April 1993 Home   Newsletters

May 1993

June-July 1993

President's Message (Arlene Ellis)
Statement ... on Central Business District Height Limits
Statement ... Annual Reports on Expenditures
New Charter Planning Provisions to Be Implemented (Astrid Monson)
City's New Planning Director to Speak to League P&Z Committee (Astrid Monson)
Vote Count
Council 1993 - Washington D.C.
LWV of Hawaii Convention - May 15, 1993

President's Message

The outcome of the two proposed public fiascos -- the final derailing of Honolulu's fixed guideway system and the shelving of a State Convention Center at the Aloha Motors and Hobron Lane sites gives us some hope of optimism for the year.

Unfortunately our Congressman and our Mayor still do not appear to understand or to acknowledge that the $700 million "appropriated" for Honolulu's rail system was not set aside for our use, but was subject to Congressional approval annually. All appropriations originate in the House. The $700 million was stretched over a period of 10 years. Each year the House would have to appropriate $70 million. With the national deficit in the trillions of dollars and still climbing, who knows what the actions of the future members of the House would be on transit "pork." Since we never really had it, we did not lose it.

League has for years fought against violation of our zoning laws by allowing increased heights and densities for specific projects. The worst example of this in recent years was the Aloha Motors Convention Center project. League together with other organizations of like mind filed suit against the Developer and the City over the illegal processing in granting` this approval. We are currently in the Supreme Court fighting the unexplained dismissal of our suit in the lower court.

League opposed the establishment of a Resort Mixed Use district of which the Hobron Lane site was one, primarily because such designations was too broad, permitting incompatible land uses, and amounting to a virtual blank check to developers.

Yet our legislators emerged in the 11th hour with what the Advertiser called, "a frightful mutation -- worse, perhaps, than the earlier mistake at the International Market Place" the linking of the two worst examples of the misuse of our planning and zoning laws. Fortunately the legislative clock ran out, of time and whatever "deal" had been struck died temporarily.

Once again, the city is getting into the "ConventionCenter race." The Mayor and the Council's Zoning Chair immediately jumped into the fray and will be trying the revive the "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus" Aloha Motors site. If the monstrosity linked with an overhead bridge located at the corner of Kalakaua and the Ala Wai is an example of the caliber of the kind of "World Class Center" we can expect -- look out!

Encouraging news on the transportation front is that the State budget is providing for study of the "next best alternative to rail transit -- dedicated busways." The budget includes a provision that the city match the $250,00 for the study of the costs, routes, ridership and effectiveness of such a system. The mayor has already voiced his opposition. It is interesting to note that the League's Pro/Con paper on transit promoted "Bus Rapid Transit" three years ago on April 1990.

Another positive step is a Bill passed by the Legislature tightening enforcement of High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lane infractions by allowing for mail-out citations for those single-occupant drivers who violate the law by using HOV lanes during commute hours. Buses and carpools must be given priority on our highways if we are to accomplish our goal to move more people faster and more conveniently. We hope the $75 fine will prove to be enough of a deterrent to offenders who are caught for the first time.

Still more optimistic news is that the Council is calling for an experiment with traffic signal exemption technology that will allow TheBus a green-light triggering devise. The city's computerized Traffic Control Center for coordinating traffic lights is already equipped to accommodate pre-emption for buses and emergency vehicles so implementing this demonstration should not be a strain on our finances. It needs only a desire by the administration to find transportation alternatives that will work. Watching TheBus glide through intersections while cars are stuck in traffic might provide an incentive for those divers to ride TheBus.

The Saga of the Neighborhood Board Elections continue. Willie Espero, executive secretary of the Neighborhood Commission decided to run the N.B. elections with part-time help this year, instead of contracting with the League, citing the need to save money. The fact that his actions to allow the mayor's "straw vote" on rail transit to be mailed out in the same packed as the N.B. ballots cost the city hundreds of thousands of dollars makes this action allegedly to "save about $2000" decidedly unamusing.

Interestingly, the city was fully aware of our position on the fixed-rail project and yet sought us out to count the "straw ballot," even to increasing our contract by 50%. Could it be that the N.B. election is considered to be a minor item as compared to the politically motivated "straw vote"? The 700 plus candidates for Board seats would be unhappy to know that.

We hope the integrity of the N.B. elections will not be compromised by this "moneysaving" actions. We have voiced our concerns over maintaining the security of the ballots -- both those that are voted and blank ballots that are in the possession of the N.B. Commission -- and hope our recommendations will be considered.

Arlene Kim Ellis

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