Last month, we went to the Land Use Commission for the proposed rezoning of agriculture land to industrial land in the back of Lualualei Valley. From the moment I got there I felt lost–the actual hearing room is tucked away on the 4th floor with very little signage. The building is set with a corridor that goes around in a square with rooms toward the outside of the building and then a bigger square room in the center (although it’s not very big either). Before I realized the layout looked like a racetrack I was wandering around in a circle and ran into 4 other people looking for the LUC! I ducked into one of the offices and got directions. When we got to the actual hearing room I was shocked at how small it was! This is the room where some of the most important decisions about Hawai’i’s land and our access to that land happens… in this itty bitty place?!
It doesn’t inspire confidence that the commission that decides on how the space on our island is used, haven’t done such a good job managing their own space! There are tables arranged in a long rectangle with a big empty puka in the middle! This leaves enough space for a single ring of people to sit and stand around 3 of the 4 walls of the room. Everybody else has to overflow into the hallway where you can’t hear anything! Also, the guy who has the job of passing out printed materials from the testifiers sits on the other end of the rectangle and has to shimmy along the wall behind the commissioners to get the documents. There must be a better layout!
The point of my rant is that this kind of space doesn’t encourage public participation! Moreover, having the hearings during the workday prevents many people from participating. There must be a better way!