Category Archives: Working With the System

Approaching the existing governmental bodies and laws, to effectively and cooperatively bring change.

register to vote!


Hawaii Sustainable Community Alliance efforts are currently focused on changing government regulatory obstacles to sustainability and community.

We need to support candidates who support us!!

Register to vote.

July 12 is the deadline to register for the August 11, 2012 Primary election.

Who May Register to Vote?

You may register to vote if you are:

A citizen of the United States of America;

A legal resident of Hawaii; and

At least 18 years of age.

How to Register to Vote?

By Mail: Mail in voter registration form is widely available. Mail the completed Affidavit on Application for Voter Registration to the Office of the City or County Clerk where you reside.

In Person: Visit the Office of the City or County Clerk where you reside to complete an Affidavit on Application for Voter Registration.

Department of Motor Vehicle: The State of Hawaii Application for Motor Vehicle Driver’s License also contains a Motor Voter Affidavit on Application for Voter Registration allowing any individual to simultaneously apply for a driver’s license and register to vote.

Where to Get a Voter Registration Form?

Affidavit on Application for Voter Registration brochures are available at:

Public libraries

U.S. Post Offices

Phone Directory

State services agencies

University of Hawaii System

Office of Elections’ website (<>

Do You Need to Re-Register?

If you have changed your address or changed your name:

You must re-register.

Complete an Affidavit on Application for Voter Registration by mail or in-person at your City or County Clerk.

Your voter registration record will be updated upon receipt of a properly completed affidavit.

Notice to First Time Voters Who Register to Vote by Mail:

If you are (1) registering to vote for the first time in the State of Hawai’i; and (2) are mailing in this Affidavit on Application for Voter Registration you must provide proof of identification. Proof of identification includes a copy of:

A current and valid photo identification, or

A current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck or government document that shows your name and address.

If you do not provide the required proof of identification with this Affidavit on Application for Voter Registration, you will be required to do so at your polling place, or with your voted absentee mail-in ballot.

Questions? Contact:

County of Hawaii: (808) 961-8277


Planning and Zoning for Ecovillages

The best article l’ve found on Planning and Zoning for Ecovillages is


and be sure to check out our sister organization on Maui and their excellent power point presentation on ecovillage zoning


From the County of Hawaii’s “Sustainability Primer” report

From the County of Hawaii’s “Sustainability Primer” report
Adopted by the Council Resolution # 249 November 4th 2009 page 23

“This is a journey that is going to take unprecedented leadership. We are not going to get the future we want if we sit back and wait for someone else to start first. What the world needs now, more than ever before, is leadership. Role models. Champions. People who are willing to stand up and make a difference….Effective sustainability champions have a special combination of passion and competence. They care deeply enough to make change happen, even if the obstacles seem great. And they are skilled enough and committed enough to identify those obstacles and remove them one by one.”

HSCA members could be these champions, role models and leaders they are seeking………………
Together, let us work to remove the obstacles to sustainable living…………one by one.



HSCA requests review of the Special Permit process

From Hawaii Sustainable Community Alliance

SPACE and Belly Acres are facing challenges to their special use
permits.  They are test cases for other groups wanting to do the
same.  Their success is vital for setting a precedent for others of
us to use this legal process, in order to use our Ag land for other
purposes such as gatherings and classes.

The Hawaii Sustainable Community Alliance
is proposing that the County of Hawaii  review the Special Permit
process which community non profit groups have to undertake if they
want to legally provide facilities and programs for their own

There are undoubtedly dozens of island wide groups of all sizes
serving their communities, but acting outside County or State
ordinances.  Many of them intentionally keep a very low profile and
most have their energy and successes stifled by the fear of official
retribution. This handicaps many sustainable community initiatives.

Neighborhoods providing non profit services for themselves benefits
everyone, especially taxpayers who are saved the costs of providing
these services.

While sustainable living and community development are both highly
valued at all levels of the County Administration on this island,
there is a reason that only two ‘sustainable community groups’  have
obtained Special Permits for their activities and one was recently
revoked by the Planning Department.  It is a lengthy and expensive
process at the moment.

Communities are vulnerable to complaints from neighbors, and assumed
guilty with no way to discuss or face our accusers. Big Island Weekly
is coming out with a story on the 26th on this topic of how the
complaint driven system affects us all.

HSCA is requesting to present proposals to remove the obstacles and
challenges that currently deter small community groups from applying
for County permits to operate legally at the Windward Planning
Commission Meeting on May 3rd in Hilo.


Legality of the Complaint Driven Process of Building and Land Usage Inspections

The Complaint Driven Process of Building and Land Usage Inspections

Are these processes or action themselves illegal (under County, State or Federal constitution and/or other applicable laws relating to due process and similar)?

Points are:

* No criteria or process at county level for determining validity of complaint. Might the county be setting itself up for liability/legal action by prosecuting a fraudulent or otherwise invalid “complaint”?

* Anonymity of accuser. Is this permissible in civil or criminal court? That the accused not be allowed to know who the accuser is? If not, then how can it be allowable in this context?

* Accused is presumed guilty. This is in direct contradiction to our civil and criminal legal systems where accused is presumed innocent pending attempts to prove guilt.

* No formal procedure to respond to complaints. Again this is not allowed in our civil or criminal legal system. Could this be grounds for a civil lawsuit against the county?

I’m NOT advocating lawsuits against the county pre-emptively.
I’m suggesting that IF such lawsuits would have firm legal ground, the county needs to be aware of this and be aware that by doing what they’re doing WRT their current complaint process, they are putting themselves at risk of such lawsuits.

John S.


Laws encouraging installing residential solar systems


There was legislation that passed in Vermont in May 2011 and Colorado in June 2011 making it easier and cheaper to install residential solar systems. We support adopting similar legislation in Hawaii in the belief that it will add substantially to Hawaii State’s goal to achieve 70% clean energy by 2030.

Links to the relevant Acts are listed below and a copy of the simple permitting process is attached.







County Council Passes Controversial Building Code

West Hawaii Today  but not the Tribune covered the 270 demonstration and police presence at the meeting.  We don’t know why there was no story in the Tribune Herald!


Hawaiian Homelands – info part I

First piece of info from my inquiry into Hawaiian Homelands and if/how County zoning and building codes apply.

Spoke today with a man who farms 20 acres of family land in Panaewa (Hawaiian Homelands). I did not get a lot of details as yet, but basically he said DHHL rather than the County has jurisdiction in terms of land use. For example, for a project on his family land, he goes to DHHL and tells them what his plan is, and needs some kind of OK from them. I don’t know what the formal procedure requires – he made it sound pretty informal actually.

He says he needs no permits from the County unless grid power is involved, in which case the usual kind of building permit process is required. As I understood it this is because HELCO has to be involved and they won’t play unless the rest of the County process is the game.

I am involved in portions of an alternative building project on this person’s family land. It will include graywater and also blackwater systems as well as building with a variety of non-code-approved materials and methods. He is not at all concerned with what the County may think because to his knowledge it’s none of their business anyhow.

Hope to find out more in the near future, will post additional info as I get it.


How to State Your Opinion on Sustainability- Submitting Testimony

Submitting testimony in Support of the HSCA Resolution:
We really appreciate you taking a moment and sending a quick email to the County council, to help make sustainable living more legal.   Here are some tips, and how to send it.

Tips for effective testimony:
* Keep it positive.  Talk about what you want rather than what you don’t want.
* Also keep it short.  Just make one or two points in a few sentences.  Short emails are more likely to be read.
* Note that your testimony can “Favor”, or “Oppose”, or “Comment”.  Make this clear.  See the template format below.
* If you want a list of points you might bring up, see this post.

**Send your email to

Example of an email testimony layout:

Don’t point out flaws in government, or vent your frustration.

Do point out how this will make it easier for the County, the many ways in which this could save the county $$$.

Do mention how this will serve low income residents.

Do mention how this can reduce current workload bottle neck in permitting processes.

“RE Comm. 385, Res. 167-11 Sustainable Habitat

1. Make a point, express a concern in a sentence or two.

2. Make a second point.

Because this Resolution #167-11 addresses these concerns, I’m in favor.


‘your name _________ ‘

resident, Hawaii County”

Paper mail carries more weight than faxes or emails.

Original statements carry more influence than paste and copied membership drives.

For in person testimonies at the meetings, keep it relevant and brief, 3 minutes allowed.


support from the Hawaiian Acres Community Association

June 13th, 2011

Hawaiian Acres Community Association

PO Box 368

Kurtistown, HI 96760

Hawaii Sustainable Community Alliance

13 June 2011

Re: Hawaii County Sustainable Rural Habitat Ordinance


On behalf of the Hawaiian Acres Community Association (HACA)board, I am writing

this letter to voice our support for the concept of an ordinance to address limiteddensity

owner-built rural dwelling and associated structures.

We’ve had some discussions at our meetings on the topic of the Universal Building

Code and believe that there are many provisions in it that are not compatible with

the rural life style so many of us enjoy here in the Hawaiian Acres Subdivision.

One of your board members, James Weatherford, in his letter dated31 May 2011, to

the Puna Community Development Action Committee requesting their support for

the Hawaii County Sustainable Rural Habitat Ordinance stated, ”The proposed

change in policy is first and foremost about sustainable quality of life, permitting

rural habitat with a lower ecological footprint, through use of local, recycled, and

unconventional materials and building methods.” These are ideas that the HACA

board can endorse because they are consistent with how many of our residents are

currently living.

Thank you for taking the initiative to draft the Rural Habitat Ordinance.



President, HACA