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Hawai'i Complete Streets Policy


Hawaii Complete Streets Policy:

  • Requires that Hawaii Department of Transportation and county transportation departments adopt a complete streets policy that seeks to reasonably accommodate convenient access and mobility for all users of the public highways.
  • Applies to new construction, reconstruction, and maintenance of highways, roads, streets, ways and lanes located within urban, suburban, and rural areas.
  • Includes 4 exemptions to implementation 1) safety (areas of unacceptable risk to pedestrians, bicycle or vehicular traffic), 2) sparseness of population, 3) costs excessively disproportionate to need or use, and 4) areas that prohibit bikes and pedestrians, such as interstate highways.
  • Establishes a temporary statewide task force a) to review existing state and county highway design standards and guidelines and b) to propose changes to procedures and design manuals. 
  • Requires task force to report to the legislature.  (See Intervention materials for Complete Streets Legislative Report)

Steps for implementing Hawaii’s Complete Streets policy are sequential: 

  1. State legislation        

  2. County resolutions         

  3. County design guidelines         

  4. Street construction and reconstruction 

State legislation

Formative work/advocacy efforts to enact statewide Complete Streets policy

The advocacy campaign to develop and pass complete streets legislation in Hawaii targeted influential champions and key stakeholders and focused on capacity building through multidisciplinary partnerships.  The campaign carried out activities targeting each level of the socio-ecologic model:

  • Individuals: Community members and developers

  • Interpersonal:  Advocacy groups

  • Institutional/Organizational:  Transport, planning, education professionals

  • Community:  County council members, planning commissioners

  • Public policy:  State legislators and top departmental officials

Over the course of two years, networking and capacity building sessions were held with various complete streets stakeholders, including community members, planners, and policymakers. Sessions were facilitated by expert consultants as well as local advocates. Participants learned about connections between the built environment, active transportation and health. These educational sessions helped grow stakeholder support for complete streets (and Safe Routes to School), which led to the ultimate passage of Act 54, statewide enabling legislation for complete streets.

Center TRT recommends that public health practitioners interested in tips for successful passage of a statewide complete streets policy read, A Comprehensive Multi-Level Approach for Passing Safe Routes to School and Complete Streets Policies in Hawaii, which is posted in the Intervention Materials section. 

Hawaii Complete Streets legislative language

The National Complete Streets Coalition (NCSC) has developed a model policy outline or menu for state complete streets legislation.  This policy outline presents recommendations in 14 separate areas for states to consider when writing legislation.  Hawaii’s legislation fares favorably when compared with the national coalition’s recommendations. Both the NCSC outline and Hawaii’s legislation are provided in the Intervention Materials section. To track Hawaii’s conformity to model policy recommendations, look for the state abbreviation, HI, in the model policy outline.  

State statute as enabling legislation

Hawaii Complete Streets legislation authorizes appropriate officials to implement or enforce the law; it does not provide funding for street improvements. The adoption of a complete streets policy ensures that transportation planners and engineers consistently design and operate the entire roadway with all users in mind, including bicyclists, public transportation vehicles and riders, and pedestrians of all ages and abilities.  Complete streets programs are funded through existing, mainstream Federal Highway funding programs.

County resolutions

Hawaii state legislation requires county departments of transportation to adopt their own complete streets policy.  Kauai County, one of four counties in Hawaii, was the first to pass a Complete Streets Resolution.  In September 2010, the Kauai County Council unanimously passed Resolution No. 2010-48 to establish a county complete streets policy (see Intervention Materials for the Resolution).  The passage of the resolution was an important and necessary first step to ensure that the intent of the state law becomes reality.

Kauai County has a Nutrition and Physical Activity Coalition — Get Fit Kauai, which created four task forces to address the coalition’s priorities. The Built Environment Task Force (BETF), one of the four, became the lead organization for passing the Kauai County Complete Streets Resolution. The BETF worked closely with the mayor, a complete streets champion. The success of the BETF can be attributed in part to its membership, which includes representation from constituencies essential to getting things done:  two county council members, representatives from the county departments of Planning, Housing, Building, Parks and Recreation, Public Works, Heath, Disabilities (ADA Office), Elderly Affairs, Fire, Police, state Transportation Office, and community representatives.   

The Task Force debated initially whether to ask the Kauai County Council to pass a complete streets resolution or an ordinance. The Planning Department recommended developing a resolution and crafted appropriate language.  The Kauai County Complete Streets resolution passed unanimously, receiving all seven council members’ votes. While pleased with this success, the BETF does not think the resolution is strong enough and is now actively planning for a county ordinance that will carry the weight of law.                                        

Design standards and guidelines

State-level activity:  Mandated Complete Streets Task Force

Hawaii state legislation called for a Complete Streets Task Force, which recommended the use of agency review to enforce the policy, including review of city, county and state planning documents and projects.  To encourage the incorporation of complete streets design treatments in roadway projects, the task force recommended that agencies ensure that zoning codes, design guidelines and manuals, and other regulations and ordinances be consistent with Complete Streets Policy. The State Department of Transportation has a role in revising state and county roadway standards to ensure uniformity across counties.  (For more information, see Complete Streets Task Force Legislative Report, November 2010 in the Intervention Materials section.)

County-level activity:  Kauai County Complete Streets Implementation Committee

In Kauai County, the Built Environment Task Force formed a complete streets implementation committee http://www.getfitkauai.com/built-environment.html.  The implementation committee sought the assistance of the National Complete Streets Coalition, which came to Kauai and presented an implementation workshop for county and state officials. This workshop was the catalyst needed to get the different county departments to work together. The county’s first complete streets implementation project was low cost: the restriping of upcoming road resurfacing projects for bicycle lanes. 

The County Planning Department is updating the General Plan to include a Complete Streets component in their scope of work, allowing the county to direct funds to implement Complete Streets as part of capital improvements.  The Department of Public Works will update roadway standards. 

Street construction and reconstruction

Kauai County is considering using some streets as pilot projects.  The County knows it must lead the way in improving the pedestrian environment in urban centers.  A few streets in the county seat are due for redesign.

Policy enforcement and monitoring for compliance

State legislation delegates to the state and county departments of transportation the responsibility for complete streets policy enforcement and monitoring for compliance.

Keys to Success

To pass legislation

  • Partners from various backgrounds/fields/expertise are essential to building the capability to pass the policy.  Ensure strategies are in place for building and maintaining relationships among partners and stakeholders.

  • Identify champions, such as community people or legislators who are passionate about the issue and who will work consistently to make it happen.

  • Develop a high level of buy-in and support for the policy.

To implement the policy

  • Build a coalition of stakeholders – city planners, retail owners, major employers – to coordinate and maximize the use of resources

  • Lay the groundwork for coordination between Planning Department and Public Works Department

  • Transportation planner is needed

  • Monitor local/county efforts (Kauai County relies on its Built Environment Task Force)

  • Provide expert technical assistance to county staff

  • Educate public officials and create awareness of the conditions of streets and sidewalks.  A creative example is the “Mayor’s Walking Workbus” sponsored by Get Fit Kauai’s Worksite Wellness Task Force and the Mayor’s office. This one-day-a-week, two-mile walk encourages and promotes physical activity among the working and school communities. Approximately 30-50 people participate in the weekly walk.

Barriers to Implementation

  • A state-level policy requires the State Department of Transportation to adopt Complete Streets standards, which can be slow to happen.

  • Administrations at both the state and county levels have to commit staff time to Complete Streets implementation, which means funding new positions and hiring more staff.

  • Lifespan of roads - Complete Streets only occurs on new roads or ones that are redeveloped.

  • Exemptions to the state policy are vague and may be granted without continued vigilance of supporters.