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Ian Lind • Online daily from Kaaawa, Hawaii

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A reader comments on today’s Star-Advertiser

October 20th, 2014 · 7 Comments

This comment in from a reader:

Front page of today’s paper is a full two page wrap around of local weather art. Photo by AP. Nothing special about the photo. When I was in college I had one professor who used to say “if you can’t make it good make it big”

Another example of a one-paper town.

The front page photo shows a woman in a yellow raincoat. As the reader comments, there is nothing at all special about the photo. And I hadn’t even noticed the fine print attribution to Associated Press.

→ 7 CommentsTags: Media

Can urban density done right work for Honolulu?

October 20th, 2014 · 5 Comments

A Seattle Times columnist reviewed a book on urban design over the weekend, and it adds a useful perspective to our noticeable popular aversion to urban density, illustrated by the opposition to dense development in Kakaako (“Ingredients that make a happy city/Urban density done right makes for happy cities, advocate says“).

The columnist, Jerry Large, spoke to Charles Montgomery, author of “Happy City: Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Design.”

Studies show that social connection is at the heart of human happiness and well being, he said, and it’s hard to find that in a sprawling city or suburb, or sitting alone on a long commute by car, or walking beside the unbroken walls of large buildings.

Montgomery said that because his neighborhood in Vancouver, B.C., is densely populated, he can easily walk to all kinds of shops and amenities and doesn’t have to look at a schedule when he wants to take transit because a bus will always be along in a few minutes….

In a happy city, government isn’t spending lots of money on new roads or extending utilities to far reaches. Mass transit can be efficient because people are clustered together, people can drive less, which reduces pollution and the tension of long commutes and saves them money. Cities take in more money than spread-out suburbs. He said studies of productivity found that a high-density, multiuse acre in a city can bring in 100 times more sales and property taxes than an acre in a spread-out suburb. And that city acre can produce 20 times the number of jobs.

I recommend the column, and although I haven’t read the book, it looks like a perspective worth considering.

Of course, Montgomery’s romantic urbanism is not without serious critics. I’m just reading through a two-part assessment by John Muscat which appeared in New Geography (“The Illusions of Charles Montgomery’s Happy City“).

In any case, Montgomery does present a good case for urban density when done right.

We have lots of experience with density that doesn’t offer much of what Montgomery finds most appealing. Makiki is a good example, I would think. Plenty of density, not much in apparent in the the way of amenities, social resources, and good planning.

Could you retrofit Makiki with the things that Montgomery finds important? That would be an interesting experiment.

→ 5 CommentsTags: environment · Health · Planning · Politics

Comment problems prompt changes

October 20th, 2014 · No Comments

It should be easier to post comments here beginning this morning. After receiving several complaints from people who said they had been unable to successfully post their comments in the past few days, I deactivated the CAPTCHA anti-spam software plug-in. This had been added sometime ago in order to combat automated comment spam that was bogging down the entire site. If the comment spam issue recurs, I’ll try a different CAPTCHA solution.

In the meantime, though, you’ll find commenting somewhat streamlined. Hopefully it will all work.

If you continue to experience problems leaving comments, please email me and describe the problem. Thanks!

→ No CommentsTags: Blogs · Computers

Wondering why the UPW endorsement was made so late

October 19th, 2014 · 3 Comments

Did you catch Friday’s announcement of UPW’s endorsement in the governor’s race?

Democratic candidate for governor Senator David Ige received an endorsement from the United Public Workers, AFSCME Local 646, which represents nearly 14,000 of Hawaii’s blue-collar workers in both the public and private sectors. UPW members are employees from local schools and hospitals to airports and correctional facilities, including EMTs, nurses, technical staff, maintenance staff, custodians, janitors, refuse collectors, heavy equipment operators and many other hardworking citizens.

“Democrat Senator David Ige has a proven track record of fighting for workers and the everyday person trying to make an honest living to support themselves and their families,” said UPW State Director Dayton Nakanelua. “Growing up in a working class family, raising a family of three plus his work in the private sector and the Legislature, make him the best candidate to improve education, expand job creation and grow Hawaii’s economy.”

The immediate question is why this endorsement is so late, with the election now just two weeks away.

I would love to know what happened in the union discussion that led to this late endorsement.

For the record, UPW endorsed Mufi Hannemann in both 2010 (for governor) and 2012 (for Congress).

Perhaps Hannemann was the union’s first choice, but they finally came to grips with polls that show he has no chance this time around.

→ 3 CommentsTags: Campaigns · Elections · Labor · Politics

“Honolulu Advertiser”, The Auction

October 19th, 2014 · 5 Comments

On the auction blockHere’s what happened when the heavy brass sign that once graced the Honolulu Advertiser went on the auction block. Yesterday’s auction was by Wendy McClain, McClain’s Ultimate Attic.

→ 5 CommentsTags: History · Media