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Hawaii News

Transit authority, housing office pass

Oahu voters approved yesterday the creation of new city government agencies to oversee the $5.5 billion rail transit project and to coordinate public housing programs.

In all, voters approved all six proposed amendments to the Honolulu City Charter.

The question with the highest profile was the proposal to create a Public Transit Authority to oversee the construction and operation of Oahu’s rail transit system, the biggest public works project in state history.

It will be a semiautonomous city agency, similar to the Board of Water Supply. There would be a 10-member board of directors — including the city and state transportation directors — and an executive director chosen by the board.

The transit authority’s powers will include acquiring land via condemnation (subject to City Council approval), executing contracts, issuing bonds and setting fares.

The initial phase of the rail line will run 20 miles from Kapolei to Ala Moana Center.

Mayor Peter Carlisle appeared in a TV ad in support of the transit authority question.

Voters also approved a proposed amendment to create a new city Office of Housing, whose tasks are now handled by the Department of Community Services.

The office will administer projects regarding affordable housing, senior housing, special-needs housing and homelessness.

The office will also secure and administer funds, grants and loans for affordable housing for low- to moderate-income people or homeless people.

Voters also approved amendments to:

» Tighten conflict-of-interest rules to prohibit a newly appointed city officer from participating in a matter involving that officer’s previous employer for one year.

» Strengthen the Liquor Commission’s oversight and give it more authority to hire or fire its administrator and deputy administrator, who would become nonunion employees on July 1.

» Clarify inconsistent language in rules governing the public initiative process for creating new city ordinances. This will clear up issues such as when a petition may be filed.

» Liberalize the city’s rules on selling off small, no-longer-used items such as office supplies and equipment.


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