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Dozens testify to restrict power of HCDA

By Nanea Kalani

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 05:01 a.m. HST, Feb 09, 2014


Dozens of testifiers -- many wearing bright-red "Save Our Kakaako" T-shirts -- showed up in force Saturday morning at the state Capitol where a House committee began hearing several bills that would restrict the powers of the Hawaii Community Development Authority, which regulates development in Kakaako.

Residents testified before the House Water and Land Committee, saying they don't trust the HCDA and feel that the agency is catering to developers at the expense of infrastructure, traffic and the mauka and makai views of existing residents.

Several high-rise condominium projects in the area have been approved in seemingly quick succession by the authority as private developers seize on the economic recovery and market demand.

One resident noted that 11 developments have been approved in Kakaako in the past year. Another described the HCDA as a "taxpayer-funded lobby for the construction industry."

Others took issue with luxury penthouses designed to lure wealthy mainland and foreign investors when units designated as affordable are priced out of reach of many residents.

Many asked for lawmakers to help reign in the authority's powers and enforce rules that govern density, infrastructure, affordability and smart growth.

"We're not against development. We want Kakaako to flourish and we hope the Legislature will find ways to get the authority back on track," said longtime Kakaako resident Web Nolan.

State House Majority Leader Scott Saiki, who represents Kakaako and sat in on the hearing, introduced a package of eight bills that would restrict the HCDA's power, including a few aimed at sending a message that the authority is moving too fast in approving projects.

Seven of the bills are before the House Water and Land Committee, chaired by Rep. Cindy Evans. She said the committee would hold off deciding on the measures until Tuesday morning.

More than 100 pieces of written testimony had been submitted by Friday night for each of the seven bills, with the overwhelming majority in support of the measures.

The bills run the gamut from an all-out repeal of the HCDA to zeroing out the authority's budget and imposing a one-year moratorium on the approval of plans in Kakaako.

Other measures would create a contested-case process so individuals can challenge HCDA decisions and empower citizens to sue to enforce the authority's rules, and impose legislative oversight over the authority's functions. Another bill would restructure the HCDA's board of directors.

HCDA Executive Director Anthony Ching testified that the agency needs to work with private developers and landowners to increase affordable housing in the area because the state doesn't own much land in Kakaako.

"The only way for us to produce more housing is to influence the private developer to produce additional housing that is 'affordable' according to the rules that we have established. That housing is done without any state subsidy," Ching said. "We're trying to do the best that we can."







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nitpikker wrote:
nimbys. got theirs and don't want anyone else to get what they have.
on February 8,2014 | 09:09AM
kekelaward wrote:
Maybe they just like the view.
on February 8,2014 | 09:55AM
star08 wrote:
It seems from reality, Ching's type of influence does not produce affordable housing. Again from reality, if this is their best then they all should be fired. IRT Ching: "The only way for us to produce more housing is to influence the private developer to produce additional housing that is 'affordable' according to the rules that we have established. ..... "We're trying to do the best that we can."
on February 8,2014 | 07:19PM
serious wrote:
Follow the money. New high rise, more property taxes. Some of the bills get me--one that police officers can't be armed when they take a sip of alcohol--correct? Now, correct me, didn't this same group of legislators pass a pay raise to $4.00 an hour for all police officers/ now that's $4.00 every hour of every day all year around since they are on call/duty continuously. That's $35,000 extra every year for every officer. I was a pilot--when I was on call, I could't drink, yes you get paid for being "on call" just like the police officers, so they can't drink at all, did I read all this right? I wish the CEO of the police force would respond--like he did on not legalizing pot and a lottery because that would cut officers off his force (union) correct?
on February 8,2014 | 09:22AM
GONEGOLFIN wrote:
Actually, for a full time officer the raise would be $8320.00 per year.
on February 8,2014 | 10:51AM
serious wrote:
I guess I got it wrong, I wasn't talking about the raise -- the total compensation: $4 X 24 X 7 X 365 is ???? For just breathing?
on February 8,2014 | 02:57PM
islandsun wrote:
The thing that is bs..... Kealoha expects homeowners to keep footing the bill for raises for his officers yet is afraid that gambling will create more work for him. He is another Hawaiian that sold out. Gambling would give the most money to Hawaiians on a continuous basis without further destruction of the aina and tax overburden to homeowners.
on February 8,2014 | 01:08PM
NanakuliBoss wrote:
Kealoha is another Hawaiian that sold out? Sun? Many people don't want gambling. Let's keep the subject matter on HCDA folks. Stop the senior rambling.
on February 8,2014 | 05:15PM
islandsun wrote:
No senior here Mr. Ambassador to Nanakuli. The most logical place for a casino would be Kakaako so it does involve HCDA anyway its a reply to serious cant you read?
on February 8,2014 | 07:11PM
localguy wrote:
serious - $4 an hour, 24 x 7? Really? No way would this happen. Officers have specific duty hours, no reason to pay anything for off duty time. Where is your reference for this? I know we have some utterly dysfunctional bureaucrats but who in their right mind would try to pass something as expensive and not essential as this? Wait. I just answered my own question. Nei bureaucrats kow towing to a special interest group would do something this stupid. Still, where is the reference?
on February 8,2014 | 05:41PM
tutulois wrote:
Good news that people are turning out on this issue. Let's see if it does any good, or if the deals have already been made.
on February 8,2014 | 09:25AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
It's the same monku-monku old folks from Royal Capitol Plaza and One Waterfront Plaza. They get up and still complain about 801 South Street. Get rid of those folks and 50% of the attendance would be gone.

Thing is, the "red shirts" acted very rude today, mocking anyone who testified against the bills. It was very disrespectful.

Yep...a couple dozen NIMBYs all trying to keep new residents from affordable home ownership. But, hey, this gave the politicians a chance to posture in font of the camera in an election year.


on February 8,2014 | 11:18AM
MANDA wrote:
Thanks to the protesters from this working person who couldn't get off work to sit at the Legislature. Although there is a vocal group that says these people are NIMBYs or otherwise disparages them, I believe they speak for many many more people than are able to get down there in person. And we are not working to keep our Hawaii Kai house and lecture about how Kakaako should have more housing, either.
on February 8,2014 | 09:30AM
Denominator wrote:
Life is like a foot race. These people can't keep up so they want a speed limit on the foot race.
on February 8,2014 | 09:47AM
chryw8 wrote:
speed kills.
on February 8,2014 | 09:55AM
atilter wrote:
beg to differ - it's the SUDDEN unforeseen STOP that kills people who don't pay direct attention to the task at hand.
on February 8,2014 | 12:43PM
Locokane wrote:
The HCDA like other Authority Agencies (HART, HTA, etc.) created and funded by Legislature make decisions that affect the taxpayers with very little accountability of its Board or special term Head. How many HI residents can afford the overpriced condos to be built in Kakaako? HCDA is certainly pro-developer (in island-wide development) without looking at whether existing infrastructure such as schools, roads, sewage and water distribution to support the development are in-place. There is a big time lapse between when the development is done to when the property taxes are collected and the government appropriates the funds to when the additional infrastructure is put in place. In the meanwhile the public suffers and the developers have made their monies and taken their money out of state.
on February 8,2014 | 11:25AM
atilter wrote:
not too loco, kane! right on da mark!!!
on February 8,2014 | 12:45PM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
It was a collection of the same old bunch. Mostly NIMBYs from Royal Capitol Plaza and One Waterfront. Same old red shirt gang but very rude this time.

You had your racist Faye Hanohano talking stink about new arrivals to the islands. You had your lost soul representatives trying to sound like tough questioners when it was clear they had no clue about HCDA or what is going on - looking at you vice chair Lowrey. You had amateur activist Della Au Belati asking about health care and then denying the testifier a chance to answer the question. You had our old buddy Brower who stopped trashing homeless people's carts in order to grandstand before folks he does not even represent. Young guns trying to sound like prosecutors but obviously lacking facts before opening mouths.The only guy went make sense was Calvin Say- -imagine!

An election year show boat and circus sponsored by Saiki and lots of posturing but wasting a lot of time and resources without having done their homework. Too bad because there are things that need change like Transit Oriented Development, like no OHA condos on makai lands, like impact of rail. But instead we got Sesame Street for old Nimbys. Bah!


on February 8,2014 | 11:28AM
RichardFassler wrote:
I heard plenty of criticism at the hearing, but I didn't hear much in the way of any concrete ideas for the future for Kakaako, other than green space and NO high rises. It would be wonderful to turn the entire district into a park, but this just isn't going to happen. Besides the homeless would ruin it. Rep. Hanohano was not happy with HCDA and development in the area, and would obviously like to help Hawaiians (wouldn't we all?). It will be interesting to see if she opposes the Kakaako development plans of two major organizations whose goal it is TO HELP HAWAIIANS—OHA and Kamehameha Schools.
on February 9,2014 | 12:28AM
GoldenRule wrote:
This comment has been deleted.
on February 8,2014 | 12:05PM
atilter wrote:
it has ALWAYS BEEN ABOUT THE MONEY that these carpet-bagging developers can carry out of state. they suck the land dry and leave the costly infra-stucture up-grades to the local tax payers as the out-of-reach-"affordable" units are built. and the under-the-table pay outs to the rubber-stampers keep on keeping on. don't forget the opportunity costs that must swallowed, endured, and PAID by those who live outside and have to travel within/through the kakaako re-development district. we are the money laundry mat for anyone, foreign or other, who needs to turn dirty money into clean money.
on February 8,2014 | 01:03PM
MalamaKaAina wrote:
Neil say it ain't so........Neil tell us you ain't in the pockets of General Growth???
on February 8,2014 | 01:39PM
hikine wrote:
I believe HCDA was solely created to bypass regulatory decision giving it the ultimate authority for development. I wouldn't be surprised if they're getting rewards from developers. By them giving the go ahead the people who live in the area will likely be priced out and have to leave the area.
on February 8,2014 | 12:32PM
Kuokoa wrote:
Why is it that these people always want to control everything yet they don't own anything? HCDA was established to improve the Kakaako district and control development there. Otherwise there WOULD be chaos. The land owners are trying to do what is best for the area. From what I hve seen, they re doing it well.
on February 8,2014 | 05:14PM
star08 wrote:
It seems from reality, Ching's type of influence does not produce affordable housing. Again from reality, if this is their best then they all should be fired. IRT Ching: "The only way for us to produce more housing is to influence the private developer to produce additional housing that is 'affordable' according to the rules that we have established. ..... "We're trying to do the best that we can."
on February 8,2014 | 07:18PM
RichardFassler wrote:
At the hearing today, there was lots of criticism of HCDA by way of telling the Authority how Kakaako is basically going to hell with all those nasty high-rises. It was like this pristine, nature preserve was being desecrated by big Mainland developers with their 22 condos! Strange. I can remember when, not that long ago, Kakaako was considered Honolulu's slum. Its history included salt flats, fish processing and the City's garbage disposal site. It's where things ended up that nobody wanted, and the only souls who ventured within its intimidating confines were people looking to have something repaired, or replaced—like cars and tires. So, HCDA comes along, receives lots of community input and does some exciting planning; works with Howard Hughes--a much-admired real estate development company with a history of awesome projects; encourages local landholders, like Kamehameha Schools, to finally put their holdings to better use; creates thousands of affordable housing units, and provides well-designed and maintained park space; and all-of-a-sudden, everyone wants to live there! And then it gets hit over the head for not doing a good job! I guess if HCDA just left Kakaako the sorry way it was, all those red shirts would be ecstatic.
on February 8,2014 | 11:34PM
RichardFassler wrote:
Added to my other comment, I heard plenty of criticism at the hearing, but I didn't hear much in the way of any constructive ideas for the future for Kakaako, other than green space and NO high rises. It would be wonderful to turn the entire district into a park, but this just isn't going to happen. Besides the homeless would ruin it. Rep. Hanohano was not happy with HCDA and development in the area, and would obviously like to help Hawaiians (wouldn't we all?). It will be interesting to see if she opposes the Kakaako development plans of two major organizations whose goal it is TO HELP HAWAIIANS—OHA and Kamehameha Schools!
on February 9,2014 | 12:26AM
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