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Lawmakers reject OHA's bid for Kakaako towers

By Andrew Gomes

LAST UPDATED: 07:23 p.m. HST, Apr 25, 2014

The state Office of Hawaiian Affairs was denied in its bid to develop residential towers on a couple of large parcels in Kakaako Friday evening after House leaders in the Legislature dramatically altered a bill sought by OHA and then rejected that draft citing a lack of support from OHA.

The death of Senate Bill 3122 decided one of the most controversial bills at the Legislature this year, and came after three days of negotiations in a joint House-Senate conference committee that was capped by a long day of suspense.

OHA officials were clearly frustrated by how SB 3122 was treated, while opponents of allowing residential use on OHA land in Kakaako makai of Ala Moana Boulevard rejoiced in the bill's fate.

"It's unfortunate how things went down," said Kawika Burgess, OHA's chief operating officer. "I'm disappointed."

OHA, a state agency established to benefit Native Hawaiians, had sought permission to develop residential towers on a portion of nine Kakaako-makai parcels that the state conveyed to the agency in 2012 to settle a long-disputed debt over ceded-land revenues owed by the state

OHA sought SB 3122 because residential development can produce more income for its programs and services benefiting Native Hawaiians. The agency insisted that development on its land would have been done in a way that balances commerce and culture without inhibiting public access to the shoreline.

SB 3122 opponents argued that OHA shouldn't be seeking additional income because it accepted the Kakaako land as an asset valued at roughly $200 million and limited to commercial development.

Earlier Friday, OHA officials announced that they did not support a proposed amendment from House leaders that would have broaden an area in Kakaako makai of Ala Moana Boulevard for residential high-rise development.

The proposal made by Rep. Cindy Evans would permit 400-foot residential towers to rise on eight large parcels between Ala Moana Boulevard and Ilalo Street -- four owned by Kamehameha Schools, two owned by OHA and two owned by the state.

A competing proposal offered by Senate leaders supportive of OHA would have allowed residential towers on just two parcels owned by OHA. Previously, SB 3122 aimed to allow residential development on three OHA parcels.

House Speaker Joe Souki issued a statement saying that committee conferees could not agree on a compromise. He cited OHA's lack of support for the latest House proposal. "We look forward to working with OHA during the interim to find solutions to help maximize the value of OHA's Kakaako properties," he said.

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entrkn wrote:
Why not shelve the whole thing until frivolity evaporates and sounder ideas come forward.
on April 25,2014 | 12:01PM
what wrote:
They pretend to represent Hawaiian interests, but they are all trying to bury Honolulu's last remaining open spaces under more concrete.
on April 25,2014 | 12:39PM
hanalei395 wrote:
The condos will help fund low-rise affordable rental units in the makai lands.
on April 25,2014 | 02:24PM
wondermn1 wrote:
There we go let Maili Shimabukuro destroy Kakaako like she did the Waianae coast on Oahu. it will become a ghetto soon enough with the SCREECHING RUSTING RAIL PROJECT.
on April 25,2014 | 03:10PM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
Maile is right about this making people angry because there was a chance for any public testimony about changing the definition of Kakaako makai. Not quite a gut and replace but a complete slap in the face to folks concerned about the public's right to participate in legislation.
on April 25,2014 | 03:41PM
Papakolea808 wrote:
Maneki Neko, while I am happy the bill is dead, you have me confused. Aren't you the poster who has been singing praises regarding the Howard Hughes project in Kaka'ako? Why do you love that project, but hate the OHA project? Are you worried that the presence of Hawaiians in Kakaako will bring the value of the Howard Hughes project down?
on April 25,2014 | 08:05PM
OldDiver wrote:
These are two separate issues.
on April 25,2014 | 08:42PM
wahinemaoli wrote:
what open space? they can already build high rise office spaces on those properties. There's already buildings and concrete parking lots there now....?
on April 25,2014 | 09:22PM
DiverDave wrote:
Just say NO to any zoning changes for Kakaako! Just say NO to race based legislation!
on April 25,2014 | 12:34PM
OldDiver wrote:
The majority of House members believed OHA didn't make it's case. And you are correct, the bill got this far because everyone was afraid to appear anti-Hawaiian.
on April 25,2014 | 08:48PM
WooWoo wrote:
Once again, I enjoy the rare moment of agreement with OldDiver.
on April 25,2014 | 09:16PM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
I think the situation has become sufficiently scroo'd up that this bad, bad bill will not get out of conference committee.

Imagine changing the goal posts so Kaka'ako Mauka is re-defined to include the Makai lands! Obviously that would be an inane move.

Look, the issue is simple - when you figure in the wide range of allowable projects are the makai lands worth $200 million? OK, so let's take time and get an independent third party team of professionals in to determine that. That means coming up with a development plan and running some forecasts.

Once the 400 towers are built we can never go back. Take the time to really find out what is fact and what is not.

This bill needs to die.

on April 25,2014 | 12:42PM
BluesBreaker wrote:
on April 25,2014 | 07:45PM
MariaBetty wrote:
Kakaako makai zoning should remain as is. OHA should build residences at their Iwilei office and design build a keystone Hawaiian multi purpose cultural center/office as zoned commercial in Kakaako.
on April 25,2014 | 01:02PM
wahinemaoli wrote:
Or they can build highrise office spaces which they can do now - what does it matter if people work or live in them? By the way who are you to tell OHA what it should do anyway?
on April 25,2014 | 09:24PM
false wrote:
OHA wants only OHA to build condos makai of Ala Moana Blvd. To let others build would only dilute OHA's selfish interest. Hey, if OHA can build, so should all others.
on April 25,2014 | 01:33PM
hanalei395 wrote:
"Hey, if OHA can build, so should all others". ........The only other landowner in Kaka'ako Makai, besides the State, is Kamehameha Schools. If KS does want to build, you'd also be squawking like now with OHA. In fact, even more.
on April 25,2014 | 02:09PM
wahinemaoli wrote:
actually the county owns a parcel in makai
on April 25,2014 | 09:24PM
localtodamax808 wrote:
Bingo...you got that right!!
on April 25,2014 | 02:49PM
mcc wrote:
OHA is destroying the land that belongs to the people that they are "supposed" to represent.
on April 25,2014 | 01:49PM
wahinemaoli wrote:
Are they destroying the 28,000 acres of conservation and agricultural lands they own too? How do you think they are supposed to pay for the management of those lands?
on April 25,2014 | 09:25PM
localtodamax808 wrote:
First off...this bill to allow OHA to build residential in Kakaako Makai is ridiculous. The Legislature and OHA agreed to no residential back in 2012 when they accepted the $200M land deal with these conditions. Now OHA is saying $200M is not enough. Allowing residential in these parcels will effectively increase the value of the $200M settlement to (let's say) $400M. It's political!! If the bill passes to allow OHA to build residential, then the additional $200M should revert back the the State's General Fund....NOT to OHA. Also, this bill helps only one entity...OHA. The bill should be open to ALL landowners in Kakaako Makai....including Kamehameha Schools and the State of Hawaii.
on April 25,2014 | 02:47PM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
One thing this bill has done is to turn many people away from OHA who would otherwise be sympathetic. Greed is an ugly thing and it turns people off. Not a very smart move by OHA.
on April 25,2014 | 03:37PM
Lanikaula wrote:
GREED?!? How many INCOME producing projects does OHA have?
on April 25,2014 | 07:57PM
localtodamax808 wrote:
I dont think GREED is the right word. I just think that if OHA wanted to get the best deal to settle the ceded lands issue, then they shouldn't have settled for the Kakaako Makai lands with the non-residential condition. Plain and simple...OHA messed up by accepting the deal in 2012. Maybe its time to put new ppl in place at OHA.
on April 25,2014 | 08:38PM
wahinemaoli wrote:
not sure if they messed up, what options did they have, wait another 30 years? they sued in 2011 to try and force a settlement, courts rejected it
on April 25,2014 | 09:28PM
Aikea wrote:
And whose fault is this?
on April 25,2014 | 09:05PM
Papakolea808 wrote:
I agree with Lanikaula. How the heck can you make the accusation of greed? OHA doesn't have any income producing projects. I do, however, claim greed on the Howard Hughes project which is going to turn Kaka'ako into Hong Kong.
on April 25,2014 | 08:08PM
wahinemaoli wrote:
That's funny seems like they have a lot of support to me
on April 25,2014 | 09:26PM
false wrote:
Two is a lot?
on April 25,2014 | 10:05PM
wahinemaoli wrote:
okay well maybe they should sell it to someone who didn't promise who will not be as sympathetic to all the NIMBYs
on April 25,2014 | 09:27PM
roadsterred wrote:
We just want our two parcels exempted, not the other six! If residential development for makai Kakaako is good for two parcels, why not the other six? This has turned out to be a farce! Bottom line, no high-rise residential condominiums should be built in makai Kakaako period!
on April 25,2014 | 07:39PM
wahinemaoli wrote:
Yes only highrise office buildings which can already happen on all the parcels now!
on April 25,2014 | 09:28PM
Ken_Conklin wrote:
There's an old 'olelo no'eau which OHA is totally failing to live by: "He ali'i ka 'aina, he kauwa ke kanaka."
on April 25,2014 | 07:41PM
Ken_Conklin wrote:
OHA is rewriting it to say: He ali'i 'o OHA, ke kauwa ka 'aina.
on April 25,2014 | 07:49PM
HealthyandHappy wrote:
OHA has to contribute much more to the re-election of these lawmakers. And it wouldn't hurt to offer them some ghost jobs for the relatives.
on April 25,2014 | 08:18PM
WooWoo wrote:
HealthyandHappy is wise. I'm sure that this is already in the works.
on April 25,2014 | 09:19PM
NanakuliBoss wrote:
Funny the movie clip below defends slavery. Wow.
on April 25,2014 | 11:18PM
DiverDave wrote:
Oh just admit it Boss. YOU LOSE!
on April 26,2014 | 12:17AM
mjoseph wrote:
In the meantime, the sidewalks on Ilalo St., Olomehani St. and Ohe St., are being fully utilized by homeless encampments! Where's the priority?
on April 26,2014 | 07:25AM
kimoneko wrote:
OHA has complained about the people being treated unfairly in the past and that the state should honor its commitments. The same goes for OHA. They should honor their commitment to restrict their develpment to low rise commercial enterprises. Putting in high rise condos takes the beauty of our state away from the people. Also, commercial rents to businesses will produce more profit and will continue being profitable for decades. Residential sales are one and done. This is OHA's first commercial venture and they obviously don't know how to handle this.
on April 26,2014 | 09:07AM
Watergate_Mike wrote:
Supposedly the land is worth $200-million, but if OHA can't build on it as they choose, it is of no value at all. OHA, therefore, owns nothing and once again "the powers that be" triumph over Hawai'i maoli.
on April 26,2014 | 11:13AM
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