Over 50 Years of Planning in Hawai‘i

The Hawai‘i Chapter was founded in April 1962, shortly after Hawai‘i's Statehood in 1959. Planning in Hawai‘i predates this founding, as several national planning figures were already working in Hawai‘i including Charles Mulford Robinson, Lewis Mumford, and Harland Bartholomew. Robinson envisioned Aloha Tower at the entrance of the Honolulu Harbor in 1906, Mumford wrote a report, Whither Honolulu?, for the city's Park Board, and Harland Bartholomew opened the first planning firm in Honolulu in 1947. The firm's local manager was Donald Wolbrink.

In its early years, the Hawai‘i Chapter strove without success to take a unified position on several local issues including the future of Waikīkī, and tried to educate the media and the public about what planners do. By the late 1970s, the Chapter adopted a set of bylaws for its operations and a standard format for its newsletter, then known as the "Hawai‘i Chapter APA News." In 1982, the Chapter launched the annual Planning Student Essay Contest, raising funds from members and local firms to award cash prizes. Two years later, the Chapter revised its bylaws to enable non-professional planners to become members. By its 25th anniversary at Honolulu's Restaurant Row in 1987, the Chapter had 187 members. To raise funds for this event, the Chapter sold T-shirts, mugs and pins.

In 1990, the Chapter prepared a Development Plan that was the impetus for a series of conferences and workshops over the next several years. Meetings were held on defining a sense of place, Honolulu's land use ordinance, Geographic Information Systems, the new urbanism, defense base conversion to civilian use, and community-based planning. In accordance with that Plan, the Chapter established neighbor-island liaisons in 1991, and revised its bylaws in 1992 to change the President's term of office from one to two years. In recent years, the Chapter has expanded its newsletter and enhanced its profile in the community. It has also become more active in taking positions on public issues, including those that affect the State's neighbor islands.

Today, the Hawai‘i Chapter has approximately 270 members from various islands of the State of Hawai‘i, and other U.S. states. Membership includes private and public sector planners, decision-makers, administrators, lawyers, architects, interest groups, land owners, developers, university professors, students, and other interested individuals.