Frequently Asked Questions

What is Envision Lā’ie?
Who is involved?
Why should I get involved?
How can I participate in Envision Lā’ie?
What did the initial studies conclude?

How does Envision Lā’ie define sustainability?
How do we make Lā’ie more sustainable?

Community workshops
Who participated in the workshops?
What were the results of the workshops?
Can I download the presentations from the workshops?

Survey Results
Who was surveyed?
Can I get a copy of the survey results?

What’s next?
I like the way of life here. Why do things have to change?
Are you proposing changes to the General Plan?

Q: What is Envision Lā’ie?
Envision La‘ie is a collaboration of residents and stakeholders of La‘ie, Kahuku, Hau‘ula, and Ko‘olau Loa to study the area and plan for its future possibilities. The goal is to create a sustainable plan for the Ko’olau Loa region that reflects its residents’ culture, values and wishes with attention to the unique aspects of the land and its people. It is a process of envisioning the future to discover the possibilities in Lā’ie. Other cities and towns have done this type of envisioning to ensure the future they create protects their quality of life. Visioning provides a view of the options before Lā’ie and is structured to help everyone understand the long-term consequences of the choices that will be made today.

Q: Who is involved?
Residents and stakeholders of La‘ie, Kahuku, Hau‘ula, and Ko‘olau Loa.

Q: Why should I get involved?
Public involvement is critical for public planning. The people of Lā’ie and Ko’olau Loa have a direct interest in shaping the region’s future. The plan is meant to reflect the wishes of the community at large. We need your voice.

Q: How can I participate in Envision Lā’ie?
Continue to visit www.envisionlaie.com for news of upcoming events, public forums, or meetings. We encourage you to attend meetings and express your opinions. Leave your comments on this web site. Talk to your neighbors and friends. Now is the time to get involved!

Q: What did the initial studies conclude?
The current structure of the community, the Church, and institutions of Lā’ie is not sustainable.

Brigham Young University Hawaii: BYU-Hawaii is the most expensive LDS Church school to operate; per student subsidies are significantly higher than at other Church schools in Utah and Idaho. In addition, the housing designations that hem in the campus on two sides are, according to University officials and nationally recognized campus planning experts, “not workable.” The BYU-Hawaii administration is seeking to increase enrollment and become more sustainable financially. In addition, it plans to bring a much larger percentage of students into on-campus housing to provide a better environment for learning and relieve housing and traffic pressures in Lā’ie and Ko’olau Loa.

Polynesian Cultural Center: PCC is the number one paid tourist attraction in Hawai‘i. The nonprofit attraction was founded in 1963 so nearby Brigham Young University-Hawai‘i students could work their way through college by sharing and preserving island cultural heritage. The PCC depends on BYU-Hawaii to provide student employees. Without BYU-Hawaii, the center’s future would be in question.

Constantly changing market conditions require PCC, like any other business, to examine its approach to the future. To preserve financial viability PCC must have the ability to expand its current offerings.

The center may need to expand onto adjacent land, renew facilities, and add new events and attractions in order to compete more effectively with other island attractions.

Housing: The median household income in Ko’olau Loa is $56,400 and given standard terms for a 30-year fixed mortgage, the affordable home price at this income is $262,000. With the median value/price of a home in Ko’olau Loa at $610,000, that is 133% greater than the affordable price of the median income. In fact, only 9% of households could afford to purchase a home at the median value – one of the worst affordable housing situations for local residents in all of Hawaii.

In addition, current housing types are likely a mismatch from what households, given their sizes and incomes, might demand, suggesting a need to develop new types of housing as the area grows. In many cases multiple families are living in one house. Facts show that more and more of the people buying and building homes in our region are from the mainland or from other parts of Hawaii. The children and families of current Lā’ie residents can’t afford to live here.

Jobs: The Ko’olau Loa economy is heavily reliant (insufficiently diversified) on Brigham Young University Hawaii and the Polynesian Cultural Center with as many as 27% of local jobs (69% of jobs in Lā’ie) provided by entities of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The jobs-to-household ratio in the Ko’olau Loa area is much lower than the average ratio in Honolulu County or the State (1.2, compared to 1.9 and 1.8, respectively), suggesting that more workers must commute to other parts of the island for work, putting more cars on Kamehameha Highway. In addition, the lack of adequate jobs has likely contributed to the lack of population growth, or even decline, in Lā’ie between 1990 and 2007. Ko’olau Loa’s population is basically unchanged since 1990, even as Honolulu County’s population has grown by 10% over the same period.

Low-Income: Lā’ie and Ko’olau Loa have a larger share of low-income families than Honolulu County and the State. The percentage of family households below the poverty line in 2008 was 11% in Lā’ie and 13% in Ko’olau Loa, compared with 7% in Honolulu County and 8% for the State.

Schools: Public school performance further confirms that the area is currently underserved, with math and reading proficiency scores lagging state averages in the seventh, eighth, and tenth grades. In addition, the Kahuku School Complex provides free or reduced-cost student lunches to 48% of students – among the highest in the state.


Q: How does Envision Lā’ie define sustainability?
Envision Lā’ie has adopted the definition used in the Hawai’i 2050 Sustainability Plan. The State of Hawai‘i has taken steps to define sustainability in practical terms. In the State’s draft blueprint for the future, the Hawai‘i 2050 Sustainability Plan, sustainability is defined as:
• A respect for culture, character, beauty and history;
• A balance between economic, social and community, and environmental priorities; and
• The ability to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.

It’s called “The Triple Bottom Line Approach: Where economic, community and environmental goals are in balance.” While the Hawaii 2050 Plan includes a number of indicators to help measure sustainability, we believe the most important measure is whether through growth more families can afford to stay in the country.

Q: How do we make Lā’ie more sustainable?
Envision Lā’ie’s initial studies concluded that a possible solution for sustainability might be reached through growth. Not all growth is good, but not all growth is bad. Surveys and public workshops were conducted to determine if growth can be a solution and what type of growth would improve quality of life and protect and preserve what is special about Ko’olau Loa. The studies considered affordable housing, traffic, drainage, jobs, retail and other issues that relate to economic, environmental, social and cultural sustainability.

Community workshops

Q: Who participated in the workshops?
Over 600 Ko’olau Loa residents of all ages participated in the workshops.

Q: What were the results of the workshops?
Participants created 60 maps (viewable on Flickr) that showed how and where they would like to see Ko‘olau Loa grow. The workshop used instant polling to ask participants their thoughts on the joys of living in the area, problems facing their community, and their priorities for improving the quality of life. Whether participants were long time residents or new to the area, the workshop exercises allowed them to share concerns, hopes, and local knowledge in the design of a future plan for the region.

La‘ie community workshop participants called for more housing. In fact, the lack of affordable housing was overwhelmingly ranked the most important issue facing Ko‘olau Loa. On average, participants suggested La‘ie and the surrounding community need an additional 61 housing units per year.

La‘ie workshop results revealed that residents agree the community needs to work together to meet eight community needs:
• Provide more affordable housing
• Expand job opportunities
• Preserve land in order for BYU-Hawaii to expand
• Extend the current Rural Community Boundary to allow housing in Malaekahana
• Build Cane Haul Road to improve traffic flow
• Add bike and pedestrian pathways
• Improve local amenities
• Improve drainage and flood protection

Full workshop results were summarized and presented at the public meeting on June 23, 2009. To download a copy of the entire presentation click here. Results from the workshops span slides 51- 87.

Q: Can I download the presentations from the workshops?
Yes. To download the presentation from the first night of the workshops, click here. To download the summarized results from the workshops, click here.

Survey Results

Q: Who was surveyed?
In total, 696 residents of Oahu completed a 20-minute online survey. This included 174 in Ko’olau Loa, 71 of them from Lā’ie.

Q: Can I get a copy of the survey results?
Yes. A text version of the complete survey results is available here. An illustrated version in PowerPoint is available here.
Q: What’s next?
Moving forward to make Envision La‘ie a reality requires pursuing a few immediate steps. First, we all must work with the City and County of Honolulu to amend in the Ko‘olau Loa Sustainable Communities Plan to incorporate the community’s hopes and desires. That means an amendment of the Rural Community Boundary to:
• Allow for the expansion of the university in order to serve more students and provide more jobs
• Permit housing in Malaekahana for pent-up demand, BYU-Hawaii and PCC growth, and community sustainability
• Allow future village centers in La‘ie and Malaekahana
• Allow for the expansion of the Polynesian Cultural Center so that it can be competitive, viable, and sustainable long-term
• Connect communities with a restored Cane Haul road
• Provide for a pedestrian and bike path network and recreational opportunities

As a community, we need to continue planning for a sustainable La‘ie. We need to develop strategies and short term actions to provide opportunities for the expansion of BYU-Hawaii, the revitalization of the PCC, and the development of housing and local shopping in Malaekahana.
Q: I like the way of life here. Why do things have to change?
The question is not whether or not anyone wants things to change-change is already happening. Many of these changes are slowly making it harder to find jobs, own a home, and raise families with the hope that they will be able to stay and raise their own families here. The real questions are, “What kind of change does the community want?” “What kind of change will best protect and promote what we value most about our lives here in Lā’ie and Ko’olau Loa?”
Q: How is this different than the Ko’olau Loa Sustainable Communities Plan?
The Ko’olau Loa Sustainable Communities Plan (KLSC) is funded by The City and County of Honolulu. In fact, the KLSC is tasked to complete a conceptual master plan with a 20-year rolling horizon and to open the respective plans every five years for public review and amendment. The Public Advisory Committee (PAC) put together by the City and County is in the process of leading the current 5-year review, which ends spring/summer 2009. Envision Lā’ie is working with the City and community to incorporate as much as possible from the Envision Lā’ie process into the current KLSC planning process. At a public meeting at the Hauula Elementary School on January 29, 2009, the City’s Chief Planner said Lā’ie could also file a plan amendment when the Envision Lā’ie process is completed.
Q: Are you proposing changes to the General Plan?
No. We are not proposing any changes to the General Plan. We are recommending changes to the Ko’olau Loa Sustainable Communities Plan.