Kailua residents — and rightly so — are involved in the planning for the future of their community. There are many business groups and community organizations that take an active role in both discussing planning concepts and reviewing specific proposals.
When Kaneohe Ranch embarked on long-range planning for its Kailua lands, it began by reviewing the many existing plans and reports that were created and compiled by community members and government agencies. Some of these included the 2000 Ko‘olaupoko Sustainable Communities Plan, The Kailua Vision Team Plan, Kailua “The Beach Town” plan, Kawainui Marsh Master Plan, Kailua Waterways Improvement Plan, The Kailua Urban Design Force Design Guidelines and the Hamakua Marsh Ecosystem Restoration and Community Development Project.
The following account of planning efforts involving Ward & Associates, Group 70 and Charlier & Associates, expresses the feelings, thoughts and desires of most of the residents who participated in the planning process in 2004. (Kaneohe Ranch is mindful of the fact that economic, environmental and social changes continually occur and considers these plans as “drafts,” which can, and likely will, be changed as conditions change.)
With the expiration of commercial ground leases in downtown Kailua, and the subsequent returning of properties back to Kaneohe Ranch for redevelopment, 2004 was an appropriate time to begin a community-wide planning process. The process focused on Kaneohe Ranch’s 44 acres of commercial land in downtown Kailua, seven acres of residential land on Kailua Road, the seven-acre Hamakua Triangle property and 65 acres on the Hamakua Hillside.
Kaneohe Ranch retained Group 70 International, a leading urban design and architecture firm based in Honolulu, to facilitate this process. It began with a survey, prepared by Ward & Associates, and mailed to all residents in the Kailua 96734 zip code area. There were 2,832 responses to this extensive questionnaire, which provided great insight and direction from the residents of Kailua for the future of the town. Following the survey Group 70 held five community-wide public meetings, each 4 to 5 hours long. In addition many other meetings were held with various community groups and input was drawn from prior relevant studies.
The key themes developed from the collaborative process with the public were:
- Lifestyle – Characterization of desired lifestyles for various groups.
- Major Themes – Major themes that support these lifestyles.
- Configuration – Physical improvements that characterize the major themes.
- Supporting Themes – Detail themes that are not quite major themes but that are important in achieving the desired lifestyle.
- Details – Signature items that define the sense of place. These may be built features, natural resources, cultural icons, and other defining elements.
Charlier & Associates
In conjunction with the community plan prepared by Group 70, Kaneohe Ranch retained Charlier & Associates, a planning firm that specializes in pedestrian planning.
Charlier performed an extensive analysis of downtown Kailua with the aim to make it more walkable and friendly to pedestrians. They studied sidewalks, crosswalks, block lengths, walls, fences, bicycle accommodation, lighting, shade, parking and many other matters that affect the pedestrian experience.
Charlier’s proposal included:
- As redevelopment occurs, create new lanes and drive aisles to breakup the existing “super-block” so that the length between blocks is 250 +/- feet at most.
- Internal streets should be low-speed vehicular streets with generous sidewalks, frequent pedestrian crossings and, if appropriate, on-street parking.
- Work with the City & County of Honolulu to ensure there are safe pedestrian crossings along all streets at intervals between 250 to 330 feet.
- To the extent possible avoid one-way streets.
- Include provisions for bicycle parking in all future plans.
- Where possible, on-street parking should be laid out in a diagonal configuration.
- Use a “park once” concept.
- Use awnings, arcades and trees to create more shade.
Downtown Kailua has the potential to become a truly pedestrian-friendly town, which will reduce driving and improve the shopping experience for all of us. Kaneohe Ranch is committed to implementing this plan, which can be seen in its entirety on the pdf below.
It is important to remember that the planning process and resulting strategy represents a point in the physical planning process. It is a dynamic plan, intended to identify possible actions within a 15- to 20-year planning period, which will undergo constant refinement based on market opportunities and continued public discussion.