Kona ‘Charrette’ Applies Community Development Goals

honokohau

From the Mayors Office:

Honokohau Village, a 40-acre site that includes the new West Hawai`i Civic Center now under construction, is currently the focus of a new planning process in Kona.

The Village is the first major project to be planned under the award-winning Kona Community Development Plan, enacted into law in September of 2008. During a multi-day public “charrette,” residents and community leaders, developers and builders, County officials and staff will get to see how new guidelines apply to a real project in a real place.

“This is a whole new way of planning,” says Margaret K. Masunaga, deputy director, County of Hawai`i Planning Department. “That’s what makes this so exciting. We’ll use this experience to learn from and to teach one another,” says Masunaga, who lives in Captain Cook, South Kona, on a Kona coffee farm.

“By the time we’re finished, we’ll all know exactly what it means when we say ‘TOD’ and what the term implies for development in Kona,” says Masunaga.

TOD stands for Transit-Oriented Development, a neighborhood development approach encouraged under the new Kona CDP. The transit orientation comes into play when development can be designed to make the most of not only personal automobile travel, but also biking, walking, and transit. A TOD maximizes the advantages of mobility choices so that people representing a wide range of ages, abilities, and incomes can share the advantages of living, working, and playing in a compact, walkable community.

The Kona CDP provides much more than guidance for TODs. It sets goals for putting Kona-appropriate development in the right places, in the right scale for those places, and in the right relationships to surroundings. The upcoming Kona charrette will customize Village Design Guidelines described in general in the Kona CDP specifically for the 40-acre, transit-oriented site around the West Hawai`i Civic Center.

“So we’re not just talking about planning for transit, walking, biking, and cars,” says Masunuga. “We’ll also use the charrette to set standards for Honokohau Village that will include building setbacks and heights, the width of streets and sidewalks, the mix of building types, allowable density ranges, and the placement of public parks and other open space. The result will be a village design that encourages a true neighborhood atmosphere.”

Conventional planning approaches often complicate community-building goals. “In the not so distant past,” says Masunaga, “we planned subdivisions that were disconnected from one another and where people without access to automobiles were isolated. The disconnections affected all sorts of other things, including infrastructure investment, environmental protection, and public services like police and fire fighting. “

“One of my dreams,” Masunaga says, “is that my seven-year-old daughter will be able to safely walk just about anywhere she needs to go for her daily needs. That’s not possible in most places in Kona now.

“Mahalo nui loa to everyone who made the Kona CDP a reality. Now we can implement the policies to guide the Planning Department and the Planning Director on how we want Kona to look like in the next 20 years and into the next generation.”

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