Testimony on Resolution 93-229, Proposed CD-1, Relating to Major Modification to PRU on Aloha Motors Site, before the City Council Public Hearing on July 14, 1993
Calling Resolution 93-229 CD-1 a "major modification" of Resolution 90-146 CD-1 goes beyond the bounds of reason. Not only is the newly proposed physical plan non-recognizable as a revision of the original, but the financial and ownership provisions, the mutual obligations of the developer and the "public entity", the parking provisions, and indeed virtually the entire proposal, bear little or no resemblance to the so-called Master Plan approved in 1990.
The public has not had access to the actual plan of the new proposal so we are testifying on the basis of the CD-1 which became available to us on Friday. To approve this Resolution on such short notice, with little or no opportunity for the public to review the new proposal, and on the basis of one public hearing only, is, we believe, a travesty of the planning process. This is a new project and should be treated as such, starting with square one.
In the brief time available to us, we have reviewed the CD-1 and find it unacceptable in many ways. As background, we are attaching our testimony of June 29 on the first draft of Resolution 93229. Please consider it as part of our testimony today. As to the CD-1 draft, our major concerns are:
The proposed density, FAR 6.5, is scarcely 10% lower than the FAR 7.25 of the original plan. Both are approximately twice the maximum legal zoned density, FAR 3.5 of BX-3.
This major deviation from the zoned density is totally contrary to the intent of the PRU provisions of the LUO, which is to "minimize objectionable aspects of the proposed use or its potential incompatibility with other uses permitted in the zoning district", not to worsen its adverse effects, or create greater ones.
The proposed provision of 1,400 parking spaces for an initial two and one-half million square feet of convention and non-convention uses, to say nothing of further expansion, is lees than half of the already totally inadequate three thousand parking spaces originally required. It should be noted that under BMX-3 regulations the parking requirement would approach 10,000 spaces. Only 800 spaces are provided on-site, and location of the 600 off-site spaces is not specified. In fact, the CD-1 provides that "the off-site parking may (formally shall) contain a total of 600 parking spaces."
- ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT
We are informed that the proposal may include parcels of publicly owned land, which would require that the entire site be subject to an Environmental Impact Statement, a requirement that not even the original proposal met.
- OWNERSHIP AND OPERATION
The CD-1 contains incredible concessions to the developer in the event the Convention Center proves unprofitable or otherwise of no advantage to operate. Basically, he can abandon it and the public entity is required to take it over. If the public entity doesn't do this or can't operate it either, the developer gets it back lock, stock and barrel and can use it for anything he want to. If a competing Center is built, he gets the whole thing back to use it as he likes.
- A "FREE" CONVENTION CENTER
Rather than the public getting a freebie, we think this Resolution gives the developer a bonanza. Outside of the density and height he is given, which far exceed the zoned limits, he is relieved in the CD-1 of the responsibility of paying real property taxes; he no longer needs to pay off-site land acquisition costs to improve vehicular traffic on Kahakai Drive, Kapiolani Boulevard, Atkinson Drive and Kalakaua Avenue; if the public entity builds the expansion, it owns the facility, the land underlying it, and the accessory parking, but must lease it
back to the developer at one dollar a year for 65 years; if the Center ,founders, the public entity can take over the land "underlying" the Center but the developer keeps the rest of the land to use as he likes; and if a competing Center is built, the developer can get ownership of the entire Center, parking and underlying land restored to him to use for such uses as the PRU permits as accessory to the Center.
As we testified three years ago, and also in connection with other convention centers proposed by other entities on other sites, we oppose construction of gigantic commercial complexes of which convention centers are only a minor portion, under the guise of providing the public a "free" convention center. Like all free lunches, the public costs involved will in all probability turn out to be far greater -- not only in cash and public outlays for infrastructure, but also in damage to the amenity and desirability of the surrounding areas -- than the value received.
Once again we urge you to reject this thinly-veiled attempt to secure enormous private advantages in exchange for little or no public gain. Spending one hundred million public dollars on a facility that will continue to require public subsidies to operate and may revert to private ownership is an expensive free lunch indeed.