comscore 2022 Election: Ron Menor | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Election

2022 Election: Ron Menor

  • Ron Menor
Name on ballot:

Ron Menor

Running for:

Honolulu city council – District 8

Political party:

No answer submitted

Campaign website:

ronmenor.com

Current occupation:

Attorney

Age:

66

Previous job history:

Law Clerk, Hawaii Supreme Court; State Deputy Attorney General; Private Attorney

Previous elected office, if any:

city councilmember, District 9; state senator; state representative

Please describe your qualifications to represent the people of Oahu.

Our city faces significant challenges requiring effective and experienced leadership which I have established through my record as a former Honolulu City Councilmember and state legislator. Additionally, I have devoted countless hours volunteering for civic causes and supporting numerous community organizations. The time spent in the community provides me an in-depth understanding of the needs and concerns of the people I serve.

What is the most pressing need for the people you seek to represent, and what will you do to address that need?

One of my top priorities will be to continue my work to facilitate the creation of more affordable housing opportunities for local people. This is especially important for many of our young people who are having to move away from Hawaii because they cannot afford our high housing costs. While there is no panacea, I am committed to a multi-faceted approach including the following: (1) approving more housing projects through the 201H process; (2) utilizing city land; (3) providing financial and other incentives for affordable housing development; (4) developing and implementing rent-to-own housing options; (5) tapping our city’s Affordable Housing Fund to refurbish distressed properties for affordable housing; (6) rehabilitating our city’s inventory of affordable rentals; (7) expanding our city’s accessory dwelling unit (ADU) program which I helped to create; and (8) more effectively enforcing our short-term rental ordinance to reduce the number of illegal vacation rentals that remove housing stock from our communities.

Rising inflation has significantly worsened Hawaii’s already high cost of living. What can be done at the county level to help Oahu residents cope with high consumer prices?

Again, city government must be more proactive in addressing our affordable housing crisis because escalating housing prices are a major contributor to our high cost of living. We also need to hold the line on taxes and fees and increase real property tax exemptions for local residents, including seniors living on fixed incomes.

What specific solutions do you propose to combat homelessness and to make housing more affordable to residents?

There is no single solution. It will take a range of solutions to more effectively address this difficult and complex societal problem. These solutions should include relocating homeless individuals to low cost, temporary shelter facilities or structures where the homeless would also have access to social services and treatment for mental health and addiction issues that contribute to their homelessness; supporting proactive social service outreach to the homeless; continuing to provide Section 8 and rapid rehousing rental assistance to individuals who are homeless because they cannot afford market rents; further improving our Assisted Community Treatment (ACT) laws to facilitate treatment of the chronically homeless who suffer severe mental illnesses and substance abuse problems; and building more truly affordable housing.

What reforms, if any, would you propose to make local government more transparent to the public?

It has always been my position that legislative bodies, such as the Honolulu City Council, and all city agencies, boards and commissions must fully comply with the requirements of our sunshine laws by conducting their deliberations and decision-making in meetings that are open to the public and which afford concerned residents adequate opportunity to be heard.
Government officials should also reduce or eliminate costs charged to individuals making copies of government documents.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, what should city government do to help protect residents’ health?

Although rates of COVID-19 related hospitalizations and fatalities continue to fall in Hawaii, I am concerned the virus remains highly contagious and pervasive in our communities. Therefore, our state and city need to remain vigilant and prepared to implement precautionary measures to ensure that the spread of COVID-19 does not jeopardize public health. These measures should include improved communications about the state of the pandemic in our islands; continued monitoring by public health officials of case counts, hospitalizations and fatalities; and collaboration between federal, state, and county governments to ensure that COVID-19 testing, vaccinations, and anti-viral treatments are readily available to the public.

What should city government do to help residents who have been economically affected by the pandemic?

It troubles me that many individuals, families and businesses have not fully recovered from the negative economic impacts of the pandemic. Therefore, city government should undertake actions to alleviate our high cost of living that exacerbates the financial challenges that many of our residents are experiencing. City government should also continue to provide funding to non-profit organizations that provide critical services and assistance to individuals and families who are financially struggling and living paycheck to paycheck.

Do you support or oppose the current plan to stop construction of the rail project in Kakaako instead of near Ala Moana Center? Please explain.

I support continuing to build the rail system to the Kakaako (Civic Center station) location as an interim terminus if HART’s revenue projections are accurate that actual and projected federal, state, and city revenues will only be sufficient to cover the costs of constructing rail to Kakaako. I would also like to see alternate, less expensive design and engineering solutions considered, including reducing non-essential features at stations that add considerable cost to the project. However, as construction proceeds, city officials should undertake serious discussions with federal and state officials about alternative funding mechanisms and the financial feasibility of extending rail beyond Kakaako to the Ala Moana Center, as proposed in the final EIS for the project.

Do you support or oppose using new city funds to cover any shortfall in HART’s construction or operating costs? Please explain.

I support the decision of the Mayor and the current city council to allocate a portion of the revenues generated from the 3% transient accommodation tax (TAT), which the Legislature authorized the city to impose, for rail construction. The Council also has the authority to use TAT revenues to cover rail operating costs.

Do you support or oppose the plan to dismantle the Stairway to Heaven? Please explain.

I support the plan that was approved by the Mayor and current city council given the inability of city officials and proponents of the stairway to arrive at a consensus on a workable and realistic plan to safely operate and manage this hiking attraction, notwithstanding many years of discussion about the issue within the community.

Is there anything more that you would like voters to know about you?

I remain committed to public service as a way of giving back to our special island community in which I have been fortunate to live, work, and raise a family. Moreover, I have always been a strong advocate for changes that our communities want and need and will continue to do so if I am elected to the city council.

Do you support or oppose the newly revised city law to combat vacation rentals that violate zoning regulations, and do you think it can be effectively enforced?

The effective implementation and enforcement of our city’s short-term rental law was a top priority of mine, as the Chair of the City Council’s Zoning, Planning and Housing Committee.
In this regard, I support the amendments that were made to the law as contained in Bill 41 (2021), CD2 which the City Council passed and the Mayor signed into law as Ordinance 22-7.
The newly revised law will have the effect of reducing the number of vacation rentals operating in our neighborhoods and thereby make it easier for the City Department of Planning and Permitting (DPP) to monitor their activities and enforce the law. Moreover, the ordinance includes stronger penalties to deter the proliferation of illegal short-term rentals in our communities.

Do you think more needs to be done at the city level to manage tourism? If so, what would you propose?  

As a councilmember, I supported the implementation of impact fees for visitors at Hanauma Bay in order to generate revenues for the maintenance and preservation of the bay, as well as indirectly to reduce the influx of tourists to this popular destination at more sustainable levels. I would support the implementation of impact fees at other heavily visited tourist areas throughout our island based on the Hanauma Bay model.

What can city government do to mitigate the affects of sea-level rise on Oahu?

As a councilmember, I supported measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change by reducing our dependence on fossil fuels. For example, the city’s plans for the electrification of our bus fleet were adopted during my time on the council. Moreover, as the Chair of the Zoning, Planning and Housing (ZPH) committee. I worked with my colleagues to amend the Land Use Ordinance to facilitate the installation of solar water heaters and electric vehicle chargers in new single and multi-family residential development projects. In addition, my ZPH committee considered the impacts of sea-level rise in reviewing the appropriateness of proposed development projects adjacent to the shoreline. If I am afforded the opportunity to serve on the city council once again, I would like to continue my work on these important environmental concerns.


View more candidate questionnaires or see more 2022 Hawaii elections coverage.
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