Letters — Regarding The Planning Director’s Position On Woodland Center

Aloha Tiffany,

I was out of the office and in Waikoloa all day Friday for the health care conference and  pretty tied up all day today between meetings and site visits.

Basically, the Planning Department does not decide what mitigation/traffic improvements are required by a rezoning request.  We leave that to the engineers at DPW and State Highways.  They comment and we almost always incorporate their requests verbatim into the conditions we draft for Commission and Council review and approval.

I agree that we need to provide for the traffic mitigation of projects when the project is creating or adding to an existing problem.  I think where we probably differ is to what extent you can add conditions to an already approved rezoning to address traffic problems that occurred after the granting of the rezoning.  Mitigation in a rezoning ordinance is supposed to take care of the additional traffic created by a development as opposed to correcting an existing problem created by other developments.

In the case of the Woodland Center my position is further affected by the fact that the Planning Department signed off on the building permit application for Longs on February 6, 2009.  When we signed off on the building permit application, the Kahakai right turn in, right turn out condition did not exist in the 2003 ordinance and State Highways was not asking for this improvement.  The permit was eventually issued on August 26th, 2009. Read more

*** Commentary *** Evidence It Will Be 7-10 Years Before Intersection Improvements At Highway 130 And Pahoa Village Road

I nearly cried when I read the following letter from state Department of Transportation Director Brennon Morioka to Planning Department Head Bobby Jean Leithead-Todd, revealing it’s going to be between seven and 10 years before the intersection of Highway 130 and Pahoa Village Road is improved.  I just cannot believe the government incompetence.  Seven years ago, Woodland Center development was initiated.  Why planning for the intersection improvements did not begin then is beyond me.  I guess we can blame that on having totally ineffective representation at the State and County level.  Someone should have been working for the people by pressing HARD on the State Department of Transportation and County Public Works Traffic Dvision to ensure that this was properly coordinated.

In any case, tomorrow Bill 283, the time extension for Woodland Center’s rezoning, will be taken up at 1:30 p.m. at the Hawaii County Council’s Planning Committee. The meeting, as I’ve told you, is in Kona of all places.  But those who are interested in participating in this meeting, i.e., watching and testifying, can do so in Hilo via videoconferencing. Just proceed to the Council Chambers at the Hawaii County Building at 25 Aupuni Street at the meeting time.  If you do testify, ask council members to do a site visit of the area and to hold a public hearing in Pahoa.  There has been a circulating petition that has garnered 1,100 signatures.  The County Council should really here from the people of Pahoa in Pahoa.  I will be doing some live blogging from the meeting, and you’ll see that I’m going to test it out tonight.

And, now, the correspondence that, quite frankly, makes me sick to my stomach to read.

Read more

*** Commentary *** ‘Words Of Wisdom’ — Woodland Center Dialogue Between The County Planning Director And Naeole-Beason’s Legislative Assistant

Among the intersection improvements that many members of the public are seeking prior to the opening of Woodland Center is the opening of Kahakai Boulevard (on the left) out onto Highway 130 (on the right). Photo by Tiffany Edwards Hunt. All rights reserved. Use with permission only.

Open letter to Roxanne “RJ” Hampton, legislative assistant to Puna Councilwoman Emily Naeole-Beason, and Planning Director Bobby Jean Leithead-Todd:

Sometime yesterday someone dropped off at the surf shop correspondence between the two of you on July 22 regarding Woodland Center. I’ll transcribe it below… I would like to offer you a chance to elaborate.

From Roxanne Hampton, Thursday, July 22, 2010, 10:19 a.m., to Bobby Jean Leithead-Todd, entitled, “Words of Wisdom”

We the undersigned recognizing the potential danger for personal injury to both motorist and pedestrian traffic at the intersection of Old Pahoa Village Road and Kahakai Blvd., are requesting the County of Hawaii enforce the concurrency ordinance requiring the Woodland Center project to complete necessary traffic mitigation and infrastructure improvements prior to issuance of certificate(s) of occupancy for Longs Drugs, Burger King and Kentucky Fried Chicken in Pahoa.

I saw this in a coffee shop no name of any responsible organization for individual yet I would never sign a petition if I could not know here the info was going

I am concerned that the public is in need of accurate information concerning the Planning Commissions direction and requirements for the extension of Woodland Project I could sure use some intelligent comment to where the County is at with all of this.

See I kind of know what’s up cause I know how these people work so I am always ready to find out from the thick skinned people how to spin it. Read more

Guest Column — Another Tale Of Two Bobby Jeans

Planning Director Bobby Jean Leithead-Todd

Here is another local parable about our Planning Director, Bobby Jean Leithead-Todd and the treatment afforded to two similar issues which have come or are soon to come before the council.

The topic concerns requests by community groups to make amendments to the county zoning code.  One group, EnVision Downtown Hilo 2025 (WDH2025) , after due deliberation requested changes to the code for Hilo.  The other group, The Puna Community Development Plan (PCDP) under the  efforts of the working groups, steering committee and the present Action Committee also have requests to change the code.  The PCDP changes were endorsed by council in 2008.

The Hilo group got green flagged.  The Puna group is getting red flagged.

Perhaps she will read this and explain why.

To begin here you should understand that Puna has for years been starved for zoning.  Basically our residents have been forced by willful lack of county planning  to be making their own definitions of what AG zoning means.  Hilo has several hundred acres of commercial zoning.  Puna, with a similar population has about thirty five acres.  It is because of this disparity that we who worked on the PCDP said that the previous official plan for Puna was written by someone no one knows and consisted of three simple words:  Drive To Hilo. Read more

Guest Column — A Tale of Two Bobby Jeans

County of Hawaii Planning Director Bobby Jean Leithead-Todd

What  I have here is a local parable about our Planning Director, Bobby Jean Leithead-Todd and the treatment afforded to two similar issues which recently came before the Planning Commission.

One was a Special Use Permit (SUP) for a local family who bought land and had spent considerable funds to plan a small commercial venture on Orchidland Drive at Highway 130. Little money.   The other is the Woodland Center in Pahoa Village.  Big money.   Bobby Jean was red flagging the first and is green flagging the second.

Perhaps she will read this and explain why. Read more

Letters — The Facts Are SPACE Is In Violation Of A Special-Use Permit

(Editor’s Note: Following is an email sent to Big Island Chronicle from Scott and Deb Wills, neighbors complaining about Seaview Performing Arts Center for Education (SPACE).  A carbon copy of the email was sent to Puna Councilwoman Emily Naeole, Planning Director Bobby Jean Leithead-Todd, county zoning inspector  Scott Leonard, and county planners Norman Hayashi, Daryn Arai and Jeff Darrow.)

Thank you for the write-up. It seems the facts are confused with fiction so lets set the record straight.

SPACE requested a Special Use Permit for the sole purpose of providing gymnastics education to the youth of our community. As such, it was approved with several stipulations that included no unpermitted structures and no public performances as this would negatively impact the neighbors. SPACE agreed to these stipulations but soon after the permit was approved SPACE decided that it would do other things rather than educational events. This included concerts, night bazaars, parties, movies, farmers markets and numerous other events that would make a buck. All this was done and justified because SPACE believes they know what the community needs. Knows this better than anyone, and so has lied to the county, violated the law, violated their Special Use Permit, and thumbed their nose at our elected officials, and county experts in the County Health Department, Planning Department, and Building Department.

They have also violated the rights of their neighbors, who consequently are also members of the community. Violations include having parties that last until after midnight, constant noise that violates County Health standards, traffic congestion, parking issues, and mobs of transient people in the neighborhood. All of these are impacts that the county was concerned about when it awarded SPACE the Special Use Permit. As a result, the police are routinely called by the neighbors to handle these issues, which is a waste of precious government money and resources. Additionally, the neighbors rights for due process have been violated. If somebody doesn’t like a law, there’s a process to have it changed which includes input from those that are affected most. You don’t just ignore it and do what you like.

As a result of these violations, the County has become involved. It wasn’t the result of a single complaint or complaintent but as a result of numerous complaints of the neighbors — those in the community affected most. This is not being vindictive, it’s a result of not following the law, arrogance, and stepping on your neighbors.

Guest Column — Welcome To The 0.5% Land Preservation Fund, 2% Land Fund Gets Gutted Again

Punalu'u image courtesy of Wikipedia

Punalu'u image courtesy of Wikipedia

By Rob Tucker

I spent a long eight hours at the Charter Commission hearing on Friday and testified for Friends of Puna’s Future on a few charter amendment proposals. It was a long day.

For the most part the meeting was well run. The testimony from a variety of speakers went rather smoothly. I did notice a consistent theme from any and all testifiers who draw a county paycheck… Don’t change a thing.

Don’t make our world more difficult. The financial foundations of our empire could crumble if voters were to approve a number of proposed amendments. We need more “flexibility” not less. Reminded me of a popular home style slogan you occasionally see in people’s homes which say… “God Bless This Mess.”

Probably the bleakest view of the future came from Planning Director Bobby Jean Leithead-Todd who spoke at length, and I mean length, on the need to double staff, a drowning tsunami of paperwork and unforeseen and ‘be careful what you wish for’ effects of CA-25, a proposal to embed the Community Development Plans into the Charter for redos every ten years. Read more

***Commentary*** Our Planning Director Collecting Ohelo Berries For Research

Planning Director Bobby Jean Leithead-Todd on a weekend expedition collecting ohelo berries

Planning Director Bobby Jean Leithead-Todd on a weekend expedition collecting ohelo berries. Courtesy photo.

Nice to see Planning Director Bobby Jean Leithead-Todd out of her office attire and enjoying life collecting ohelo berries.  Leithead-Todd is depicted here collecting specimens on a weekend expedition for Dr. Francis Zee, who, with co-researchers, is trying to see if ohelo berries can be grown as a commercial crop.

“This particular berry, along with others that they have collected, will be sent to the mainland to check for the nutritional value of ohelo,” Leithead-Todd said. “Since it is in the same family as blueberry, cranberry and huckleberry, they are hoping that it will prove to be high in anti-oxidants.  If it can be grown commerically, it will also take pressure off of the wild ohelo and reduce the potential for invasive species being tracked in by pickers.” Read more

Guest Column — A 16,000-Acre Ka’u Development Is Pitched, In The Midst Of Community Development Planning

By Charles Flaherty

Malama pono,

With the Ka’u community already devoting its time and energy on its Community Development Plan, a developer is trying to weasel in a massive 16,000 acre development between Mamalahoa Highway and Pohue Bay just south of Hawaiian Ocean View Estates.  This area is larger than H.O.V.E. and over ten times the size of Hokuli’a.

You can read a complete description of the project via its Environmental Impact Statement Public Notice *EISPN” at

The proposed project would wipe out a pristine open area with:

0.Three coastal resort hotel complexes with up to 950 units

0.Two 18-hole nearshore golf courses

0.850 golf resort homes

0.An airport

0.70 airport lots

0.Up to 1,050 residential lots clustered around a commercial Village Core just south of the current Ocean View Village Center.

0.170 20-acre agricultural lots Read more

***Commentary*** Kalani Oceanside Retreat Mahalo, And Bobby Jean Leithead-Todd’s Legacy

Bobby Jean Leithead-Todd

Bobby Jean Leithead-Todd

I don’t know about you, but so far I’m pleased with Bobby Jean Leithead-Todd’s work as head of the county Department of Planning.  

Today I received a mahalo letter from Kalani Oceanside Retreat for my support, after the Department of Planning issued a violation notice and ordered all activities associated with its EMAX greenhouse to stop.  

The mahalo letter detailed how Leithead-Todd and staff toured Kalani on Thursday, Sept. 3, 2009.  “After spending the day, she and her staff decided to rescind the violation notice.”

“After getting a good look at what we do here at Kalani, the Department is also looking forward to working with us on bolstering educational eco/ag tourism!” the mahalo letter states. Read more

Letters — Support Kalani Oceanside Retreat’s Greenhouse Use For Community Activities

Aloha Dear Friends of Kalani,

Please provide support for the following:

RE: County Planning Department issued a Violation to Kalani Kai, managed by non-profit Kalani Honua, and requested that Kalani stop using the (EMAX) greenhouse adjacent to Hale Aloha for any activities that they do not consider agricultural (e.g. activities directly involving and working with plants, e.g. propagation).   Kalani has appealed the notice, and a public hearing is scheduled for, an auspicious date, 9/11/09, 10 a.m., in the County of Hawaii Aupuni Center Conference room, 101 Pauahi Street, Hilo. 

I and Kalani ask that you please attend and/or send a letter to: 

BJ Leithead Todd, Planning Director, County of Hawaii Planning Department, 101Pauahi St. #3, Hilo, HI 96720 and please copy to me, Richard Koob  RR2 Box 4500, Pahoa, HI 96778 Read more

Dispatches From Curt — Ode To Planning Director Bobby Jean Leithead-Todd


By Curtis Narimatsu

Bobby Jean Leithead-ToddI thank great County Planning director BJ Leithead (born 1952) for providing the ancient maps showing the government lot [since submerged under the sea] and the “paved road to sea coast” where the government lot was. I see the later inland schoolhouse at the junction of today’s Pahoa to Kapoho Road and Kapoho to Kalapana Road. BJ says the government lot at the seashore where today’s Kapoho gated Beach Lots are is the old schoolhouse site, since moved inland. IF the “paved road to sea coast” was and still is a government road leading to shoreline government property, then public beach access directly into the gated subdivision is guaranteed.

Coincidentally, today’s gated subdivision bay shows as “sunken walls of fish ponds” on an old map. On the same map shows Waiakaea bay north of today’s gated subdivision bay with its own settlement. The old fishing village of Kula was on the south side of deep inlet Waiakaea bay [yet still north of today’s gated subdivision bay], where up to 250 inhabitants/native Hawaiians lived as late as the end of the Monarchy. Read more

*** Commentary *** The Opening Of A New Section Of Saddle Road And The Kapoho Beach Road Debate


Image Courtesy of Andrew Cooper, A Darker View

Image Courtesy of Andrew Cooper, A Darker View. Click here to visit website.


Well, it’s difficult to speak of the news of the day without mentioning Da Kine.  We learn from local newsprint this morning about a new 6.5-mile section of Saddle Road set to open today. (For coverage, see  the back page of Da Kine today.) Also, Planning Director Bobby Jean Leithead-Todd wants to look into a plan to make Kapoho Beach Road public after coming across a 1906 surveyor’s report that referred to a school on Kapoho Point.(Front page below the fold.) The Kapoho Community Association has maintained Beach Road is a private road.  Bobby Jean Leithead-Todd, although acknowledging there are public sanitation issues that needed to be sorted out, has vowed to work for shoreline access in the area. This is an interesting development, and it made me recall that there is a feasibility study on Kapoho wastewater issues in the works.  The study should be complete by now. Is the study recommending a centralized wastewater facility in Kapoho? What are the findings of the feasbility study?  Stay tuned. I’m off to find out.

Image Courtesy of Island Trust Properties

Image Courtesy of Island Trust Properties

Island News — Bobby Jean Leithead-Todd Named Planning Director

Bobby Jean Leithead-Todd, former County Council member, deputy Corporation Counsel, and Environmental Management director, has been named the director of the Planning Department, the Mayor’s Office announced today.

Leithead-Todd, 56, is an attorney with extensive administrative experience and a strong background in planning. She is currently serving as acting deputy planning director.

“Ms. Leithead-Todd has the expertise and the drive to excel in this critical, demanding post,” Kenoi said. “Her family has lived on the Big Island for six generations, and her commitment to our communities, our environment, our people and our heritage make her the perfect choice.” Read more