Director must follow community development plans
It was recently announced that Hawaii County Planning Director Bobby Jean Leithead Todd has been replaced by Duane Kanuha. Kanuha served as the county’s deputy planning director from 1976 to 1984, and planning director from 1988 to 1990. This was many years prior to adoption of the 2005 County General Plan that created the revolutionary Community Development Plan Program.
What makes the CDP Program “revolutionary” is that it put into place the structure serving to decentralize decision-making away from an islandwide, top-down system historically in practice within ourcounty’s administrative and legislative branches . The CDP Program consists of Community Development Plans, each with the authority to establish legal policies to address unique needs and priorities within “specific geographical areas.” The program also provides each CDP with a system for an ongoing proactive, community-based stewardship of the plan’s implementation and update.
The Kona Community Development Plan was drafted and unanimously adopted by the Hawaii County Council, by ordinance, in 2008. But since then there have been concerns that the county Planning Department has neglected to fully acknowledge the regional spirit and the legal significance of our community-based planning program. A recent decision handed down by the Third Circuit Count highlighted some of these concerns, ruling in part that the planning director acted in violation of the Kona Community Development Plan and failed to uphold the county’s duty to protect natural resources.
As we wish our new planning director well, we also need to encourage him to become acquainted with policies adopted as part of each of the island’s Community Development Plans and to make it a priority to incorporate reforms within the Planning Department needed to actively regionalize island planning for which our CDP communities worked diligently to achieve.