HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - After years of griping about how Kailua is treated by Honolulu Hale, some Windward Oahu leaders say it’s time to form their own county.
The plan is being proposed at the Kailua Neighborhood Board. But the city says it makes more sense to work together to solve problems.
Why do some in Kailua want to divorce the city and create a new county of their own.
They say it’s because too many problems aren’t getting attention, from illegal vacation rentals to monster homes to the high cost of living.
“We think for a long time now all the Honolulu mayors have not respected this side of the island,” said Gary Weller, a member of the Kailua Neighborhood Board.
Weller and Matthew Darnell, another supporter of the plan, think Waimanalo to Kaneohe and possibly the North Shore should secede to create a new county: Koolaupoko County.
“What is good for Honolulu is not good for Kailua. We need a completely different set of rules,” said Darnell, a Kailua Neighborhood Board member.
They say they’ve gotten some positive response to the idea ― along with some criticism.
“I’ve gotten some calls. (They say) ’It’s just lolo. There’s no way it’s ever going to happen,'” said Darnell.
How would a new county run with the city’s services, like police, fire, sewer and bus service?
Weller answered this way: “All the city assets belong to the people. They don’t belong to the City and County of Honolulu. It’s paid for by our money so I envision all those assets being transferred to the new county."
The Caldwell Administration says no way.
“The administration would not support creating an ‘us versus them’ situation with the creation of a separate county government. We all need to work together,” the city said, in a statement.
But with the city’s latest approved budget at $2.8 billion, Darnell thinks a new county could be run with $200 million.
The idea of a new county has been floated on Oahu before, but HNN political analyst Colin Moore says secession would be up to the state Legislature and that Honolulu has been a consolidated city government for more than a century.
“It’s not crazy in the sense that this happens frequently on the mainland," he said. “You have wealthy suburbs that carve out their own jurisdictions, but it’s almost impossible to imagine how it would happen in Hawaii.”
The idea is on the agenda at a June 19 committee meeting for the Kailua Neighborhood Board. The meeting kicks off at 7 p.m at the Kailua District Park’s Arts and Recreation Room.
After that, supporters expect 10 years of planning.