The APA Hawai’i Oral Histories Project: The Wisdom of Our Elders

APA Hawai'i Chapter


Thursday, March 8, 2018
noon - 1 p.m. HST

Honolulu, HI, United States

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The purpose of this project is to produce an oral history of planning events and activities that have shaped the landscape of development in Hawai‘i since Statehood in 1959.  This history covers major land use laws, planning processes and procedures, and major planning issues and controversies.  The project conducted two-part interviews of seven distinguished planners who knew the history of the planning profession in Hawai‘i at the state and county level.  They include Jim Bell, David Callies, Tom Dinell, Sidney Fuke, Harold Masumoto, Cheryl Soon, John Whalen.  Video cameras were used to record the second interview in a studio to improve the audio and visual quality of the recording.  The recordings were initially stored on secure digital memory cards and later transferred onto a set of DVDs.  The project is designed to support the APA Hawai‘i Chapter’s program of continuing education and professional development of chapter members, students, and others interested in Hawai‘i’s planning issues.

On these recordings, the seven distinguished planners answer a variety of questions and comment on many topics relevant to planning in Hawai‘i.  Some questions were asked of everyone, while others were unique to one or two individuals.  For example, questions typically asked of most people were: How and why did you become a planner?  How has the rationale for planning and the role of the planner evolved in Hawai‘i?  What makes for a ‘good’ plan?  How does politics affect the planning process?  What are some examples of planning successes, failures and missed opportunities in Hawai‘i?  What emerging issues or shifts have you seen in the public policy agenda?  What advice can you give to current and future planners?  In addition, most of them shared their views and opinions on several other topics: the Hawai‘i State Land Use Law; planning functions at the state and county level; the Hawai‘i Community Development Authority’s plans for redevelopment of Kaka‘ako; evolution of planning for Honolulu’s rail transit project; planning and construction of the H-3 freeway; climate change, sea level rise and the need for disaster planning; and planning for the City of Kapolei on O‘ahu’s Ewa Plain. 

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Peter Flachsbart, AICP

Peter Flachsbart, Ph.D., AICP, is Associate Professor of Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. He teaches graduate level courses in land use and transportation planning, the use of decision-making and forecasting models in planning, and research methods in planning. He has held ... Read More

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Ralph Portmore,