After almost two years of questioning by Hawaii Kai residents, a community demonstration and “town hall meeting” held by former Mayor Mufi Hannemann, the city has seen the light and agreed to reduce the amount of lighting it will install on the rest of Phase I of a street lighting project on one of Hawaii Kai’s main thoroughfares, Lunalilo Home Road.

The announcement came at the March 29 meeting of the Hawaii Kai Neighborhood Board.  The city will install 70 watt fixtures in about 42 poles from Wailua Street to just beyond Koamano Street.

When the city started installing the project in April 2009, they had plans to triple the amount of light and use 40-year-old technology, i.e., 150 watt high-pressure sodium globe-type fixtures on triple the amount of poles.  As part of former Mayor Hannemann’s compromise in September 2009, the city agreed to reduce the lighting to just double by using 100 watt fixtures with fully-shielded lenses which reduce the amount of glare and direct the light toward the ground rather than out the side and up toward the sky.  The revised plan was implemented from Kalanianaole Hwy. to Wailua Street.

The former mayor stated the Hawaii Kai Neighborhood Board (HKNB) should see how they liked the lighting on the first part of Phase I and then let the city know how the community would like the rest of Phase I handled.  After approximately a 10-month permitting delay, the city was able to light up the project to the Wailua intersection in January 2011.  The city provided the HKNB with cost alternatives, but only for the 100 and 150 watt options.  They stated they would not provide the cost of 70 watt fixtures as they would be required to install more poles if 70 watt bulbs were used.

Hawaii Kai resident Natalie Iwasa, who was not satisfied with that response, researched the guidelines published by the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America, took pedestrian counts on the road and spoke with Collins Lam regarding her findings.  After the city made additional inquiries with other municipalities, reviewed the findings and standards, they determined that they were indeed able to install the lower wattage bulbs and still meet requirements.

Iwasa, a CPA, said taxpayers will save tens of thousands of dollars (in today’s dollars) over the life of the project due to the change.  The contractor is required to remove the old poles after the lights have been energized.  The contract for Phase II of the project, from the end of Phase I to Hawaii Kai Drive, will be canceled.

Iwasa indicated the only remaining question regarding the project is:  What did former Mayor Hannemann get, or expect to get, out of tripling the amount of lighting, when it was clearly not warranted?

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