On Thursday, Mayor Kirk Caldwell will sign the city’s new Age-Friendly Honolulu ordinance into law and AARP Hawai‘i is celebrating.
The law formally commits the city to following age-friendly principles in everything it does.
That means parks will be for adults as well as children with walking and bicycling paths, and exercise areas and equipment for adults as well as playgrounds for children.
Streets won’t be just for cars — they’ll be designed so that children and adults on bicycles or on foot can share the road safely. Crosswalks will be examined to make sure they are well-lit, accessible and timing lights allow for everyone from kupuna to keiki to walk across the street safely.
Under the law, developers looking for city approval will need to show how their projects benefit people of all generations and abilities. This is especially important as the city and state develop areas around transit stations. It means transit-oriented developments should include senior daycare as well as childcare so that caregivers and parents can commute on the train and have a place where their loved ones will be cared for while they go to work.
The law states that the city is committed to “encourage and advance the development of programs, services, facilities and projects that are planned, designed, operated and maintained to best accommodate users of all ages and abilities, especially the elderly.”
“If you design something better for older adults, you design a city that’s better for all ages,” said Christy Nishita, a researcher and gerontologist at the University of Hawaii Center on Aging.
Nishita, who is also a consultant to the city on age-friendly principles, said designing buildings and sidewalks so that people in wheelchairs can have easy access also means moms with strollers have access.
Bill 54 CD2 formally creates an age-friendly program in the city’s Department of Community Services and requires every department to review its services and projects to make sure that they are age-friendly.
The city is already incorporating age-friendly principles into much of what it does since Honolulu joined the World Health Organization’s Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities and Communities and AARP’s National Network of Age-Friendly Communities in 2013, which approved its Age-Friendly Action Plan.
Caldwell’s signature on the Age-Friendly Honolulu bill ensures the city’s commitment toward building a more livable Honolulu for all generations will continue even after he and current city coun cilmembers have left office.
“(Age-friendly principles) will be part of the general plan and every plan that the city has,” said Councilmember Ann Kobayashi, who introduced the legislation. “It will ensure that when things are done, it will be age-friendly.”
Caldwell said he hopes the law will entice kupuna to get outdoors and the city’s parks will become intergenerational gathering places with accessible paths, exercise areas and shade trees so grandparents can take their grandkids for walks and playtime.
“How do we create a community where everyone can live in a healthy and resilient way? How do you create healthy aging? How do we do more with everyone in mind?”
These are questions, Caldwell said, every city department will now ask when planning and reviewing its programs, facilities and projects.
The answers will help create a better and more livable Honolulu and that’s something to really celebrate.
Join AARP Hawai‘i, the mayor and city council; enjoy pupus and soft drinks and learn more about Age-Friendly Honolulu
>> Where: Honolulu Hale
>> When: 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday
>> Cost: Free
>> Note: Free parking available in the Frank F. Fasi Municipal Parking lot after 4:30 p.m.