After sitting through four days of testimony from Tropic Land, the developer proposing to industrialize farmland at the back of Lualualei Valley, last week the Concerned Elders of Wai‘anae finally got their chance to say their peace. In just a day and a half, the Elders presented 9 witnesses, 5 of them experts. They all testified to the immense cultural significance of this area and the inadequacy of the cultural impact assessment conducted for this property, they testified to the rural nature of this community and how 500 more vehicles an hour on these roads would cripple their traffic system, they also testified to the history of farming on this exact spot, the tendency of this area to flood, and how poor the soil is for building on.
Professor Puakea Nogelmeier, Eric Enos and Emil Wolfgramm schooled the developer and the Commission on the cultural significance of landscape to Native Hawaiian cultural practice and the importance of the demigod Maui to Wai‘anae and all of the Pacific. The industrial park is proposed for construction on the shoulder of Maui’s profile in the Wai‘anae mountain range.
Professor Jonathan Deenik, Gary Enos, and Walterbea Aldeguar demonstrated how this land is good for farming and bad for urbanization. The developer’s attorney actually tried again with that giant orange bucket of dirt. But it didn’t work. They all agreed, yes, even with rocks like that, this land can grow food — good food!
And Aunties Alice Greenwood, Lori Nordlum and Elizabeth Stack offered the Commission a unique perspective into the history of this land and this community with their stories about Hakimo Road, the old railroad that would have to be moved to make way for the industrial park, and farming in their backyards.
It was a great showing for Wai‘anae! Eo Wai‘anae!!
The next hearing is tentatively scheduled for February 2nd, 9 am at 235 S. Beretania St., 4th Floor. This should be an exciting hearing. We hope to finally hear the much-anticipated testimony of Hanalei Aipoalani, the author of the Cultural Impact Assessment for this project. Unfortunately, he has not been available to testify at previous hearings. We may also hear again from Project Manager for this proposal, Arick Yanagihara, and for the first time from their consultant, Aunty Roberta Ulu Searle.
The Land Use Commission is expected to make a decision in this case in the Spring.
Relatedly, the City’s Planning Commission is expected to hear public testimony on the Wai‘anae Sustainable Communities Plan on February 16, 2011 in Kapolei. A purple industrial spot was inserted on the land use map in this plan specifically to allow for Tropic Land’s industrial park, even though there was never community consensus for the project. People concerned about the loss of agricultural lands in Wai‘anae should attend the Planning Commission’s hearing on the Wai‘anae Sustainable Communities Plan — because if approved, this purple spot would be on the community’s plan for a very long time, whether or not Tropic Land is granted permission to build.
“Community comes to the defense of Lualualei Valley’s ag land,” The Hawaii Independent, January 11, 2010.