Public Storage Inc.
Public Storage Inc. (PSI), looking to build on the Kapi‘olani corridor at a time when other projects were mired in controversy, sought public relations counsel at the conceptual design and permitting stages of development. PSI contracted with Hastings & Pleadwell (H&P) for an integrated public relations strategy aimed at opinion, business and community leaders.
H&P’s research identified four major community concerns: traffic, infrastructure (sewers, water, street improvements, public parking), graffiti, and potential archeological materials or artifacts, including bones. Potential opponents were identified and researched, including Hui Malama I Na Kupuna o Hawaii-Nei, Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation, unions, Citizens Against Reckless Development, and individuals living and working in the area.
H&P worked with PSI on an effective community outreach plan. Clear concise talking points included one that addressed the issue of human remains. In consultation with H&P and other specialists, PSI voluntarily evaluated its site for pieces of history and set an appropriate protocol, even though such an archeological inventory was not required in the permitting. H&P outlined the best approaches for groups, agencies, and individuals to deal with their concerns. PSI leadership was coached for interviews, and H&P tailored messages to audiences and sensitivities.
The response from the community was generally positive, once PSI’s archeological survey methods were made clear. These methods included a literature and map search to identify past land uses, an extensive subsurface excavation program, and a final report.
When PSI began its official presentations and community outreach, the WalMart controversy over uncovered human remains at the Keeamoku site was in the news. WalMart representatives made presentations to the Hawaii Community Development Authority (HCDA) Board at the same time as PSI. The difference in approach and preparedness was apparent, illustrating what can happen when sensitive issues are not adequately anticipated.
The PSI project was passed by the HCDA on February 2, 2005. Groundbreaking took place later that year.