A measure allowing Mayor Kirk Caldwell to move forward with the contentious $345 million Ala Wai flood mitigation project was approved 5-3 by the City Council Executive Matters and Legal Affairs Committee this afternoon.
That set up a full Council vote on Resolution 19-182 for later today. But because the EMLA Committee is comprised of all nine members of the Council, the vote is expected to be the same.
After a slew of residents from Makiki to Kapahulu raised concerns that the project may increase the likelihood of flood damage in communities upstream from Waikiki, Caldwell made an unscheduled appearance at the meeting and warned committee members that $245 million in federal funds for the project could be lost if the measure were rejected.
Gov. David Ige has agreed, in principal, to use stater coffers to pay the “non-federal” $125 million share of the project, despite the Legislature’s decision to reject funding for it.
EMLA Committee members Carol Fukunaga, Heidi Tsuneyoshi and Kymberly Pine voted “no” while EMLA Chairman Ron Menor was joined by Council Chairman Ikaika Anderson and members Brandon Elefante, Joey Manahan and Tommy Waters in voting “yes.” Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi, who was absent, had indicated she would vote “no.”
Several Council members said they’re worried that the city would be stuck with paying the $125 million share if the state does not provide its share.
Caldwell called that scenario highly improbable since it would adversely affect the state’s bond rating.