October 1989 Home   Newsletters

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January 1990

American Voter's Bill of Rights
President's Message (Arlene Ellis)
Honolulu Convention Center II (Astrid Monson)
Planning and Zoning Committee Up-date (Astrid Monson)
Public Participation in the Legislative Process (Evelyn Bender)
General Membership Meeting
League of Women Voters Presents - Choice (Linda Chinn)
Membership and Anniversary Dates
Advertising on Buses
Available for Circulation
Mythology of Growth and Transportation
UPW Vote Count
Editorial from Pacific Business News - 11/20 (George Mason)
In Memoriam
Council Observer Corps

Honolulu Convention Center II

League Viewpoints have expanded to include Public Radio as well as KHVH. "Is Planning Dead in Honolulu?" was the first 3-minute Viewpoint we gave on Public Radio on the week of 10/16, describing the alteration of the General Plan and Development Plans by amendments and/or exemptions by the State and City, and encouraging active public participation in the planning process.

The use of "Development Agreements" to get around planning and zoning regulations was the topic of the Viewpoint for the week of 10/31. We opposed the "vested rights" provisions of the Bill before the Council which opens the way for special deals which can help developers circumvent the planning process and the fact that since both the State law and the proposed bill specify that approval for Development Agreements is an administrative, not a legislative act, it is not subject to public initiative or referendum.

On the week of 11/6 we discussed the right of privacy under the Constitution to make reproductive choices.

Last week we opposed raising building heights from the present 350 feet to 500 feet for downtown and the Aloha Motors Convention Center site. We pointed out that height increases were being accompanied by demands for greater density which would result in less public open space at ground level, or even in the sky between and around towers rising above the multi-storied garage base, because the proposed towers get fatter to a greater extent than they get taller.

This week our Viewpoint is on "affordable" housing. We stress the need to build houses for families with incomes of $20,000, $25,000, and $30,000, who are in trouble and form the bulk of those who need the really affordable housing -- homes costing $60,000 to $100,000.

Next week our topic is the City and State's head-long race to build rival Convention Centers. We question if either one, to say nothing of two, is economically viable or socially desirable, or really needed, or what purpose they are designed to serve. Both Centers are supposedly to be built by private developers at no cost to taxpayers, but both require in return, increases in building heights and millions of square feet of building exceeding zoned densities. Both would require building bulks and heights unprecedented in Honolulu. We ask if the point of all this is to meet a real community need for a Convention Center, or an excuse to give developers the right to build massive projects for profit that could never be built under normal zoning rules.

For any of you who have a burning issue you want aired, call the office and tell us about it and we'll try to fit it in. It would be helpful is the issue is timely and of current interest, and is one on which League has a position, although the latter is not a requirement.

The "other" Convention Center proposal was discussed at the October 30th General Membership Meeting sponsored by League's Planning and Zoning Committee. About 25 Leaguers and guests heard K. Tim Yee, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Queen Emma Foundation, present as much as is known about the State-mandated development on the International Market Place site on Kuhio Avenue, on land owned by the Foundation.

Unlike the Aloha Motors site, no developer of this site has yet been officially chosen, but, according to press reports, the State's Convention Center Authority hopes to issue a call for proposals this month. A group consisting of the present lessees of the site is expected to be one of the leading candidates to build the complex.


  1. The Queen Emma Foundation is a non-profit real estate management subsidiary of the Queen's Health Systems, which provides funds to the Queen's Medical Center and other nonprofit health care services. The International Market Place site, though comprising only 5.2 acres, is by far the most valuable -- the "crown jewel" -- of the Foundation's 18z acres of Waikiki land and indeed of its total holdings of 2,300 acres.

  2. No Convention Center development plan for the site is yet available. The State Legislature intends the 5.2 acre site to be developed with a 625,000 sq. ft. Convention Center, to be given to the State free and clear, in exchange for development rights to build a complex of hotels, condominiums, office and retail space up to a total floor area ratio as high as 13.0. (The site's zoned FAR is a small fraction of that.)

  3. The Foundation would be asked to amend existing leases or agree to new leases of the land, which it is willing to do on certain conditions. Until a specific plan is available, however, and the value of the land can thus be determined, the Foundation is in no position to make an agreement. In addition, the Foundation wants to see feasibility studies, impact analyses, and a longrange plan for the future of Waikiki in the next 50 years. Whether one Convention Center should be built, or two, or none, cannot be intelligently decided without reference to such a plan, he said, and the Foundation is willing to commit resources to its preparation.

  4. The future of Waikiki could be jeopardized if a premature or wrong decision is made as to a Convention Center. The Foundation has an economic interest in avoiding disaster here and, as a partner in the community for 130 years and a major financial supporter of Queen's Hospital and ancillary medical services, has a responsibility to see to it that no hasty decisions are made.

  5. The Foundation has been warned that if it does not cooperate, the State will condemn the land. The Foundation has pointed out that land value depends on what will be built on it. As an eleemosynary institution, the Foundation must maximize its income, all of which is required by law to be used for medical services which do not include a Convention Center. Therefore, the Foundation would resist a low condemnation appraisal based on the present zoning density permitted, if the land is then to be developed by a profit-making private corporation at several times that density.

League will be watching for specific plans for a Convention Center on this site. Meanwhile, the City's Department of Land Utilization is scheduled to make its Recommendations on the Aloha Motors site application by the middle of November.

Astrid Monson
Chair, Planning & Zoning Committee

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