FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wai`anae Farmland Saved
State rejects industrial park proposed for Lualualei Valley
A vote held today at the Hawai`i State Land Use Commission failed to approve a petition by Tropic Lands, LLC to build a 96-acres industrial park on current agricultural lands in Lualualei Valley, on the Wai`anae Coast of O`ahu. The Concerned Elders of Wai`anae, a growing group of individuals working to protect culturally significant and agriculturally viable lands in this community, intervened on the LUC proceedings in defense of the Petition Area.
"This is a tremendous victory for the farmers and for all of Wai`anae,” said Alice Greenwood, spokesperson for the Concerned Elders. “Not only have we saved this farmland, but we have helped to protect neighboring farms and uphold the integrity of Honolulu’s agricultural districts.”
Over the eight months of proceedings, many residents testified to the concern over losing farmable land to urban creep. "Many of the residents testifying against this proposal moved with their families to Wai`anae in the 50s, 60s and 70s, as urbanization pushed them out of other areas of O'ahu. This is a community committed to defending the rural character of this place, to growing food, and to keeping country country," said Lucy Gay, professor at Leeward Community College-Wai`anae, and a supporter of the Concerned Elders of Wai'anae.
"We are the end of the road, literally. We will fight the hardest, because we cannot lose agricultural lands. We will not give up one more inch," said Georgette Meyer. Meyer worked on the land when it was an active farm.
"Twenty years ago, we were here defending this same piece of land, when developers wanted to make a golf course. We told them then that we cannot eat golf balls. Today we are telling them that we can't eat concrete," said Meyer.
"We can grow gold in Wai`anae, we can grow silver here in the soil of Wai`anae. Food is more valuable than our money, food will sustain us when our money will not." Lawrence Lucero, a Nanakuli Hawaiian Homestead resident opposed to the industrial park.
The proposed 96-acre industrial park would have cemented lands actively farmed until the farmers were evicted in 1988 to make way for a Japanese-owned golf course. The community protested, and the golf course proposal faltered, then failed. In 2005, the land was purchased by Tropic Lands, LCC, which did not make the land available for farming. Several of the owners of Tropic Lands, LCC are also proprietors of various waste hauling operations, such as Clyde Kaneshiro. Tropic Land had been in negotiations with PVT Land Company, who owns the adjacent property, to establish a new municipal waste landfill there known as Nanakuli B.
"We are concerned about the 'domino effect' this rezoning would have had. Industrial land use on one parcel inevitably leads to more and more industrial land use on nearby land, and so on down the road," said Pat Patterson. “There is more than enough industrial land available along Farrington Highway, which is more appropriate place for it than this farming community.”
Residents of nearby Hakimo Road expressed concerns about the increased traffic and close proximity of industrial land use to their farms and homes. The EIS for the project predicts an additional 500 vehicles per hour, during peak hours. "I just can't see 500 more cars and trucks coming through our community like that," said Lori Nordlum, who grew up in the area and lives near Hakimo Road.
The fight, however, is not over. Tropic Lands, LLC has also attempted to include an oval-shaped industrial zone--which some residents have dubbed "the purple spot"--over their parcel, as a revision to the Waianae Sustainable Community Plan. The "purple spot" plan is currently being considered by the Honolulu Planning Commission. They will vote on whether to recommend the plan to the Honolulu City County Council some time next month.
"If the community has no consensus over a proposal then you don't put that proposal into their plan,” said Kapua Keliikoa-Kamai, a Wai`anae resident. “The community needs to come to a consensus about this whole plan. That has not happened, so this plan should not be advanced to the City Council."
"Lualualei is a fertile, culturally rich and rural place. It deserves our respect and protection from incompatible land uses like this industrial park proposed in the middle of farms, homes, and conservation lands." said Marti Townsend, Program Director at KAHEA: The Hawaiian-Environmental Alliance, and supporter of the Concerned Elders.
For more information, visit www.KAHEA.org. Media contact: Marti Townsend, KAHEA, 808-372-1314.