All posts by HSCA Staff

La’akea Community

La’akea Community

laakea community in hawaii La’akea Community formed in 2005 when a group of six people purchased La’akea Gardens. Our vision as an intentional community is to: steward the land at La’akea, continue the mission of teaching permaculture at La’akea while expanding into others aspects of sustainability such as personal and relationship growth, communication techniques, emotional processing, healing arts and creative arts.

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Building dept. FAQ

Building Dept. FAQ

For building permit process, this is a basic reference to be familiar with, and outlines the normal process/hoops for building permits, including what department(s) are responsible for what elements:
http://www.hawaii-county.com/permits/Bldg%20permit%20FAQs.pdf
Engineers/architects are currently able to take direct responsibility for at least one aspect of some kinds of buildings (excerpt from above document):
“The design, engineering, construction and installation of pre-engineered roof trusses are the responsibility of Structural engineers or Architects.
Pre-engineered roof truss drawings are not required to be submitted with a building permit application as of March 1, 2010.
Instead, the architect or structural engineer of record accepts responsibility and liability for engineering, construction and installation of pre-engineered roof trusses in a letter to the building division.
This change, which was suggested by design professionals and agreed to by the County, keeps the design/construction process moving forward, allowing for the solicitation of bids, hiring of a contractor and time to shop for pre-engineered roof truss drawings appropriate to the project.”
cheers,
John S.
John Schinnerer – M.A., Whole Systems Design
——————————————–
– Eco-Living –
Whole Systems Design Services
People – Place – Learning – Integration

For building permit process, this is a basic reference to be familiar with, and outlines the normal process/hoops for building permits, including what department(s) are responsible for what elements:
http://www.hawaii-county.com/permits/Bldg%20permit%20FAQs.pdf
Engineers/architects are currently able to take direct responsibility for at least one aspect of some kinds of buildings (excerpt from above document):
“The design, engineering, construction and installation of pre-engineered roof trusses are the responsibility of Structural engineers or Architects.Pre-engineered roof truss drawings are not required to be submitted with a building permit application as of March 1, 2010.Instead, the architect or structural engineer of record accepts responsibility and liability for engineering, construction and installation of pre-engineered roof trusses in a letter to the building division.This change, which was suggested by design professionals and agreed to by the County, keeps the design/construction process moving forward, allowing for the solicitation of bids, hiring of a contractor and time to shop for pre-engineered roof truss drawings appropriate to the project.”
cheers,John S.
— John Schinnerer – M.A., Whole Systems Design——————————————— Eco-Living -Whole Systems Design ServicesPeople – Place – Learning – Integration

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Who decides on permits and laws?

Who decides on permits and laws?

County planning commission has power to approve or deny specific special use permits, however they don’t make laws.
Legislators make (or change) laws.
So County council persons – and their staff, both official and unofficial – are key players.
Also state legislators (state representatives and senators and their staff, both official and unofficial), for working at the state level.

John S

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Department of Health-What laws to propose?

Minutes 11/12/2010 Department of Health.

Though the goals of this department are laudable, their requirements and regulations are very difficult for small eco-friendly communities to pass. What type of law should we propose to either gain exemptions for eco-friendly communities or an actual law change for experimental sustainable communities?
Shall we go through all the laws and change them bits at a time?
Or shall we propose a variance law that exempts us from these laws in general.
John:
* As most of you realize there are fundamental problems with prescriptive, enforcement based approaches to regulation. End result is usually “everything not specifically allowed is not allowed.” If it’s not in the code, it’s illegal by default, and the code only describes very (too!) specifically what is allowed, and is unreasonably difficult to change.
One alternative would be describing *processes* to be used to determine if something is OK. Not “material X or method Y is OK,” but “here are processes we will use to determine if material X or method Y is OK.”
Another related/complementary alternative would be describing parameters or guidelines to be used to determine if something is OK, such as “the number of people who can live in a given dwelling depends on X, Y and Z” (where X, Y and Z are parameters/guidelines, not specific numbers or absolute conditions).
Both of these would need to be localized in both creation and application (rather than imported from afar as the building code is, or a legacy of colonial occupation as most of the zoning code is).
Scott: He thinks we will not get laws changed for exemptions, but instead we can get laws passed to make legal specifically what we want to do.  Look at what the state is doing on composting toilets in the parks, and use that as an example of what we want to do.
Make sure we have a clearly defined image of what we want to get approved.
Question to ponder: How shall we define exactly what we are doing, and yet leave room for new ideas?
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County Report on community asset building

Government report on community asset building

11/28
from John Schinnerer:
In this report on community asset building, from an ongoing project to address poverty, quality of life etc. on the island, there are countless comments from participants about problems with zoning and building codes making it impossible for people/families to live affordably, and making it difficult to have or maintain the kinds of communities that may still exist now or existed previously.
http://www.hawaiicountyrandd.net/hcrc/island-initiatives/hoowaiwai/Ohana%20Dialogue%20Draft%20Report.pdf/view
See also the other reports, and toolkit for “discovering community power”:
http://www.hawaiicountyrandd.net/hcrc/island-initiatives/hoowaiwai
All these people are potential HSCA allies. In basic terms of zoning and building they want significant change ASAP.
aloha,
John Schinnerer – M.A., Whole Systems Design
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HSCA Minutes on Neighbors

HSCA Minutes on Neighbors

10/29/2010

We suggest that if a neighbor complains, that neighbor should also be checked to be sure that they are in compliance. Neighbor Reciprocity.  Ask for the police or someone else to to come and mediate, before the complaint is dealt with in court.

We should address this with Jeff at the planning dept. and other county officials.

11/24/2010

Neighbor Complaints. If a neighbor complains, that neighbor should also be checked to be sure that they are in compliance with zoning issues to avoid spurious claims. Known as “Neighbor Reciprocity”.  Ask for the police or County Policing Officer to to come and mediate, before the complaint is dealt with in court. Can we push for this in legislation?

Karin:  She learned we went after the county with ignorance and an adversarial attitude, that made it hard.  She went right to the Gov officials and talked to them.  Don’t look at it as “us against them”.   Also it is very important to connect with any neighbors who might be impacted and complain.

Scott:  wants to make a regulation that says: You can’t file a complaint unless you live here, and you can’t file a complaint unless you have been here one year.  this would be a legislative change.  He spends a lot of time just being a referee between neighbors.

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Building code

From HSCA Minutes on Building code:

if in the future there is the need to create code to permit alternative construction, look on indigenous architecture subsection, like lava rock, thatching, etc.  Could ask for an exception under section 15-1

recommended to Graham:  Search the Revised statutes for “recycling”. Building materials are a big problem.  Seattle has great ordinances about what has to be done.  Search for the “Zero Waste Plan”

We advocate that generally, the Gov should make minimum guidelines and then have a disclaimer/waiver or variances that they are not responsible for individual choices.  Disclosure could be in the deeds

We need exemptions from building codes, and the need to have architects sign off.

Architects: ask Jeff Darrow more about if the legislation allowing architects to sign off on alternative structures has been passed?

If we go for temporary structures, the regulations are looser.  If we want to make permanent structures, things are tighter.  Selling point is safety, and health of the buildings.  An architech can sign off on odd houses and he takes the safety liability.  Base it on the Ag tourism and the 2050 laws as much as possible.

What types of buildings are covered by “Type 2” Housing?

Answer: Scott recommends making legal Type 2 housing, similar to Type K in Sonoma. They have some guidelines, having to do with health and safety.

If something like the New Mexico law is deemed as the best approach – what do you think needs to be done with it to make it stronger?

New laws:  need to have a clearly defined limitations about what is permissible.  You want to have a strong definition of exactly what you want to do, so the inspectors can know what they are looking for., and how to make sure you are doing it

Always refer to what other people are already doing as a precedent.

John’s notes:

* I would be curious to see some real live examples of approved “experimental site” applications from NM, and perhaps the details in practice would for example mitigate Scott’s concerns about the general nature of the legislation itself.

* Hawaiian homelands may be an already existing “experimental site” opportunity (more after I finish some legal inquiries). It is also a demographic missing from HSCA thus far.

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Sustainability Success Stories

Sustainability Success Stories

We have uncovered many inspiring, and useful, stories of people and communities successfully implementing various ideas around sustainable living and permaculture. Many of the posts here will include useful links and other resources. If you have a post to share, please register here and then contact us to request authoring status on our blog.

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