March 1995 Home   Newsletters

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May 1995

President's Message: Annual Meeting to Cap Busy League Year (Suzanne Meisenzahl)
League Sponsors a Discussion on Violence (Pamela Ferguson-Brey)
League Works Toward Resolution of Issues (Astrid Monson)
League Meets with Inouye Aide
Vote Counts (Arlene Ellis)
Membership
In Memoriam

League Works Toward Resolution of Issues

With new planning and zoning directors in stalled and a new Mayor and three new City Council members, changes can be expected in the resolution of many issues that have been before League's Planning and Zoning Committee for years. Some of the more important of these, and their current status, are:

Annual Development Plan (DP) Review

This procedure was abolished in the charter revisions adopted in 1992, which called for comprehensive area-wide planning to replace project-by project approvals. Unfortunately, the city's Planning Department is still working on the first two DP areas, Central Oahu and Ewa, to be considered under the new procedure. As a result, the 1995 Annual Review has begun under the old method. We are to submit our recommendations by April 15th

Once again several major developers are calling for the approval of large projects: 683 acres for Waiawa by Gentry, with 10,580 additional dwelling units on Waiawa Ridge, for example; expansion of Mililani Technology Park with another 137 acres of industrial and commercial uses; and another 1,104 acres for 10,000 more residential units in Ewa. It should be noted that almost seven square miles of land, with some 43,000 units, enough to take care of the General Plan's projected population growth to the year 2010, have previously been given DP approvals but the proposed homes are yet to be built. Whatever the merit of the individual projects being proposed, we feel that no more land should be approved for urbanization until the new comprehensive plans have been adopted and previous approvals have been reviewed to determine whether development will actually be undertaken.

Waikiki Master Plan and Zoning Revision

In 1994 the League applauded a City Council defeat of a complete rezoning of Waikiki, which would have allowed greater densities and heights than now zoned. Subsequently, Mayor Harris named an advisory committee on Waikiki, which included several League members. The committee has for some months been working on clarification and revision of the goals for Waikiki listed in a 1992 draft Master Plan (which was never submitted for public discussion or Council action) to be followed by recommendations as to what zoning changes, if any, might be needed to achieve that Plan. The majority of the committee agree that any growth or redevelopment called for in the Plan must be within Waikiki carrying capacity, however defined, and should not result in greater congestion.

Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Convention Center

Several members of League's P&Z committee have been working on our formal comments on the Draft EIS, culminating in a letter to the Governor pointing out a number of what we felt were serious failures adequately to address such problems as traffic analysis, parking and loading of buses as well as private vehicles, street widening, off-site parking and pedestrian safety, off-site redevelopment brought about by the Convention Center, employee parking, bus capacity, lack of consideration for bicycle use, rail transit/ people mover system, noise, and excessive land coverage/lack of open space. We stated that in our opinion consideration of these impacts should have been undertaken before the decision was made to build so large and significant a facility on this site, and that if some of these problems, once the decision had been made, could not be solved, "we would prefer a frank statement to this effect, rather than bland assurances that all will be well."

Revision of the Land Use (Zoning) Ordinance

Astrid Monson, P&Z chair, will take part in an advisory group to help the Department of Land Utilization identify problems and issues relating to the content and administration of the LUO, and advise on strategies to address these issues. The committee is to have broad representation from the building industry, professional groups, civic and other community organizations. One of its major tasks will be to find ways to streamline zoning regulation. Past experience has shown that this often means shortening the period of time given to neighborhood boards and other citizens' groups for study of proposals, discussion,-arrival of a position, and opportunities to make their input before the Planning Commission of the City Council.

Lihi Lani (North Shore) Development Plan Revision

To get more information about this controversial project, the P& Z committee granted a request made by the developer's planning consultant to present the plans to us on March 27. Last November we had testified that any decision on this project should be held in abeyance pending completion of the new comprehensive DP for the North Shore area, which is being undertaken in compliance with the new City Charter We were particularly dubious about the proposal to subdivide some 1100 acres of agriculturally designated land into some 315 large "country" lots of two or three acres, to be sold, according to press reports, for 350,000 or $400,000 each. We felt more study was needed to determine if this was the best use of that land.

Tax Credits

Because of the close relationship between planning and taxation, testimony was given to the state legislature on pending proposals to help meet the state's revenue shortfall by cutting state tax credits. We outlined League's traditional position (national and local) that the excise tax was inherently regressive and that the presently granted tax credits for food, rent, medical costs, etc., many of which are geared primarily to lower income families, helped mitigate that regressivity. We suggested that the $55 per person food credit, which is given to every person regardless of income, could be eliminated in favor of the low income tax credit, which is graded according to income and disappears above $30,000. We suggested that the amounts now given for this, from $10 to $55 per capita, be doubled or tripled, and also that the regressivity of the state income tax, which for couples filing jointly is 9.5% between $31,000 and $41,000 and a completely flat 10% above $41,000, be corrected by adding higher tax brackets progressively as incomes increase to $100,000 or $200,000 or more. Since the added burden would bear less heavily on these income levels that on those whose present tax credits were proposed to be cut, we felt that at least this would be progressive rather than adding to regressivity.

Astrid Monson
Chair, Planning and Zoning

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