The Island Can’t Handle All The Growth

More hotels = more visitors = more rental cars. How many more? BOB JONES PHOTO

More hotels = more visitors = more rental cars. How many more? BOB JONES PHOTO

My MidWeekcolleague Dan Boylan hit it smack dab on the kini popo when he recently wrote this:

“The island of Oahu possesses nowhere near the space to provide either single-family housing for all or unrestricted use of automobiles. Eventually, rail or no, regulation of automobile use lies in Oahu’s future.”

Regulation of single-family housing should lie in our future as well.

If the growth on Oahu in this decade should match — let alone exceed — growth of 2000-2010, Oahu would have 843,433 vehicles and no more road room.

Every time we get a new restaurant, supermarket or retail store, we get more trucks to supply them. Every new house and building breeds cement-and lumber-hauling vehicles.

The obvious solution would be to restrict the purchase of cars. You can’t buy one until you show that you’ve moved one off island.

Trouble is, a key part of our economy is the selling of cars and the lending of money to buyers.

Additional problem: I’ve been a strong rail supporter because mass transit off the streets is the obvious future for all large cities. But we pro-railers have to acknowledge that it won’t replace cars and trucks, and won’t end highway congestion because of the constant growth of people and their vehicles. It only will be a faster-than-road option for those such as Waikiki hotel workers or UH-Manoa students who come in from the Ewa end.

Most families need a car, even if they live adjacent to a rail station. They need to pick up young kids after school. They take children to soccer games and piano practice. They shop for groceries and are not going to lug all those bags on the train.

Some will exclusively use the train and we hope that’s enough to fill it most of the time.

Another obvious solution would be to quit approving all those housing projects that cover us with crackerboxes at inflated prices or mega-homes/condos for foreigners parking their money safely in the USA.

We also could say, “Sorry, but your children probably aren’t going to find housing here. They’ll have to live elsewhere.”

That’s Spock-like logic but an emotional dud. All I seem to hear is “We need more housing.” We covered the buildable hills and valleys and are working on the farmland. And what’s built is seldom “affordable.” Young buyers go deeply in hock. A typical family I know with two children is paying $5,000 a month for the mortgage alone on an average house in Hawaii Kai.

I’m at risk complaining. People will say, “You got yours, now you want to pull up the drawbridge.”

But really, how many people and vehicles can we handle in this little fortress surrounded by the Pacific moat?

What did in Carleton Ching for DLNR? Not simply his work background. It was inept selling of the nominee by Gov. David Ige, no apparent preparation by Ching for his Senate grilling, and the worst stage management of a nomination since Gov. John Waihee tried to appoint Sharon Himeno to the state Supreme Court in 1993.