Category Archives: Working With the System

Approaching the existing governmental bodies and laws, to effectively and cooperatively bring change.

Who approves special permits?

Minutes 11/12  Who approves special permits?

Scott: Even though the Planning Department may not agree and recommends denial of your Special Permit the ultimate decision belongs to the Planning Commission.  Community support, sound arguments and comparative examples will help in getting their approval.   Keep in mind that the mood of the Planning Commission can vary from one term to the next because members change. They might approve you to have 10 cabins, but the Building Dept is what approves how you can do the building and what to make them out of.


Building Department Changes

Minutes 11/12/2010 Building Department Changes

Building Division (Power, water, sewer, buildings)
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.


Is the government trying to protect people too much?  For example, Dept of Health does not recognize water catchment as a viable water source, but this is the usual source of water in our area.   Gov should make minimum guidelines and then have a disclaimer that they are not responsible for individual choices.

The building division might be a more difficult group to work with.  We cannot go to the county clerks.   they have a lot of vacancies.


County Role in Legislation

Minutes 11/12/2010  County Role in Legislation

What role if any can the County play to help us get legislation passed?

Answer: none.. I think there are folks within the County who are willing to answer your questions and provide some guidance.  But the bulk of the work for legislative change has to be done by those who will benefit from the change.  Of course this does not negate the possibility of the County proposing its own legislative changes.


Health Dept Ideas

Minutes 11/5/2010 Health Dept Ideas

Jeff at County said that the HRS statute covers many of the issues we are working for. However, sewage and health are state issues which means we will have to lobby the state government directly.
Graham wants to talk to State Senator Russell Kokobun after meeting with Alex and Scott, regarding:
o    Notify him about our alliance
o   Update him on our communications with Abercrombie
o   Specific advice regarding Health Department (we NEED composting toilets/gray water?)

Effective approaches to Changing Laws

Effective approaches to Changing Laws

The state does not do the definitions of the zoning, that is done on the county level.

Important to include in passing anything new:  Reasonable efforts must be being made by the sustainable community for larger community participation and neighbor approval.  If neighbors complain, they have to have specific grounds for that. But once your project is approved and legal, their complaints do not endanger you.

What do we want to change that is not covered by law? Main problems are around zoning, building codes, health department codes, but not in the farming practices.  Grey water, composting toilets, non-ag social activities, communal living, alternative building materials and design, building uses, having more than one residence on a TMK, over 15 acres for a special use permit.


Draft definition of a potential zoning type

Draft definition of a potential zoning type

*Definition of Sustainable Community:* “A multi-family, land based,
agricultural organization involved with ecological and sustainable
practices, education and research in areas of farming, gardening,
renewable energy, alternative building, recycling, local self reliance,
waste management, co-operative social structures and cultural activities.”
This is to me a draft definition of a potential zoning type/classification, and heads toward the same outcome – legislation establishing a new type of zoning – that was done by OUR Ecovillage et al in British Columbia.
Addresses also this…
…Main problems are
around zoning, building codes, health department codes, but not in the
farming practices. Grey water, composting toilets, non-ag social
activities, communal living, alternative building materials and design,
building uses, having more than one residence on a TMK, over 15 acres
for a special use permit.
…multiple uses and multiple alternatives within one zoning category, which is what we need a variety of.
With a NM style approach, the burden is on each project/group each time to get individual approval for specifically what they want to do. Fighting the same battles over and over seems a distinct possibility.
New (or amended) zoning categories that address multiple needs at once means those zonings are “ready to use” – instead of having to fight for the same exceptions over and over, they’re in the zoning code.
John S.

County Committee: Sustainable Action

From Minutes: Committee in charge of Sustainable Action, excerpts from  code


We discovered in the HI county code that there should be a committee in charge of Sustainable Action, but it does not yet exist.   This is an ordinance that already exists, so could be a really great way for us to work with the government.   If we can get someone on this committee, Mojo may be interested.   We can encourage this committee to be created.  see below for the text of the code.

Graham invited us read Article 8 (pages 2-11,12,13) in the County Code:

Article 8. Department of Research and Development.*

Section 2-36. Purpose.

It is the purpose of this article to provide the necessary leadership to anchor the department of research

and development’s planning, policies, goals and actions in sustainable economic, societal and environmental

practices. The adoption and employment of sustainable practices as a framework for business as usual through

systematic change processes which shall result in concrete outcomes, changes in multiple functions or portions

of the system, and institutionalization of these changes on an on-going basis to address sustainable agriculture;

alternative energy, fuel and waste management; ecological education, business development, green housing

and buildings; and protection of biodiversity.

(2007, Ord. No. 07-161, sec. 1.) 2-36

Section 2-37. Sustainability Action Committee.

(a) There shall be designated within the department of research and development a sustainability action

committee, which shall sit in an advisory capacity to the director of the department on matters that

support a sustainable economy, society and environment and are within the department’s purview to

include energy, business development, agriculture, tourism, film, community development, and other

related subjects. The department shall provide support service to the committee.

(b) Membership and term. The committee shall be composed of five members, who shall be appointed by

the mayor and confirmed by the council. Any member of the committee may be removed upon

recommendation of the mayor and the approval of the council. Members shall serve a term of five years.

However, for the initial appointment of members, one member shall be appointed for a term of one year,

one for a term of two years, one for a term of three years, one for a term of four years and one for a term

of five years. In addition to the five members, the director or the director’s designee will serve as an

ex-officio member of the committee.

*Editor’s Note: Article 8 was repealed in its entirety and replaced by Ordinance 07-161.

(c) The members shall be broadly representative of the County and shall be selected on the basis of their

knowledge, expertise, proven innovative and technical skills and ability to network and source cutting

edge technologies, with interests in one or more of the following areas: agriculture, business, energy,

tourism, community, economics, planning, architectural design, community facilitation and Hawaiian


(d) No member shall be eligible for a second appointment to the committee prior to the expiration of two

years, provided that members appointed for a term of one year or two years shall be eligible to succeed

themselves for an additional term.

(e) No member whose term has expired shall continue to serve on the commission, except that if no

successor has been appointed and confirmed, the member shall continue to serve for ninety days or until a

successor is appointed and confirmed, whichever comes first.

(f) Any vacancy occurring in the committee shall be filled for the unexpired term.

(g) Not more than a bare majority of the members shall belong to the same political party.

(h) Members shall receive no compensation but shall be reimbursed for necessary expenses incurred in the

performance of their duties. Necessary expenses maybe paid in advance as per diem allowance pursuant

to chapter 2, article 16 of the Hawai’i County Code.

(i) A chairperson shall be elected from its membership annually.

(j) The affirmative vote of a majority of those members present shall be necessary to make any action valid.

(k) The committee shall have the power to establish its rules of procedure necessary for the conduct of its

business, which rules shall contain the time and place of all regular meetings, and which shall specify that

a quorum shall be a majority of the members to which the committee is entitled.

(l) No person shall, by reason of occupation alone, be barred from serving as a member of this committee.

(m) The council shall act to confirm or reject any appointment made to the committee by the mayor within

forty-five days after receiving notice of the appointment from the mayor. If the council does not confirm

or reject any such appointment within forty-five days, the appointee shall be deemed to have been


(2007, Ord. No. 07-161, sec. 1.) 2-37

Section 2-37.1. Duties of the committee.

(a) The sustainability action committee shall make recommendations and support the department’s

integration of planning and implementation of sustainable principles in its work with communities,

businesses and other agencies.

(b) The sustainability action committee shall support and make recommendations to:

(1) Raise awareness of what the term sustainability represents and the guiding principles of


(2) Conduct environmental scans to assess current conditions as they relate to the guiding principles of


(3) Identify a vision for sustainability and recommend solutions; and

(4) Support the development of sustainability actions plans.

(c) The sustainability action committee shall support, monitor and comment on the department’s efforts to

effectuate sustainable planning, policies, programs, projects and operations.

(2007, Ord. No. 07-161, sec. 1.) 2-37.1

Section 2-37.2. Guidelines for committee recommendations.

(a) The sustainability action committee shall apply guiding principles of sustainability as a framework for

identification of issues, research and innovative actions. These principles shall include:

(1) Reduced dependence upon fossil fuels, extracted underground metals and minerals;

(2) Reduced dependence on chemicals and other manufactured substances that can accumulate in



2-13 SUPP. 5 (1-2008)

(3) Reduced dependence on activities that harm life-sustaining ecosystems; and

(4) Meeting the hierarchy of human needs fairly and efficiently.

(b) The sustainability action committee shall employ a “systems approach” to identify upstream root causes

and outcomes and shall recommend appropriate research, planning and implementation initiatives;

outcome measures and indicators; engagements and partnerships as may be necessary to guide the

department to innovative and successful sustainable models that effectuate the purpose of this article.

(c) The sustainability action committee shall consider the recommendations provided in the general plan, community development plan ordinances, community visioning processes and other agencies’ planning documents. Additionally, the committee shall seek innovative solutions, programs and initiatives based

upon sustainable precepts of native Hawaiian culture and other local, national and international resources to advance the purpose of this article and seek the necessary technical and other support required for

implementation by the department, other agencies and the community. The committee shall encourage

and participate in the internal and external network opportunities at the local, state, national and

international levels.

(2007, Ord. No. 07-161, sec. 1.)


County only interprets the State Laws

Minutes 10/14/2010 County only interprets the State Laws

The county can’t help us in lobbying the state people, but they can work with the state laws after they are passed and will make zoning codes.  They can only interpret the laws they are given by the state.  The county planning department is waiting for some eco laws so they can work with them.   HI sustainable 2050 law is what we need to refer to, as we are trying to implement it.

Scott said to narrow down our definitions and what we want, so we can perhaps avoid going through the whole lawmaking system to change things.

The term eco village implies having an actually village.  If you use the words “testing area” or “experimental” that implies that sometime the test will be over.  Need tight definitions of what we want.

Refer to existing codes as examples a lot when dealing with the government.

We have to communicate with them and be honest.

The commissioners are the ones who make the laws, they are the ones we need to reach.


Hawai`i 2050 Sustainability Plan Clarification

Hawai`i 2050 Sustainability Plan Clarification

From minutes:…”HI sustainable 2050 law is what we need to refer to, as we are
trying to implement it.”
The “Hawai`i 2050 Sustainability Plan” is not a law or ordinance. It is a “plan” created by a task force appointed by state legislation related to review of the Hawai’i State Plan – specifically, to create some new “guidelines” for implementing previously existing legislation. From the original bill:
“The plan shall be prepared to define and implement state goals, objectives, policies, and priority guidelines using sections 226-3 to 226-27, Hawaii Revised Statutes, as guiding principles.”
Full original bill:
HRS 226 is the complete State Planning Act.
Alex Frost can probably give specifics on what if any legal “teeth” (force of law) the 2050 plan has, if any.
John S