Ho’opili Development Project: An Irresponsible Use of Hawaii’s Best Farmlands

Developer D.R. Horton-Shuler Homes is calling the planned Ho’opili housing community “a walkable, sustainable community”.  But the very plan to build a community on the site of the world’s best farmland is in itself in direct conflict with the notion of sustainability.

In order to build the 12, 000 home Ho’opili community, the ‘Ewa area farms currently operating there will be shut down and the prime A and B agricultural soils – deemed by Dr. Goro Uehara, Professor of Soil Science at the University of Hawaii, as the best in the world – will be excavated.

In a state where less than 15% of the food we consume is actually produced here, and at a time when the cost of oil continues to increase the cost of imported goods, working toward sustainability should mean cultivating and supporting local agriculture, not covering our best farmlands with more housing developments.

D.R. Horton-Shuler is touting the “thoughtful planning” they claim has gone into Ho’opili.  But their lack of concern for valuable farmlands, traffic, and the future of the island of Oahu is anything but thoughtful.

Developers claim the project will create jobs.  But for whom?  There is no guarantee that these jobs will be given to local people.

They also say that they are providing transportation alternatives and promoting a car-free lifestyle.  But this notion relies, in large part, on the controversial rail – that has yet to receive full funding approval and is now tied up in a federal lawsuit – being completed.  Even if the rail is constructed on time, those commuters who choose not to take it will contribute to the already atrocious traffic conditions on a freeway that has reached its carrying capacity.

Another piece of D.R. Horton-Shuler’s “thoughtful” planning is their claim to creating needed housing at all price ranges.  Have they thought about who will buy these homes?  Will priority be given to locals?  Or is it just a matter of money?  If the latter is the case, it seems that this housing may easily be sold to non-locals, consequently increasing the population on an already overpopulated island.  There is no shortage of people here in Hawaii, but housing, food, jobs and land are limited.  Has D.R. Horton-Shuler thought of that?

The Ho’opili website also lists “Preserve Open Spaces”, “Use Resources Wisely”, and “Integrate Agriculture” as pieces of the thoughtful planning.  Here’s a thought: A much more sustainable alternative to following through on this massive, irresponsible development project, removing agricultural land, and adding to traffic and population woes would be to protect the lands, support local agriculture and put money and research into the development of alternative energy sources that will ensure a much more sustainable future for our islands.

It seems the only thoughtful planning that has gone into Ho’opili has been thinking of how to market the irresponsible plans of a money-hungry development company as a “sustainable community”.