertising to raise funds.
The challenge now is to identify additional sources of revenue for the City that can help to sustain basic city services (like buses and parks) without undermining the best interests of our community. Some of your suggestions for revenue sources have been proffered to the Council members in private meetings. Stay tuned as this issue continues to be discussed.
In the meantime, continue to build support for maintaining Hawaii’s ban on billboards by collecting signatures of the petition against bus billboards, talking to your Neighborhood Board and City Councilmember, and supporting The Outdoor Circle.
By Kau‘i Lucas
April brought more than showers to Hawaii shores. Some of the worlds leaders in addressing Climate Change visited the islands, as well. UH Sea Grant & Sen. Brian Schatz brought together national and local leaders to develop, promote, and finance sustainable solutions to the problems we face in Hawai‘i along with key stakeholders from government, industry, academia, the private sector, on April 15th to recommend specific action steps. Presenters included former Vice President Al Gore and US Senator Barbara Boxer. The following week Bill McKibben, author, environmentalist, and founder of 350.org, the first planet-wide, grassroots climate change movement, spoke to a packed house, at UH Art Auditorium. Gore and McKibben were both passionate and fact filled. Gore, ever the politician, sounded the alarm more gently than McKibben, but one fact both shared was this stunner: The total amount of man-made global warming pollution surrounding the planet and the atmosphere today now traps enough extra energy every 24 hours to equal the energy release by 400,000 Hiroshima atomic bombs going off every single day. (http://cnsnews.com/news/article/gore-energy-release-equal-400000-hiroshima-atomic-bombs-going-every-day)
Not surprising then that the take home message was: we can win this, but we ALL have to take action NOW.
Updated on April 24, 2014:
The Budget Committee voted to pass Bill 69 for second reading. The Honolulu City Council plans to hear the bill on May 7th at 10 AM at Honolulu Hale. If you care about this issue, please attend this important hearing.
From Kathy, Chair of the Bill 69 Working Group:
The City Council’s Budget Committee is once again considering Mayor Caldwell’s proposal to sell advertising on the outside of city buses. Hawaii is too beautiful for bus billboards! Our public bus service should not be held hostage to such an ineffective fundraising scheme.
Many of you worked hard back in January to convince the Budget Committee to defer consideration of the proposal for billboards on buses. They did defer the bill. But now that the Council is closer to voting on the final budget and the issue of Bill 69 is back on the agenda for Wednesday, April 23. There will be a hearing that morning, probably at 9 AM
If we work hard now, we can kill off this bad idea of bus billboards and stop the Mayor from holding bus service improvements hostage to advertising signs.
Here’s what each of us needs to do right now:
1. Prepare and submit testimony for the budget committee meeting on Apr. 23. You can fax your testimony to: or email it to:firstname.lastname@example.org,email@example.com,firstname.lastname@example.org
2. Make plans to attend the hearing, if at all possible. Bring your friends. We need to have a strong showing at this hearing to demonstrate support for keeping Honolulu billboard free. Click here to sign up to testify.
3. Forward the action alert email from The Outdoor Circle to other friends who share our concern for scenic beauty. If you are a Facebook user, post it on your Facebook page. “Like” The Outdoor Circle for more updates.
4. Call your Council Member to express opposition to Bill 69 even if your member of Council is not on the budget committee. (The Council Members do talk with each other!) Here is a list of all Council members with their phone numbers and their districts.
5. Call the office of each member of the budget committee to express opposition to Bill 69. That’s Chair Ann Kobayashi, Chair; Carol Fukunaga, Joey Manahan, Kimberley Pine, and Stanley Chang.
Our message is simple:
1. We cherish the scenic beauty of this island. Allowing advertising signs to mar this beauty is counter to all we hold dear. Rolling billboards are just as bad as the stationary ones The Outdoor Circle got rid of a century ago!
2. The Mayor and City Council must restore the cuts that were made in Oahu’s bus service. But they cannot hold bus service hostage to a plan for billboard advertising that will damage our scenic beauty. They must be creative and find the money somewhere else.
3. Bill 69 creates a false promise of new revenue because of its many legal problems. We already saw how previous efforts to regulate advertising content produced years of expensive litigation around aerial advertising. Bus billboards are a bad idea. The Budget Committee must kill this bill right now.
This is the time for all of us to take action. Hawaii is too beautiful for bus billboards.
Mahalo for your continuing commitment to keep Oahu free of rolling billboards on our buses.
For examples of what Honolulu could be in for if bus billboards are allowed, click here to see TOC's Facebook photo album.
Members of The Outdoor Circle came out to support Malama Manoa's regular 1000 tree giveaway this year. For several years, Malama Manoa has given away one tree per person with the help of countless volunteers. This year, more than 1,400 plants were available for pick-up at Manoa District Park and more than 100 volunteers pitched in.
They also had expert arborists and horticulturalists on-hand to answer people's plant questions. The Honolulu Woodturners demonstrated bowl-making and other interesting woodworking skills.
The plants were raised by volunteers -- at their homes and schools -- and donated to the give-away. If you are interested in helping to raise plants for the next tree give-away, contact the 1,000 Tree Giveaway Committee.
"Tree-For-All" by KITV news
Photo album for the 1000 Tree Giveaway
See more event pictures by liking the Manoa branch of The Outdoor Circle on Facebook!
Ring the bell!!! The Environmental Court is headed to conference committee. Woot, woot! This is the farthest this bill has ever gotten in the legislative process.
Mahalo to the members of the Senate and House Committees on the Environment and Judiciary and the House Finance Committee for shuttling this bill through the legislative process in an efficient and transparent way. We are so close to passing this bill.
But there is still much to do to ensure this bill gets to the Governor's desk. Some business trade groups strongly oppose the bill on the misguided theory that establishing an Environmental Court would be bad for business. Quite the opposite!
Establishing this court will help to further ensure that those businesses who pride themselves on environmentally-friendly operations are competing on a fair playing field against those businesses that have, up till now, simply incorporated harm to the environment as a cost of doing business.
This bill is important because it will establish a fairer and more efficient process for adjudicating violations of the protections established for our forests, oceans, wildlife, and public health. For all of the illegal dumpsites and abandoned vehicles, all of the fishing and hunting violations, for all the spills into our oceans and streams: the environment deserves its day in court.
The environmental court would function much like drug court, where cases concerning laws to protect our environment will be heard together on one docket by a judge focused on this area of law. With this focus comes more consistent outcomes. And with more consistent decisions comes more consistent enforcement and compliance. Residents, visitors, and businesses will know that Hawaii’s environmental protections are not just talk, but are truly and regularly enforced.
Now is the time to make sure all of our elected officials in the State Capitol understand the importance of this bill. Please take a moment to contact the Representatives and Senators in your area. Here is a link to a list of all Hawaii's state elected officials and their contact information. When you visit this link, input your zip code in the upper right-hand corner to find out which elected officials represent you.
The Circle’s newest branch -- Manoa Outdoor Circle -- is supporting Malama Manoa’s regular tree giveaway at the Manoa District Park on Sunday, April 6th, 8 AM - Noon. The featured tree this year is the Hong Kong Orchid.
Let’s welcome the Manoa branch to the Circle right by helping them out with 10 volunteers at their first event. The giveaway runs from 8 am - 12-noon at the Manoa Valley Park Pavilion; volunteers are needed from 7 am - 2 pm. Show our newest branch the love by coming out to support them! Contact the Circle office at 593-0300 to let us know you can be there. Mahalo!!
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."
Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell finally named the appointees to Honolulu’s Arborist Committee, which includes our very own Susan Spangler, president of the East Honolulu Outdoor Circle (center right in green and white dress). Congratulations to all the appointees!!
“We are delighted to have the honor to serve the City in this capacity,” said Susan Spangler. “Honolulu’s Exceptional Trees need our attention, if they are going to endure well into the next generation.”
This is a major first step in The Outdoor Circle’s Exceptional Tree Initiative, our new program to ensure Hawaii’s public greenspaces — and especially their Exceptional Trees — are well-maintained.
Arborist Committees are established by state law to implement the Exceptional Tree Act of 1976 at the county level. In each county, this committee is responsible for addressing tree-related issues, including the identification of new candidates for “Exceptional Tree” status. Honolulu County has been without an Arborist Committee since Mayor Caldwell took office in 2012.
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.
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.