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March General Meeting
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Report of Planning and Zoning Committee
Convention Center Issues
Water Conference of Jan. 17, 1986
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Convention Center Issues

The question of whether the Fort deRussy site should be used for a Convention Center was brought before the League's Planning and Zoning Committee at its 2/24 meeting.

The Committee has not used a position to take action on this matter and is not ready to do so, both because our priority policy is to emphasize island-wide issues and legislation and because we have not researched the matter to enough depth.

Three basic issues are involved:

1) Whether a convention center is needed at all on Oahu

2) How it would be financed

3) Where it would be located

1) We have seen no objective evaluation to show the need for such a center. We would want to know the size of the largest conventions the island can now accommodate w/breakdown by size of the conventions annually held here during the past few years. Also needed are national figures: how many conventions a year are there which are larger than the largest we can accommodate; how many cities have convention centers large enough to accommodate them, how do Honolulu's advantages, such as climate, and disadvantages, such as distance, affect the chances of getting these larger conventions; how many such conventions could we realistically hope to get over, say, a ten-year period; how many days a year would the proposed center be used by such conventions; etc.

2) Many proposals are being suggested for public and private financing of a convention center. Can the necessary investment be recovered through a combination - of operating revenues and increased tax proceeds from the activity generated? If not, how much public subsidy would be required and is it justified in terms of the interests benefited?

3) What are the implications for each site suggested, in terms of impact of traffic, over-crowding, loss of open space, alternate land uses, need for new public facilities, required new private investment (hotels, for example), etc. How does location on a neighbor island stack up as against Oahu? What are comparative public costs as between sites? And so on.

The Committee is obviously unable to make the kind of in-depth studies required. A Bill (SB 1884) is in the State Legislature calling for a feasibility study to be made.

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