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President's Message (Arlene Ellis)
Charter Commission
Charter Commission Approves Ballot Submission of P&Z Changes (Astrid Monson)
League Testifies
Partly Published Letter (Astrid Monson)
Action Alert
Public Health Forum
Good to Hear from Marion Saunders (Marion Saunders)
Voter Service

League Testifies

JUNE 25, 1995

We have long opposed the current rail transit proposal, but even if we didn't we would have to consider the City's application to the Federal government for a $618 million capital grant for the rail transit project premature.

It reminds us of the old saying that if we. only had some ham we could cook up some ham and eggs if we only had some eggs.

Similarly you are saying that if we only had some Federal money we could build a rail transit system if we only had an approved final EIS, if we only had a route we could agree on, if we only had a viable financial plan we could rely on, if we only had Council approval to levy a 1/2% GET surcharge, and if that tax would only escalate enough to raise $1.7 billion in ten years.

As we all know, the Federal budget -- to say nothing of our own State and City budgets -- is stretched to the limit. Our national deficit is running $400 billion a year. Yet we continue to call upon Congress to give us all kinds of expensive goodies, whether we really need them or not. And our representatives like doting parents, don't want to deny us anything, buying our love with costly presents charged to our future VISA accounts and payable by us.

Your draft EIS shows no case for building this rail system. You admit it will have no significant effect on traffic congestion, on air pollution, on energy usage. You admit it will only increase transit ridership in the year 2005 by 1 1/2% of the total trips made on any given day. You admit that only 5% of all trips on the island would even use rail on any given day. You admit there would be adverse aesthetic effects, adverse noise impacts, and years of construction inconvenience. Your current preferred route will not even serve our two greatest concentration of potential rail riders -- the core of downtown, and Waikiki.

Our main concern, however, is one of priorities -- the schools, health care, help for the poor, the elderly, the homeless, repairs to our aging infrastructure -- which we will not be able to finance if we commit ourselves to the billions of tax funds this project will cost the City and State in the years to come.

If we cannot convince you to hold off on the application or better yet, to file it, then we will have to urge Congress to do so and use the money for more urgent needs or to reduce the deficit.

JULY 8, 1992

The provision of affordable housing is a laudable objective, but we have a number of problems with Bill 151:

  1. Land near the stations, especially in the main corridor of the rail line, is expensive and will become more so if the line is built. Providing 60%--or even 30%--of the units at prices or rents which low-mod income families can afford is not, in our opinion, economically feasible without very large subsidies.

  2. High-rise, high density buildings cost two or three times as much per square foot as low-rise buildings and require much greater subsidies per unit to make them affordable, than low-rise buildings on lower-priced land.

  3. The recapture of increased land values near the stations is, we believe, properly done through taxation, not as impact fees or community benefits, which may well be challenged in Court.

  4. There are considerably cheaper ways to get affordable housing than spending $2.7 billion for a rail system. If affordable housing is intended to sweeten the medicine, we don't think this Bill does much to make it taste any better.


JULY 8, 1992

Tax increase bills are never popular, but we could perhaps support this one if the City had produced any evidence that building a rail guideway would reduce automobile traffic congestion, increase transit ridership, or reduce air pollution to any significant extent. But both the 1990 AA-EIS and the 1992 DEIS, show that rail's effect by 2005 in all three of these respects is in the 1% to 2% range when compared with an improved TSM-bus system. How can this justify a tax increase of $1,700,000,000?

The City's latest economic impact report makes the allegation that imposition of the surcharge will cost the average resident only $3 a month, and only $1.70 for those with lower than average incomes. Studies made by the UH Economics Department, the Tax Foundation of Hawaii, and our organization showed far higher costs to Oahu's taxpayers.

The State tax credit far from eliminating the regressive nature of the surcharge, only makes things worse. The credit is in proportion to your income. If you're poor, your credit is $25 a year. If you're rich, you get $210. This is progressive taxation?

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