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August 1993

President's Message (Arlene Ellis)
Committee Meetings
Can We Reform Our High Schools?
Planning & Zoning: Testimony (Astrid Monson)
Statement on Bus Fares
Statement on Zoning: Historic Structures
Statement on Convention Center
Testimony on Ewa Marina Zone
Membership Information

Planning & Zoning: Testimony

The Planning and Zoning Committee activities for the latter part of May and June can be gleaned from the testimonies given by League that are found on this and the following pages that speak for themselves.

Astrid Monson, Chair


Bill 79, which we strongly oppose, is just another example of the special privileges and advantages would-be developers of a Convention Center are trying to get as a condition of providing a "free" facility. Three years ago you granted First Development, Inc., the right to build about a million and a quarter square feet of commercial, hotel, and condominium floor space over and above what the zoning allows, to say nothing of an extra 150 feet of height. This is a gift of development rights to build hundreds of millions of dollars worth of space.

And now you are considering exempting this property from taxes, at a time when the city is counting every penny. You are exempting not only the Convention Center itself, but all other property on the ten-acre site -- hotels, condos, office buildings, rental space, whatever. With the land, you could easily be exempting a billion dollars worth of development. At nine dollars a thousand, you would be losing nine million dollars a year.

Just a week ago, your budget chair warned of a real property tax shortfall of five million. Do you want to triple it by passing this bill?


Surely the time has come to end the rail transit charade and get on with the business of developing a mass transit system that meets our needs at a cost we can afford. Resolution 93-165 is meaningless.

What acceptable alternative financial plan could you hope to find to finance two or three billion dollars worth of construction and an equal amount, over thirty or forty years, for operations and maintenance? And even if the money could be found -- by doubling the property tax, or adding twenty dollars or more to the gasoline tax, or from State or Federal funds, an unlikely possibility -- is this the best use to make of it?

As to private financing, we applaud the administration's decision not to try to finance rail by what the Advertiser recently called "development give-aways". It would take unthinkable amounts of zoning and land concessions, and monthly bus pass fees of sixty dollars or more for a developer to just break even, to say nothing of making a profit.

So, if we urge you to file Resolution 93-165 and pass Resolution 93-166 to make it clear once and for all, that the rail pipe-dream is over.


First of all, I would like to congratulate the 1993 legislature for having failed -- for whatever the reason -- to adopt the proposed two-headed monster which would have been, not a compromise solution, but an insoluble problem. At least you are now free to come up with a rational proposal.

The League of Women Voters has not testified for or against the necessity for a Convention Center, nor or against any site, nor whether it should be built by the State, City or private interests. We have, however, vociferously opposed excessive height, density and parking concessions whether to private developers or public agencies. We have opposed surrounding a Convention Center with several times as great a volume of huge commercial buildings. We have also pointed out that the costs to the community of such development privileges far out-weigh the alleged advantages of getting someone to build a "free" Convention Center. We suggest you begin by specifying what you want:

  1. A Convention Center of a size appropriate to our needs and capable of being expanded.

  2. A free-standing Center in significant open space, rather than one dwarfed and crowded between high buildings.

  3. A Center which can be built under existing zoning restrictions and limitations and which does not need extraordinary provisions tailored to the developer's desires.

  4. A Center accessible to trucks, buses, taxis and other vehicles without causing traffic congestions and/or intrusion into adjacent areas.

  5. A Center which is attractive, Hawaiian in feeling, preferably low-rise and which enhances the environment.

  6. A Center that is minimal in costs and financial arrangements favorable to the public interest.

  7. A Center located relatively close to existing hotel facilities.

  8. A Center that would have only minimal impacts on surrounding residential areas and require little or no relocation of residents or businesses.

  9. A Center that can also be utilized by residents for community, cultural and educational events.

Of the three proposals that survived your scrutiny the longest -- the Aloha Motors site, the Hobron Lane site, and the Ewa end of the Ala Wai Golf Course -- we believe that only the last can meet all of these requirements.

The first, as originally planned, even with slightly reduced heights does not basically change its shortcomings in other respects.

The second also fails to meet some of the requirements stated above.

Only the third comes close to meeting all of them. It would be free-standing and not part of a commercial complex. The golf course would continue though reconfigured. The building height would be nor more than thirty feet with part of the golf course superimposed on top. The land would not need to be purchased because it is already publicly owned. Being low-rise, construction would be relatively cheap. The site is near a number of hotels and could be connected with the heart of Waikiki by a relatively unobtrusive footbridge. The Center could be any size and could be expanded at will. It would be attractive, facing the Ala Wai. Ample parking could be provided. Traffic and goods delivery could be routed around and not through Waikiki. It would not need to double, triple or otherwise violate zoning, density, height limits or parking requirements.

We urge you to give serious consideration to this site.

Astrid Monson

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