May-June 1989 Home   Newsletters

July 1989

August 1989

President's Message (Arlene Ellis)
Roe v. Wade
Supreme Court Decision May Have a Chilling Effect
General Membership Meeting
Councilman Gary Gill on Downtown Heights and Rail Transit
Rosalie Goodman Internship Program
Dialog - Honolulu: How High?
Letter to the Editor: Re: Diamond Head Preservation (Mildred Walston)
Studio threatens vow to preserve Diamond Head (Luci Pfaltzgraff)
LVW Presents
Dialog - "Brain Drain"
Kate Kortschak
1989-90 Roster

Councilman Gary Gill on Downtown Heights and Rail Transit

League's Planning & Zoning and Transportation committees joined in inviting Councilman Gary Gill to meet with us on May 25 to explain his views on current planning issues such as increasing downtown height limits to 500 feet and building a rail transit system. These two issues are, of course, closely related, and as both are highly controversial, we wanted to give him, as chair of the Council's Transportation and Economic Development Committee, an opportunity to discuss them with us and answer the many questions Leaguers had on both.

To summarize, his views are as follows:


  1. He supports allowing buildings to go to 500 ft in the core of the Financial District which, otherwise, he feels cannot grow much beyond its present size.

  2. He feels that concentration of downtown functions is preferable to spreading out into adjacent areas or decentralization, since it encourages development downtown of shopping, restaurants, and other "synergestic" effects which depend on proximity and close inter-relationships.

  3. He feels that increasing downtown zoned densities from their present maximum FAR of 7.5 (floor area divided by lot area) to 11.0 would provide more white-collar, well-paying jobs and help diversify and balance the tourist industry's low wages.

  4. As a trade-off, he would want the City to require more ground-level open space, guaranteed protection of downtown historic buildings against redevelopment, and developer contributions to affordable housing and/or economic development projects.


  1. He thinks a rail system is inevitable to avoid traffic "gridlock" and would be even more necessary with a bigger downtown.

  2. He thinks that the city can finance such a system itself without Federal Aid by spending $200 million a. year for five years on capital costs, and paying the annual operating costs out of fare receipts.

  3. The $200 million a year, he feels, is not out of proportion with the State surplus, and revenue bonds are another source of funds.

  4. He feels that ridership projections are of little, if any, importance, as patronage will grow if related measures--high downtown parking fees, high gasoline taxes, feeder buses, and other measures encourage people to use the rail system.

  5. If the Environmental Impact Statement is completed as scheduled, in October, he thinks the Council can make its decision within a few months, and that construction can begin within a year or year and a half and be completed in five years.

  6. He strongly supports a publicly owned and operate a system rather than, as is now being discussed, a private one built "at no cost to the city" in exchange for "development rights at stations."

The meeting was intended as a "question-answer" session and not a debate. As time goes on, undoubtedly many basic questions on both the above issues will have to be answered. The arguments pro and con will be presented to the League members by the two committees involved.

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