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Letters

November

Letters to the Editor may be sent to: Honolulu Magazine, P.O. Box 913, Honolulu, HI, 96808-0913, faxed: 537-6455 or e-mailed: letters_honmag@pacificbasin.net

"CHASING THE BUZZ," OCTOBER 2004
John Heckathorn's Dining column on new restaurants in Honolulu.

I was amazed to read John Heckathorn's statement, in his review of Tudo de Bom, that, "A vegetarian can fill up on … fish stew …" Perhaps all the meat Heckathorn consumes has impaired his intellect, and he should consider cutting back. As a lacto- pisco- ovo-vegetarian

I'm accustomed to all the degrees of general ignorance/stupidity regarding people who try to limit the amount of killing that goes into their sustenance. But I expect a tad more awareness from someone who writes about food and restaurants. It might be time, as they say, to send this guy out to pasture and to "bring in some fresh blood." Or, kidding aside, someone with a better awareness about vegetarianism. And you might take another look at your demographic; I suspect that your apparent assumption that almost all your readers are meat-eaters may not be accurate.

Dale Evans, via e-mail

"BROKE BUT HAPPY IN CHICAGO," SEPTEMBER 2004
John Heckathorn's Dining column on Chicago restaurants of note.

I just finished reading your fabulous reviews of those three Chicago restaurants, and even though I had just finished lunch, I was hungry all over again. The photo of the caviar tower was amazing! While most of your reviews should center around Hawai'i, of course, please don't leave out these occasional Mainland reports. You did San Francisco a few years ago, just before a trip of mine, and I went to one of the restaurants you recommended, Postrio, and had a fine meal-and I wouldn't have even heard about it if it hadn't been for the review.

Susan Jaworowski, via e-mail

"HAWAI'I GUIDE TO PRIVATE SCHOOLS 2005," SEPTEMBER 2004
Our special supplement for parents considering private school for their children.

It's a valuable tool to provide, the "Hawai'i Guide to Private Schools," for parents and students to be informed about various private institutions in the Islands. Furthermore, Robert Witt, executive director of the Hawai'i Association of Independent Schools, believes that Hawai'i's public and private schools stand together in contributing to the public good. I agree with Witt. So, could it be possible to provide a "Hawai'i Guide to Public Schools," too? Besides publishing the grades of the public schools, some of which are indeed failing, perhaps some positive, insightful information would also be helpful for parents and students. I don't think it would put a damper on anyone's parade to expose the positive nature of public schools, just like the private schools.

Joyce Choy, Honolulu

"CAN WE MAKE HONOLULU COOL?," AUGUST 2004
A. Kam Napier's look at the City and County of Honolulu's first attempts at smart-growth development plans.

I recently was given a copy of "Can We Make Honolulu Cool?" by a friend who is active in the Portland, Ore., business community. Your article

is right on point about smart growth. We have a Metro government here that is ruining our economy through its smart growth measures. Oregon is in first place in unemployment, last place in economic growth and fourth in highest-priced places to live of all the 50 states. One would think that if we have been practicing smart growth for the past 10 years, we would be at least somewhere in the middle or the top 10. Keep up the good work on this issue for Honolulu and other cities in Hawai'i.

I have been involved with the development of a 250-acre transit-oriented development project for a private family in Washington County for the past 12 years. It has been a real experience. The main issue is, once the ball gets rolling with the smart growth advocates, the goal posts for development are constantly being moved. Phased planning is almost impossible because the rules are constantly changing. The development cost is enormous and the new tenants and home buyers pay the price. If the price can't be paid, then the project goes nowhere, or public subsidies must come to the table. Even with the subsidies, projects are failing.

I was really pleased that you quoted John Charles [analyst with the Portland-based Cascade Policy Institute] in your article. I have known John for several years and believe he is probably the most knowledgeable person there is on transportation issues, and especially transit.

Marty Sevier, Portland, Ore.

I thought that your article was too simplistic in its analysis of smart growth. What your article failed to mention is that all cities in the world were created based on mixed-use zoning. Before World War II, every city in the United States was developed in grids utilizing mixed-use zoning. In the 1920s, street-car suburbs were created around what is now called transit-oriented development. Your article also fails to mention that oil, rubber and the Big Three corporations bought most of the old streetcar lines, ran them into the ground in the 1940s and finally shut them down in the '50s to promote buses, automobiles, oil consumption and highway construction.

In recent years, people have been lured back to the cities because of New Urbanism, which, for them, eliminates the daily commute. San Francisco, for example, is a pedestrian-friendly and transit-oriented city. One of the most famous, successful New Urbanism developments is SBC Park. San Francisco neighborhoods offer mixed-use developments around different "Main Street" areas. Oakland, Palo Alto, Berkeley, Mountain View and Emeryville have embraced new and old urbanism, and are the most desirable neighborhoods in the Bay Area.

I have lived in Portland, Ore., in Orenco Station, a transit-oriented development. It was great to be able to go into town to a party and just catch the MAX home.

New Urbanism and public transit work best in high-population-density places. Honolulu is that kind of place, as are San Francisco and Portland, Ore. Some books to read on the topic of smart growth are: The Death and Life of Great American Cities, by Jane Jacobs, Suburban Nation: The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream, by Andres Duany, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk and Jeff Speck and New Urbanism, by Peter Katz. Also check out www.newurbanism.org and www.cnu.org.

The question is, do we want unique places where people gather naturally, or soulless, sterile suburbs? Personally, I love cities with character, culture and a great public transit system.

Alan Loo, via e-mail

Napier responds: Let me add The Geography of Nowhere, by James Howard Kunstler, for those who believe that Big Oil stuck us with the automobile and soul-dead suburbs. But let me also recommend a Sept. 29, 2004, feature from The New York Times, "The Autonomist Manifesto (Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Road)." In it, John Tierney explores at length the counterview of people he calls the "autonomists," because they praise the virtues of the individual autonomy provided by automobiles. He writes, "[T]he autonomists argue that the car is not merely a convenience, but one of history's greatest forces for good, an invention that liberated the poor from slums and workers from company towns, challenged communism, powered the civil rights movement and freed women to work outside the home." Tierney, a former Manhattanite, who professes to hate his own car, gives these bold historic claims a fair hearing.

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,November

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