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Ho'opili farming initiative is a myth

By Kioni Dudley


In a remarkable editorial on Nov. 2, the Star-Advertiser declared that developer D.R. Horton's plan for urban agriculture at their controversial Ho‘opili project did not pass scrutiny ("Ho‘opili ag conviction falls flat," Our View, Star-Advertiser).

This will explain more.

Before its recent return to the Land Use Commission to get its land reclassified from ag to urban for the Ho‘opili project, Horton needed to counter the hard realities that the 1,525 acres of prime farmland it would take for the project are the highest-producing farmland in the state, that the land currently produces a whopping 30 percent of all the fresh local produce we eat, and that the day will come when the people of Hawaii will need that farmland to survive.

To do this, it concocted the "Ho‘opili Urban Agricultural Initiative," a marvelously imaginative Oz with "civic farms" for "commercial farming," eight acres of "community gardens" and 84 acres of small "steward farms."

The Urban Ag Initiative is a fanciful construct of words that resembles reality about as much as the yellow brick road. Horton has brazenly presented it to the public with maps and diagrams, and hired Nalo Farms' Dean Okimoto as poster boy to sell the myth as truth. Their maps incontrovertibly establish the falsehood.

The original Ho‘opili master plan map identifies a number of large light-green "open space/buffer" areas. Checking the GPS map, one finds that these are almost all gulches, gullies and hillsides — junk lands that the current farmer doesn't use at all. In its new Urban Agriculture Initiative map, however, these same gulches, gullies and hillsides are designated as the 159 acres available for lease as "commercial farms."

The second feature of the Urban Ag Initiative is eight acres of community gardens. These are the only things that seem to be real.

The most innovative facet of Horton's new plan is its 84 acres of "steward farms." "Steward" is a Biblical concept — the good steward caring for the lands of his master, reaping profits for him while administering his farm with justice. Horton's write-up adds a local flavor: It "captures the best parts of old Hawaii where families grew their own fruits and vegetables, either to eat themselves or to share."

Steward farms are "for-profit farming operations, on properties with agriculture-friendly covenants, where owners can produce their own food, share with neighbors, or even offer excess food produced to the general marketplace for sale."

The concept evokes pictures of as many as 84 farm-homes with an acre or more of additional property, or 42 homes with two additional acres each.

In a stunning revelation before the commission recently, however, it was disclosed that the prototype steward farm is a 1,200 square foot house on a 5,000 square foot lot — an R-5 lot, the smallest lot allowed in a subdivision. The "farm" turns out to be the same puny backyard and side slivers of land that one finds in any R-5 homesite, except that, instead of planting shrubs, these owners will plant "edible landscapes in order to enjoy the productive and economic value of their own land" — if they choose to. The "professionally managed farm services" that were to "support the farming operations" turn out to be landscape gardeners one might hire to care for the yard. And the special 84 acres of farmland all seem to have completely disappeared, absorbed into a multitude of R-5 house lots.

Again, D.R. Horton gets caught with its plants down. There are no real "commercial farms" in this project, nor any real steward farms. There is plenty of deceit.

They call it Ho‘opili, the gathering place. We call it Ho‘o-pilikia — deep trouble for all of us.

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Kalli wrote:
Kioni is absolutely correct. This is a public relations ploy by DR Horton to get the permits to build over 11,000 homes and add over 30,000 people to the all ready crowded area. They have bought off all the local politicians except for Rep. Rida Cabinilla. Take a look at Tim Tuckers island voices column on the broken promises from Haseko and you will have the same results for Hoopili. They will say anything to get permits and then who holds them accountable for living up to the fulfillment of these promises?
on November 14,2011 | 03:58AM
islandsun wrote:
Nobody wants this lousy project except the construction unions and related cronies. They would build their ugly cracker boxes and get out with the loot. Only short term jobs generated but the loss of good land will be forever.
on November 14,2011 | 04:46AM
soundofreason wrote:
This will create only temporary jobs at we will lose more sustainability FOREVER. This project cannot BE undone. They will literally dig out this PRIME soil before laying houses on this land. Have we learned nothing about being dependent on other sources from our foreign oil situation? Are we, as a State, just going to turn around and do the same with our food?
on November 14,2011 | 05:50AM
bender wrote:
How many bites at the apple does D.R. Horton get anyway. Can they keep coming back to the Land Use Commission over and over again until they get the answer they want. Kind of reminds me of a child who wants a toy but has been told no. Unfortunately the stakes are much higher than a child wanting a toy.
on November 14,2011 | 06:32AM
Anonymous wrote:
Hoopili is not the best agricultureal land on OaHu, Wailua and north shore have lots of good ag land. Keoni is perpetuating a myth too - to say the Hoopili ag land cannot be replaced is a bald-faced lie.
on November 14,2011 | 09:40AM
localguy wrote:
D.R. Horton needs to admit their failures and move on. Their "Hula Hoop" housing fiasco will never make it. The people have seen through all their shibai and decided it was not right, would not fit, would not make it. Master planned? NOT!!! Remember the design fiasco at the Waikele Shopping Center, Waipahu, HI. Take the freeway off ramp and you have to stop for oncoming traffic. Look to your right and you see not one but two sidewalks, side by side. Off ramp should have gone straight to the entrance to the shopping center. Next time you hear D.R. Horton or any other money making home builder on Hawaii say, "Master Planned" tell them "Trust but verify first." Developers only want to make money and move on, caring less for the mess they leave behind.
on November 14,2011 | 12:00PM
808behappy wrote:
The sidewalks are a bike path and a walking path. DR Horton was not the developer of Waikele Shopping Center nor the master develper for Waikele was AMFAC
on November 16,2011 | 12:58PM
cojef wrote:
Very coherent article which spells out the flawed Ho'opili plan. The Horton development, attempted to hoodwink the people into believing the "steward farms" were actual for real, when in reality a sham to influence the outcome of the decision or approval for the go ahead, even to the extent of getting a cohort to " sell the myth as truth". The prime agricultural land should in essence not be used for other than agriculture. Love this guy.
on November 14,2011 | 01:04PM
bikemom wrote:
". . . if they choose to." And how many people these days have time to do so? (Not many that I know.)
on November 14,2011 | 03:44PM
Anonymous wrote:
In Haseko's Application for rezoning, dated August 1992, they state: In section V Development Sequencing, page 52, that in years 4 to 6 - Marina Construction - they will construct Dry Stack boat storage, boat launching ramps, and other waterfront industrial facilities. In section VI Social Impacts, page 55 that the maritime complex will generate 1,500 jobs. Also that "This employment center will be important in reducing the number of residents having to commute to Honolulu for employment. In section VI Social Impacts, they state "Applicant will be providing the on-site infrastructure and will be contributing to the off-site infrastructure. The U.S Army Corps Permit to excavate the Marina was issued June 28, 1993. Approval was based upon the finding of no significant impact FONSI in the Final EIS. In the Final EIS: Haseko states that if the permit is granted: Page S--1, "The Marina would (plural of will) be constructed in conjunction with the Haseko Ewa Marina residential/commercial development. Page 1-1, "The Marina would be constructed by excavating 120 acres of waterways and berthing basins inland of the shoreline and would provide berthing for approximately 1,400 boats. This privately funded project would substantially satisfy the current public demand for recreational berths at no cost to the Federal or State Governments. The proposed marina would also serve as a major recreational ammenity for onshore development and would enhance the potential sales value of the development project." Haseko's promises were enacted in Ordinance 93-94. An ordinance is a law established by the City Council. Who is enforcing Ordinance 93-94 for the Ewa Marina Project? Why should we believe anything a developer says when they can simply not follow the law (ordinance) and claim poverty or change their plan later.
on November 16,2011 | 08:37PM
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