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February 2009

Fight to Uphold a Sense of Community (Elizabeth Reilly)
December Planning Meeting
Lawyers Honor Jean Aoki
Mikulina Accepts Monson Award... and Plays it Forward (Elizabeth Reilly)
Will Real Estate Taxes Go Up? (Charles Carole)
Welcome New Members
Calendar of Events

Fight to Uphold a Sense of Community

Bill 6, which is now making its way through the City Council, proposes to legalize thousands of now illegal so-called bed & breakfast (B & B) establishments in residentially zoned neighborhoods. Why is the City Council seeking to legalize existing infractions instead of focusing on enforcing our existing ordinances?

Bill 6 represents spot zoning and is the antithesis of good planning. The League of Women Voters of Honolulu has always been a strong supporter of a General plan for Oahu and of the Community Development Plans for each district. The League also supports zoning ordinances which ensure that zoning is consistent with an adopted plan. Although plans are only guidelines for development, they are strong guidelines.

Elected officials should have compelling reasons to override an adopted plan. In our opinion, the proposed Bill 6 runs roughshod over both the plans and zoning. Areas in a plan are designated residential for a reason - these are where residents live. They are distinct from commercial areas where businesses are clustered together.

We do not allow a car repair facility to be built in the middle of an area of single-family homes because we know it will degrade the quality of the neighborhood. Similarly, we designate areas for hotels for the same reasons. Bill 6 would violate this policy by allowing large numbers of essentially small hotels and vacation rentals anywhere in any neighborhood.

The League also has a long history of supporting public participation and transparency in government decisions and wholeheartedly endorsed the establishment of Neighborhood Boards as a vital contribution to the decision making process. We cannot understand how Bill 6 has come this far over the objections of the Planning Commission and without the support of a single Neighborhood Board. In fact, seven Neighborhood Boards have voted unanimously on this issue and all of them have voted against legalizing bed and breakfast establishments.

Legalization and expansion of bed and breakfast operations in residential areas will undermine the very notion of neighborhoods. What purpose is a Neighborhood Watch or Community Policing when the neighbors change every few days? Short term rentals undermine the whole concept of neighborhoods.

Our final concern is why this is before the Council at all. Who is advocating for more tourist facilities in residential areas? Especially now, when our hotels are laying off workers. Why does the City Council want to expand visitor facilities when we cannot fill the rooms we have? We respectfully request that Bill 6 be tabled and the City stop trying to legalize existing infractions. Where is the public interest in this piece of legislation that favors the few at the expense of the many?

Elizabeth Reilly

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