January 1996 Home   Newsletters

February 1996

March 1996

President's Message (Suzanne Meisenzahl)
Vote Counts Cancelled (Arlene Ellis)
Report of the Membership Recruitment Committee (Grace Furukawa)
League on "Oahu Speaks" Special
Cheryl Soon to Speak at P&Z Committee Meeting (Astrid Monson)
Testimony on Bill Relating to Development Agreements
State News - House Committee on Finance: Taxation
Court Monitoring Project Underway
National News - Challenge to National Voter Registration Act
Action Call
Many Voices One Vision
Annual United Nations Wrap-Up (insert) (Margery Cohen)

Excerpts from Testimony before the City Council Public Hearing on Bill 2 (1995) Relating to Development Agreements

The Council has been considering development agreement ordinances since 1986. As early as 1987 we were before you with testimony outlining our objections to the bills.

In 1987, '89, '90, '94, and '95 we again testified against the vested rights provisions of the bills. We cited an article in the July 1985 issue of "Urban Land", in which the author refers to the "reserved powers doctrine", which holds that "no law-making body can bind future legislative action by contract". We pointed out that the aim of zoning was to protect the health, safety, morals and general welfare, and not to exact commitments from developers nor to reward them with predictability. In other words, zoning is not to be sold.

Our objections to the development agreement bills is that they are essentially vested rights bills, even though clothed in a mantle of mutual obligations.

We cite the example of the proposed East Honolulu litigation settlement. It is clearly stated in the proposed ordinance that "the entitlements granted hereunder shall be deemed to create vested rights in favor of the owners of the respective parcels directly benefited for a period of twenty years after the effective date hereof." There follows language substantially taken from the development agreements law exempting the properties concerned from any laws, ordinances, resolutions, rules, regulations and policies not in force on October 11,1995 – a date, by the way, at least a year before the ordinance on the specific development approvals therein can realistically be approved.

The ordinance also provides that the land uses authorized "shall not be subjected to any conditions, exactions, impact fees, public improvements, facilities or services, affordable housing requirements, park dedication, offsite infrastructure, community benefit requirements or any other land conditions or development, or any fees or assessments regarding any of the foregoing."

If this is what development agreements can be, we want nothing to do with them. We hope you feel the same way.

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