February 1992 Home   Newsletters

March 1992

April 1992

President's Message (Arlene Ellis)
Annual Meeting
Answering Questions about the League Can Help Increase Membership
Proposed Budget FY 1992-1993
League of Women Voters Presents (Dee Lum)
Nominating Committee Report - 1991
Another Unpublished Letter to the Editor
Legislators and Public Wising Up on Rail (George Mason)
1992 Development Plan Amendment Package (Astrid Monson)

Legislators and Public Wising Up on Rail

People are not as dumb as some bureaucrats may think. An opinion poll last year gave the impression that a majority of the public were in favor of "mass transit"- however that might have been interpreted at the time.

Well, several legislators, sensing that maybe public opinion was no longer being formed out of ignorance, have surveyed constituents on this and other subjects. And while the results don't surprise us in the least, they will be cause for concern at Honolulu's City Hall.

Rep. Kenneth T. Hiraki's district covers Downtown and Kakaako. He recently sent 5,000 questionnaires to his constituents and had a 35 percent response (extremely good, considering they had to pay the postage to return their forms).

What Hiraki learned, among other things, is that 67 percent do not want "an increase in the excise tax to help fund fixed-rail mass transportation system."

Rep. Clarice Y. Hashimoto asked a string of questions about "the mass transit system" of her 42nd district constituents, who are in the Aiea and Pearl Harbor areas. She surely must have been surprised at the overwhelmingly negative réactions.

Hashimoto received more than 800 responses to her survey, which covered nine subjects but went into the rail transit topic extensively. Her constituents don't want it, won't use it and don't want to pay for it - in spades!

More than 63 percent of the 42nd district folks say they are not "in favor of building the proposed mass transit system for Honolulu."

And 73.5 percent are not "willing to have your taxes increased to pay for the building of the mass transit system." Further, a whopping 78.9 percent are not willing to have taxes increased to pay for its operation.

The key question, "Will you use the mass transit system?" garnered a 63.2 percent "no" response. Of the 32.4 percent who said they would, only 14.7 percent said they'd use it daily and almost one out of four said they'd use it once a month!

Word is that other legislators are finding out that the public has not been fooled by our daily newspapers or the city administration on the railroad.

Wait until the people see the kind of visual pollution they're going to have. People already exposed to the size of the elevated stations (a city block long and 55 feet wide and rising to a height of a six-story building) have expressed astonishment at how the aerial stations will dominate our skyline. As one observer has noted, "lust imagine putting the Alexander & Baldwin building on 25-foot stilts." Of course, you'll also need a big chunk of street-level property to provide stairways. escalators and elevators. And where will the buses park to pick up the rail passengers at those 22 destinations?

As the public gets a clearer picture, and not a clever artist's renderings of sleek ribbons festooned with lavish plantings, they'll become even more emphatically anti-rail. Even people who are all for it have told us frankly that there's no way they would use it. It's always for "the other guy."

In this election year. legislators have little choice but to listen to their constituents. And they are telling them to kill the whole silly idea.

More to come.

George Mason
Publisher, Pacific Business News

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