comscore Ho'opili housing project is a model for wise land-use planning | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Editorial | Island Voices

Ho’opili housing project is a model for wise land-use planning


Beginning in October 2005, West Oahu community leaders got involved in shaping the concept for a new kind of sustainable island community in West Oahu where people would really want to live. They worked with D.R. Horton-Schuler Division to help plan the project, which would also fit into the master plan for Ewa.

The plan for Ho‘opili — which means "coming together" in Hawaiian — is a walkable, sustainable community that seeks to improve the quality of people’s lives by allowing them to live, learn, work, shop and play — all right in their own community. It’s a new approach to urban planning in Hawaii, but one that builds on the traditional local concept of community, where people get to know their neighbors and enjoy a sense of place.

Actual building is expected to start in 2012 — followed by as much as a two-decade-long build-out — providing ample time to ensure Ho‘opili becomes a model community that’s good for its residents, good for Oahu and good for the environment.

The premise behind the master plan for Ho‘opili is that the built environment — streets, sidewalks, buildings and other infrastructure — can affect human health in positive ways. We believe it is possible to improve public health in Hawaii through conscientious community planning and design.

To make Ho‘opili a healthy place to live, we’ve master-planned it with pedestrian and bike paths that wind throughout the 1,554-acre community and connect homes with shops, restaurants, schools, parks and transportation. The result is neighborhoods where most daily activities are close by, usually no more than a 10-minute walk.

Obviously, people who live in places where driving is the only feasible option for commuting and running errands get less exercise and are less healthy, while people who live in walkable communities are more active and healthier. This is particularly relevant in Hawaii, where the climate is conducive to physical fitness.

Understanding the importance that food plays in health and that agriculture plays in West Oahu’s economy and history, Ho‘opili will provide the opportunity to farm over 15 percent of the developable acreage. That translates into 159 acres of land set aside for commercial farming, community gardens, and residential gardens set around individual homes and duplexes. Neighborhood sites for local farmers’ markets will increase access to healthy food and add to the feeling of community cohesion.

Another measure of a healthy community lifestyle is the emphasis on green living, which starts with sustainable development. In the case of Ho‘opili, all of the homes — whether single-family, residential condominiums, apartments, senior housing, or "Live-Work" townhomes — will be designed and constructed to save energy, water and natural resources. Single-family homes will be photovoltaic- and electric car-ready; inside, they will include ENERGY STAR appliances, energy-efficient lighting, and water-saving features. A site-wide recycling program and an integrated solar farm that will enable Ho‘opili to produce clean energy for the state are also planned.

Ho‘opili also addresses the need for modestly priced housing on Oahu, 30 percent of which will be affordable according to City and County guidelines. Ho‘opili will also provide a more affordable place to live by keeping both housing and transportation costs low, which allows people to put more money into health care, education, healthy food and other items that improve their lives.

By all measures, Ho‘opili represents a model community by and for Hawaii residents. But even more than that, it creates a legacy of wise planning and thoughtful land use on Oahu for generations to come.


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