August 1993 Home   Newsletters

October 1993

November-December 1993

President's Message (Arlene Ellis)
Planning & Zoning: Waterfront Plan Presented (Astrid Monson)
Planning & Zoning: Convention Center (Astrid Monson)
Hawaii State Constitution: A Reference Guide
President's Plan is Effective Blueprint for Health Care Reform (Becky Cain)
Highlight's of the Clinton Health Plan
Activity of Education Committee - 1993 (Marion Saunders)
Membership (Annie Kim)

President's Message

Recently the papers have been full of articles concerning ethics in government or the appearance of impropriety among government officials such as misuse of office, misuse of funds, misuse of campaign financing regulations, etc. However, there is another kind of dishonesty that is not mentioned or being considered, and that is intellectual dishonesty among government officials in the way they pretend to do one thing and end up doing another.

In 1990, the City Council approved a PRU for the Aloha Motors site on the pretext that the City would get a "free" Convention Center. For this, they violated planning and zoning principles and regulations and gave the developer double the one and a half million square feet of building density and an additional one hundred fifty feet in building height, as well as slashing the parking requirements, and more concessions-all for a development that is twenty percent Convention Center and eighty percent profit-making commercial.

On August 11, 1993, the City Council approved a "major modification" of the 1990 PRU for a new plan for a Convention Center plus four large hotel towers that could contain three thousand hotel rooms, to a new developer. New provisions in the "major modification" strongly favored the developer such as deleting the provisions making the developer responsible for any applicable land acquisition costs involved in traffic improvements and slashing parking requirements even further so that there appear to be no parking for the Convention Center users on the site. The rationale given by one Councilman for his approval was that the building height would ONLY be one hundred feet more than currently zoned and the density would be increased ONLY eighty percent more than allowed.

The City Planning Department in 1991 produced a "Concept For A Master Plan" and in 1992 a "Master Plan For Waikiki." The 1991 report spoke of "promoting human-scaled low-rise buildings" ... "discouraging excessive noise, traffic congestion, and bulky building forms ... [and] no substantial increase in over-all permitted densities in the district."

The 1992 report admits there was "unbridled" past development, "crowding," that "views and cooling trade winds are blocked by buildings"; it deplores the "physical and visual inaccessibility of the beaches", that "Waikiki lacks accessible open space", that it has "inadequate transportation", that it "lacks clearly defined residential neighborhoods and resort districts", that current residents are "being displaced by new hotels and condominiums" and so forth and so on.

Despite all the rhetoric, proposed regulations to the Waikiki Special District go in the opposite direction. By increasing permitted densities and heights from those in the current regulations, they encourage continuation of the very over-building and congestion the present regulations were designed to correct.

The justification given is to increase open space. Open space is not increased by increasing density. Three large property owners are given special consideration, with densities as high as two and a half times that now permitted. Over-all, it has been estimated the proposed regulations permit a third more density than now allowed. Strong incentives are given for "redevelopment" rather than the renovation and improvement of existing structures.

It is evident that these incentives will encourage the replacement of existing low- and moderate-density housing -which is the bulk of what can euphemistically be called "affordable" in Waikiki -- by high-density high-rises at high rentals or sales prices.

Some years ago, Ewa was designated as the Second City. It was planned that Ewa would be the growth area for a residential population as well as commercial enterprise. However for the past ten years or so, more and more agricultural land in Central Oahu was re-designated for residential use. Today, much of the re-designated land in Central Oahu has not been built upon as developers land bank the land and keep prices of homes high by keeping the supply low as the demand for housing keep rising.

Castle and Cooke recently offered 500 to 800 acres of land in Central Oahu to the State for a West Oahu campus for the University of Hawaii if they were given permission to build.. 15,000 homes surrounding the campus. That would increase the population in the area by at least 45,000. Whatever happened to the Second City in Ewa? A legislator representing Central Oahu was quoted in the papers as applauding the idea of a University campus in Central Oahu and lauding the increase in population, way over the guidelines in the General Plan for a population limit for the area. Another legislator, aghast over this violation of the planning process, pointed out that the population increase of 45,000 in Central Oahu would be more than the entire population on the island of Kauai.

I could go on with the increase in height limitations in downtown Honolulu, the State and City's reluctance and even resistance to addressing alternatives to rail, the State's lack of realization of the impact of automobiles on the use of energy and the environment, and on and on.

This intellectual dishonesty in our elected officials is insidious and needs to be recognized and addressed by all of us. It is not too early to study our elected officials carefully and voice our displeasure in the voting booth.

Arlene Kim Ellis

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