Bills to boost Kakaako’s tower height limit are cut down
The height limit for new buildings in Kakaako appears to be safe from a dramatic increase proposed in the Legislature, after three committees deferred action on a pair of bills.
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The height limit for new buildings in Kakaako appears to be safe from a dramatic
increase proposed in the Legislature, after three committees deferred action on a
pair of bills.
Key committees last week decided against advancing House Bill 1559 and Senate Bill 1496. That means the bills should be dead this year because they weren’t passed, respectively, to the House
Finance Committee and Senate Ways and Means Committee by a Friday deadline.
The bills sought to allow
at least two towers as high as 768 feet in Kakaako, representing a near doubling of the existing 418-foot height limit, as long as the towers were built near a rail station site and provided extra public benefits negotiated with a state agency regulating development in the area.
Sen. Stanley Chang (D, Diamond Head-Kahala-Hawaii Kai) introduced the Senate bill, and Rep. Ryan
introduced the House bill based on a stated desire to produce a “signature” urban skyline by not having the top
of all the tallest buildings
in Kakaako form a flat and “undesirable” backdrop.
Public reaction to the bills was predominantly negative.
“Hawaii is not Dubai,”
a Diamond Head-Kapahulu-St. Louis Heights Neighborhood Board member, said in written testimony that also called HB 1559 a “gluttonous” proposal.
Community Group Kakaako United suggested that the goal described in the bills could be met by having shorter buildings rise up in the area.
The state Department of Transportation said 768-foot towers would disrupt safety requirements pertaining to passenger planes and pose “a real danger of an aircraft striking a tower by accident.”
The Hawaii Community Development Authority, the agency that regulates zoning in Kakaako, said its board voted Feb. 6 to oppose the proposal.
Criticism also came from two state lawmakers who live in and represent Kakaako: House Speaker Scott Saiki and Sen. Sharon Moriwaki.
HB 1559 was initially passed Feb. 1 in a 5-0 vote by the House Water, Land and Hawaiian Affairs Committee. The House Judiciary Committee deferred the bill Thursday, blocking it from being considered by the House Finance Committee before the Friday deadline.
SB 1496 got deferred Feb. 12 by two Senate committees —Housing, and Water and Land — preventing it from moving to the Ways and Means Committee by the