In 1995 & 1996 a series of workshops, open to all Mānoa residents and well publicized through the newsletters and brochures distributed to all residents, led to the decision that community support was strong for protection of the tree lined streets, period architecture, mountain vistas, and quiet residential character of the valley. A Design Guidelines Committee, chaired by John Whalen, recommended the creation of a Manoa Valley Special District by city ordinance, in order to establish zoning rules designed specifically for the unique features of Manoa. In January 1995, the proposed ordinance was submitted for preliminary review to the City Department of Land Utilization. To publicize a crucial workshop of the proposed ordinance in June 1995, a one-page flyer was distributed by a canvass walk to almost every home in the valley, summarizing the proposed draft and inviting all residents to attend. In addition, 7,000 were mailed to every registered voting household in Mānoa, to assure that no one could say they were not informed.
Additional workshops, again well publicized, were held and revisions made to the proposed ordinance in order to meet concerns on restrictions of lot coverage and front-yard standards. While the Mānoa Neighborhood Board and a large number of Mānoa residents approved of the concept of the proposed guidelines, the lack of a consensus among the residents led the Board of Directors to delay submission of the proposed ordinance in order to allow time to further inform residents of the need for the ordinance and the consequences of no action.
“Mānoa: A Community Guides Its Future,” a 12 minute 1996 video captures the memories, personal histories and hopes for the future of eight Manoa residents and admirers. Against the panorama of the valley’s verdant Ko’olau Mountains, residents explain the need for a Special District Ordinance to protect this historic rainforest community.