Currently making its way through the House of Representatives is HB 550.

This bill, yet another indicator of the cozy relationship between developers and our government, is an effort to fast track development of the proposed Pacific Health Center in Waipio; the bill states in part “… a master planned health care center and retirement community that generally includes facilities as a medical mall or other settings, a medical technology park, medical-related residential areas, and general residential and commercial areas and appropriate infrastructure situated on the parcel of land identified by tax map key 9-4-6:01 shall be exempt from all statutes, ordinances, charter provisions, and rules of any governmental agency relating to planning, zoning, construction standards for subdivisions, development and improvement of land, and the construction of units thereon.”

Rep. Marcus Oshiro, D, Wahiawa-Poamoho, a member of the Wahiawa Hospital Association, whose subsidiary, the for-profit Pacific Health Community, Inc., is pushing the development, introduced the bill on Jan. 21.

Jeff Mikulina, Director of the Hawaii Chapter of the Sierra Club, has called this bill an “insult to citizens in Central Oahu.”

That’s because, in addition to the health center, the parcel covered by the bill also includes the proposed Castle & Cooke Koa Ridge Makai residential development, which would add approximately 3,300 residential units across the street from Costco.

Last year the Mililani Neighborhood Board intervened before the state Land Use Commission in a failed attempt to prevent the reclassification of the land for the proposed development without binding provisions for concurrent construction of adequate schools and roadways to support the new population.

The Land Use Commission reclassified the parcel with no provision for traffic mitigation and a weakly worded provision regarding developer responsibility for school construction.

Theoretically, traffic and educational facility concerns are addressed before construction permits are issued by the City & County; Section VII, Objective A, Policy 4 of the General Plan “Require(s) new developments to provide or pay the cost of all essential community services, including roads, utilities, schools, parks, and emergency facilities that are intended to directly serve the development.”

Although this process has often failed in the past, as evidenced by inadequate education facilities and gridlock during rush hour in Central Oahu as well as Ewa, it is the last hope for residents before construction begins.

This bill, if passed, will remove even this last glimmer of hope for improvement in an already unacceptable traffic/education situation in Central Oahu, make daily commutes even more daunting, and certainly be a blow to the governor’s vision of more home rule for the counties.

”’Doug Thomas is the Chairman of the Planning & Zoning Committee for Mililani Neighborhood Board. He can be reached via email at:”’ mailto:thomasd005@hawaii.rr.com

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