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President's Message (Arlene Ellis)
Home Rule in Hawaii
League Testifies
Leaguers Honored with Awards - Ah Jook Ku
Leaguers Honored with Awards - Patricia Tummons
Health Care Position Statement
Annual Meeting

League Testifies

APRIL 22, 1992

The City Charter currently provides for Initiative powers for the voters of Honolulu. The League strongly supports expanding these powers to include the Optional or Legislative Referendum which would enable the people to vote on an ordinance enacted by the Council.

It is extremely important .for the people to have an active role in government, and Initiative and Referendum provide valuable tools to do this. It is important also that the Charter provide for binding referenda generated by the people that can nullify or overturn legislative action as in both the Kauai and Hawaii Charters, as well as nonbinding, advisory referenda.

We support referenda for large capital improvement projects such as H-Power and Transit and large private projects such as the Aloha Motors Convention Center project which needed significant land use and zoning concessions and a special PRU approval which the Director of Land Utilization characterized as spot zoning, that have significant impact on the welfare of the people of Oahu. The people should be given the right to approve or disapprove major Council decisions, and to question the opinions of "experts". In our State and National Constitutions, the people delegate some power to their elected representatives, but always have the right to reserve power to themselves.

We urge you to consider the rights of the citizens of Oahu and provide for Optional and Petition Referendum in the City Charter.

APRIL 23, 1992

The criticisms we made two years ago at the May 8, 1990 Public Hearing and in our written analysis of the AADEIS dated May 22, 1990, were not addressed in the current SDEIS. On the contrary, we can no longer find, as on p. 2 of our 1991 analysis, that the DEIS is "more objective and credible than its ten-year old predecessor, the AA-DEIS prepared for the HART program."

The 1990 projections showed the increase in transit ridership (over a TSM system) to be minimal (less than one percent of total daily trips); indicated no significant decrease in daily vehicle miles traveled or in air pollution; and showed a Cost Effectiveness Index barely within the Federal requirements.

The 1992's cost projections show an increase of approximately 75% over 1990's estimates after allowance is made for the elimination of Waikiki sector of the rail structure and of the Hotel Street subway in favor of Nimitz above ground. Thus the 1990 ridership projections ,could no longer meet the Federal CEI threshold.

No problem: rail ridership projections with Waikiki eliminated went up 34% (140,100 to 187,000); total transit ridership went up 24% (255,100 to 315,400); fixed guideway trips to and from downtown increased 65% (45,100 to 74,500); and the projected increase in transit ridership over the TSM alternative shot up to 80% (25,500 to 46,000), just coincidentally a little higher than costs increased, thus leaving the projected CEI just about the same as calculated in the 1990 AADEIS.

The justification for these increases in ridership is said to be the 1990 Census which, it is alleged, points to greater population and employment growth than previously expected. This goes quite contrary to State Economist Gregory Pai's statement a couple of months ago to the effect that the State's M-K projections, used by the City as the population variable for the ridership projections, are probably too high and that therefore the then current ridership need to be revised downward.

We cannot in three minutes cover our many other criticisms of and questions about the SDEIS. We will try in our written comments to be submitted by May 7. In the meantime, there is one point we would like to make which we have previously made. Based on a table on p. 5 of Vancouver transit supporter Tom Parkinson's evaluation of the 1990 AA-DEIS, made for the UH study commissioned by the State, we worked out daily rail passengers projected for Honolulu per 1,000 population and compared it with Mr. Parkinson's figures for a number of other U.S. cities with light rail guideways -cities ranging in metropolitan populations of 1,200,000 to 2,900,000, compared with Honolulu's 845,000. Whereas actual rail ridership as shown by Parkinson, was 10 per 1,000 population in San Diego, 13 in Sacramento, 14 in Portland, 23 in Baltimore, 12 in Miami, 13 in Pittsburgh, 26 in Buffalo, projected ridership in Honolulu was 206 per 1,000. With the 1992 rail ridership projection, Honolulu's ration would be even higher. Even with a projected future island population of one million, it would be 188. Rail proponents tell us that Honolulu is a high transit using area, but 10 to 20 times as high as these other, larger metropolitan area?

As they say nowadays, give us a break!

APRIL 28, 1992

We have testified before this Commission on several occasions regarding your Planning Committee's recommendations, which we support in most respects. We recently sent Mr. Whalen our comments on a few technical points, which I will not repeat here. We also questioned the deletion in the March 27 draft, of part of Section 5-407 relating to the General Plan, which we understand may have been in error. We re-emphasize our strong support of including a reference to "the most desirable population distribution and densities," etc.

Other than that, we can only reiterate our support of the Committee's basic recommendations, which are to:

  1. Change the nature of the Development' Plan Amendment process and the Development Plan maps from project-specific to an indication of conceptual planning intent.

  2. Change the annual DP review process to a bi-annual one, or even tri-annual, and eliminate the requirement for a five-year General Plan review.

  3. Strengthen the professional requirements of the two department heads involved.

  4. More closely relate the zoning maps to the development plan maps by having both brought under the Planning Department.

We have greatly appreciated Mr. Whalen's efforts to revise the Charter provisions so as to provide for a more effective planning process and try to end the confusion and duplication which all sectors of the community are suffering -- developers and land-users as well as community groups like ours.

APRIL 28, 1992.

We have testified before this Commission on many occasions and have submitted written testimony on the proposed amendments we support including our rationale for the positions we have taken. Tonight we want to voice a brief summary of those positions. WE BELIEVE:

  1. That an individual serving as Mayor be limited to 2 consecutive terms.

  2. That no term limitations be placed on Councilmembers.

  3. That Councilmembers serve as part-time as citizen legislators.

  4. That the Council be represented as a mixed singlemember and at-large system with the increase of 2 members if at large seats are added.

  5. That a Councilmember should be permitted to abstain from voting when the member faces a substantial conflict of interest in the matter before the Council. This can be interpreted to mean that his vote may cause financial benefit or detriment to him, a member of his household or a business with which he is associated, which is distinguishable from the effects of his vote on the public generally or a broad segment of the public.

  6. That the Council election be non-partisan.

  7. That campaign spending limits be adopted to enable challengers to compete more equitably with incumbents.

  8. That the Charter include language that the provisions of the State Sunshine Law should apply to the Honolulu City Council and the City administration. The basic principles of the State Sunshine Law Chapter 92-1, HRS are: In a democracy the people are vested with the ultimate decision making power. Government agencies exist to aid the people in the formation and conduct of public policy. Opening up the governmental processes to public scrutiny and participation is the only viable and reasonable method of protecting the public's interest. Therefore it is the policy of this State that the formation and conduct of public policy -- the discussions, deliberations, decisions and actions of government agencies -- shall be conducted as openly as possible. The law also states that its purpose is "to protect the people's right to know", the provisions requiring open meetings "shall be liberally construed", and exceptions to open meetings "shall be strictly construed against closed meetings".

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