Hawaii Problems with Housing Density, pt. 2 of 5: Crime & Dogs

five-story apartment buildings probably located outside the U.S. from the cobblestone streets and unusual street signs
Is high-density housing really more environmental and better for Hawaii? Have we considered local values and needs? Photo by Andreas Dress on Unsplash.

This is part 2 of a five-part series on higher density housing in Hawaii. Parts two to five address Hawaii’s seven issues that discourage higher density housing and the goal of reducing cars.

Part 1 A summary of guest lecturer Allison Arieff’s presentation on pros and alternatives for housing density

Part 2: Crime and Dogs

Part 3: Neighborliness and Multi-generational Living

Part 4: Technology Interference and Homeless Park Use

Part 5: Cars for Families with Children and Elders


Are urban planners exchanging the idea of environmentalism for the reality of higher crime? Current crime maps of Oahu shows the obvious: most crime occurs where most of the people are.

These crime maps show crimes reported to the Honolulu Police Department in a one-mile radius, within a four-week period from 4/17-5/14/2019.

Higher crime often goes with higher density. Despite urban planners’ support of higher density and mixed-use housing, criminologists point out that this actually puts criminals in closer proximity to potential victims. Routine Activity Theory is a widely accepted model of criminal behavior.

Knowing who should and shouldn’t be on your street deters crime. It is difficult to be familiar with your neighbors if there is a high turnover from renters or there are just too many people to recognize by sight. In his book What Every BODY Is Saying: An Ex-FBI Agent’s Guide to Speed-Reading People, Joe Navarro called NOPs (nosey old people) the ultimate foil to a break-in plan because they’re always there and they pay attention. I will revisit NOPs in part three of the series.

Dogs not welcome in rentals

golden retriever in down position on grass with white flowers
Dogs need grass to play and do their business. Photo by Angel Luciano on Unsplash

It is really hard to find a rental on Oahu that allows pets. And the few that do usually only allow cats or have a 35 lb. (small dog) size limit. With renting households outnumbering (56.1%) owner-occupied households in Honolulu and approaching half (41.48%) in the state overall, a higher density plan for Hawaii’s future would be distinctly dog-unfriendly.

Aging dog owners prefer houses

Image by Henriet Haan from Pixabay

Our aging population means pet ownership is especially important for prolonging health and wellness, which in turn reduces the cost of long-term care. Caring for a pet helps retirees stay mentally fit while walking the dog and socializing with other dog owners is good for physical and emotional health.

Dog owners prefer to age in their original homes over living in smaller units. Some retired dog owners in Mililani and Pearl City live in townhouses but most remain in their original single-family homes.

Pig hunters and high density housing don’t mix

A truckbed covered with a cage to transport five hunting dogs and the large, hairy, dead boar tied to the top.
Transporting successful hunter dogs and their prey. Photo by Woodrow W on huntrdrop.com.

Hawaii pig hunters with dogs can’t live in higher density housing. Pig hunters use a lot of dogs that need living and training space. Hunters also need a yard to dress and clean pigs. They use a specially adapted truck with a cage-covered bed to take the dogs to the trails. They cannot give up their vehicles, their animals, or their space for environmental reasons: they perform a necessary service culling an invasive species that alters the habitat and harms the ocean, coral, trails, and endangered birds.

Heat, grass, and yards

dog paw
Hot sidewalks can burn doggy paws. Image by Tiinuska from Pixabay

Sidewalks in apartment and condominium zoned neighborhoods get hot and harmful to dogs’ paws at certain times of day. But if your dog has been cooped up inside all day it needs to get out.

Developments with grassy areas usually do not have enough grass for multiple dogs to do their business and for children to play on. Without grass to go on, dogs pee on other dogs’ pee on the sidewalk, which retains and amplifies the smell on a hot day.

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

Dogs waiting in kennels or inside apartments all day can develop bladder
issues from holding their pee that long. Some townhouse units have yards, but
most apartments do not. Doggy daycare is available but is it elitist to expect
dog owners to use it instead of building family- and pet-friendly
neighborhoods? Higher density housing for humans means a more restricted life
for dogs.

Locals really love their dogs. They are pets, companions, service dogs, burglar deterrents, and hunting animals. People will not live somewhere that reduces their or their beloved pet’s quality of life if they can afford otherwise.

What about you?

Does your neighborhood have a lot of break-ins or property crime? If you are a dog owner, do you live in a house or an apartment and how do you like it?

Next up, Part 3: Neighborliness and Multi-generational Living


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