Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The legislature is creating another bureaucracy to be administered by the Office of Planning

If passed, SB2833 will reify the Hawaii 2050 Sustainability Plan and grant the broadest of powers to the 15 member newly created sustainability council.

As I discussed here, there appears to be no discussion on the fate of the Hawaii State Planning Act, Chapter 226, HRS, by which the Hawaii State Plan and county general plans were created. The Planning Act is flexible enough so that it can include everything that the 2050 Sustainability plan does, but with a process the community understands and has been using for the past 3 plus decades. The 2050 Plan should be used as guidance for counties and the state when revising their plans under the existing process.

Aside from the bill’s procedural issues, the objective of the bill is questionable. The bill's introductory language provides that the purpose of the bill is to cure a “steady deterioration of public infrastructure; lack of affordable housing; continued reliance on a service-based economy; vulnerability of Hawaii in a volatile global energy market; possible interruptions in travel and critical food supplies; threats to fragile island ecosystems; and ever increasing numbers of residents and visitors.” It appears that the past is burdening the future with the outcome of its poor planning and largess. What the bill is more apt at doing is ensuring that Hawaii is kept in a state of stasis, preserved in time for an aging generation living off the nostalgia of the past.

For the future, this new proposal creates one more bureaucracy that will hamstring future government leaders with more red tape. It is not unlikely that this council will morph into a body that has final say on land use in Hawaii for future landowners. Unfortunately, the bill provides no incentives, encouragement, or rewards for private persons to become more sustainable. What started as a wonderful idea, the 2050 Plan has become another command and control regulation.

The bill was introduced by Senator Kokobun and has 20 co-sponsors. It is scheduled to be heard before the state Senate's committee on Ways and Means on Thursday, February 21, at 9:30 a.m. in conference room 221.

Update: Testimony will only be taken in written form -- the committee will not accept oral testimony. Written testimony can be e-mailed to testimony@capitol.hawaii.gov or faxed to 1-800-586-6659 toll free.

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