This is part three of a series of articles I’ve been drafting for my students in Hawai’i Politics and other courses. Part one deals with rail and other issues and part two with race and the Democratic machine. This third installment looks at the psychology of development.
Plans for a military research center at the University of Hawaiʻi underscore the reality highlighted by the approval of the Koa Ridge and Hoʻopili zoning changes: that Hawaiʻi is really a state of development. The driving force in Hawaiʻi is the consensus between developers and unions epitomized by Pacific Resource Partnership, the SuperPAC that crushed any effective opposition to establishment candidates in 2012. That the military lab will be named for the late Senator Daniel Inouye shows the status with which he presided over this consensus and his position as the “King of Hawaiʻi,” as the Wall Street Journal called him.
With the nomination of Carleton Ching for head of the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), which manages the “ceded lands” (the Kingdom Crown and Government lands), this “state of development” is coming into focus. Ching spent years trying to weaken environmental protections as a part-time lobbyist for Castle and Cooke. All the outrage against Ching’s nomination (even the Star-Advertiser came out against it) is gratifying, but may overlook the fact that it’s business as usual. Ching may actually only stand out because of the contrast with his predecessor Bill Aila. He is nevertheless an extremely pro-development choice. According to Ehu Kekahu Cardwell:
As President of the Land Use Research Foundation, a pro-development lobby group, Carleton Ching advocated
– To weaken protections for public access to beaches.
– To weaken protections for traditional and customary practices.
– To remove permit requirements that protect shorelines from development.
– Against laws to address climate change.
– For the Public Lands Development Corporation (PLDC)
Carleton Ching Confirmation Hearings
WHEN – Wednesday, March 11th 10AM
WHERE – Hawai`i Capitol – Room 229
Canʻt Attend? – Submit Your Opposition Testimony Today!
Submit Your Opposition Online Testimony Here –http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/measure_indiv.aspx…
Or By Email Here – WTLTestimony@capitol.hawaii.gov
All written testimony should indicate whether you will be testifying in person
Between Koa Ridge, Hoʻopili, the plans to sell pineapple lands in Wahiawa and Envision Laie, we are heading toward having no open space on Oʻahu along any of the major highways. Add Ching to the mix and even the mauka protected forest areas arenʻt safe. One can imagine that wealthy people would like mountain retreats along the lines of Tantalus or Palehua in the Waianae mountains (see the cover of Israel’s Kamakawiwoʻole’s Facing Future – thatʻs Jon DeMelloʻs Palehua house at 3000 feet, six miles above Makakilo).
How much more urban can Oʻahu get? You might think of Hong Kong or Japan, but even they have large protected forest areas. With Chingʻs nomination thereʻs the potential to erode at that. Within the economic logic of developers, it’s a no-brainer to go on building high-yield developments until land runs out. We need to question this “logic” and show that its really a kind of psychosis.