Thursday, October 14, 2010

A Trip to Yesteryear with ‘Always-By-Car’ Slater

You can read Cliff Slater’s anti-transit-oriented development (TOD) (and anti-rail) column in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser today if you want, but to show you that it’s more of the same that you’ve seen from him for decades, here’s a quote from Mr. Slater's column published in the Honolulu Advertiser on November 12, 1998 under the title "City's rail plan is rubbish":

“As this newspaper editorialized (on November 2) 1933, ‘Honolulu is doing what all progressive mainland communities are nowadays doing: getting rid of street cars and replacing them with good size buses … we … will finally progress to the point of abolishing street-car tracks … a vast improvement.’ If we were so glad to get rid of them in 1933, because of the traffic congestion they caused, why do we want to go back to them 60 years later?”

Mr. Slater was reaching back almost exactly 65 years to pre-WW II Hawaii for his anti-rail inspiration, and that helps explain his preference for cars today. Mr. Slater believes in the 20th Century’s technology marvel, the private car. That’s why we call him "ABC Slater" – Always By Car.

Mr. Slater's prominent pro-car position has done more to thwart development of modern alternatives to car commuting in Honolulu than anyone else. Evidence of his earlier efforts is easily found online and pre-dates 1998; here’s a link to the registration of his anti-rail transit testimony before the City Council in 1991 (you'll "find" two listings for "Slater" on the page that comes up).

Rail – a 21st Century Option

Honolulu’s civic leadership is relying on lessons learned from 20th Century mistakes to plan for the century we’re living in -- the one our children and grand-children will inherit.

We learned since 1950 the consequences of developing bedroom communities that depend on the car. We’ve learned more recently about the perils of relying almost exclusively on petroleum-based products to power our transportation. TOD is a future-looking way to prepare for our grandchildren’s inheritance, and so is rail transit.

Mr. Slater won’t go away quietly and already is threatening to sue the city over the rail project once it receives its final regulatory approvals. His antiquated view of the world notwithstanding, a vibrant Honolulu decades from now certainly will require rail and TOD. Both are destined to fulfill their promise.

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