Residential towers would be permitted to rise on six blocks instead of three in Kakaako makai of Ala Moana Boulevard under an amendment proposed to a bill Thursday afternoon at the Legislature.
The suggested revision to Senate Bill 3122 was made in a conference committee of House and Senate leaders charged with settling differences on the bill intended to give the state Office of Hawaiian Affairs the right to develop high-rise housing on some land it received two years ago to settle a debt with the state over ceded-land revenues.
Most drafts of the bill passed by Senate and House committees in recent months limited residential development to three OHA parcels and doubled the height limit to about 400 feet on two lots.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, conference committee members talked about making relatively minor revisions to the bill. Then after reconvening Thursday, the committee chairwoman representing the House, Rep. Cindy Evans, suggested redrawing the area that would allow residential use.
Evans suggested that a more uniformly defined area for residences in Kakaako-makai would be created by allowing high-rise housing on all blocks between Ilalo Street and Ala Moana, and doubling the height limit to about 400 feet for the new zone.
The change would cut out one OHA parcel — a piano-shaped block just makai of Ilalo — from the residential zone, while bestowing residential zoning on four other blocks — all of which are owned by Kamehameha Schools.
OHA Trustee Peter Apo said it was good that OHA would at least retain two parcels for residential development under the proposed change, though he also expressed apprehension because the additional blocks for residential towers would exacerbate opponents of SB 3122 who want all of Kakaako-makai to keep its existing zoning limited to commercial buildings up to 200 feet.
Michelle Matson, a member of the group Save Our Kakaako opposing SB 3122, called the proposed change appalling.
“It’s worse than before,” she said of the bill. “We’re not going to be able to see the mountains from the shoreline.”
Senators on the committee are mulling over the proposal and are scheduled to return at 6 p.m. to reconvene conference committee discussions.