January 1997 Home   Newsletters

February 1997

March 1997

President's Message (Astrid Monson)
League Wins One for Now (Astrid Monson)
Urgent Appeal for Vote Counters (Arlene Ellis)
Neighborhood Board (Evangeline Funk)
Nominating Committee Report
Membership
Orientation Meeting (Grace Furukawa)
Making Democracy Work

League Wins One for Now

It all started in April, 1995, when a private meeting was called by some East Honolulu developers to discuss an "Informational Fact Sheet   Settlement Procedural Order Affecting Hawaii Kai." About twenty attended. Someone mailed League a copy of the document, which outlined what the developers were demanding in exchange for dropping eight lawsuits against the City arising out of the City's down-zoning a number of sites in the early '80's to implement the new General Plan and Development Plans.

The proposed settlement, which was initiated by the City Corporation Counsel in the late '80's and worked out with the litigants, required the City to approve twelve projects including 1,700 homes, an industrial area, some commercial development, a golf course and a hotel, occupying a total of about one square mile. This would be done through a special speeded-up procedure which by-passed the usual planning and zoning process and gave the developers unprecedented privileges and concessions not available to others.

On April 5 Jean Aoki and Astrid Monson wrote a letter to the Advertiser (which was printed April 27), calling attention to what was going on and to various historical events dating back to 1985, when the local Courts had ruled the down-zoning of Queen's Beach (one of the eight law-suits) legal. The appellate Court upheld the ruling, which was then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which let it stand. The ruling stated that the down-zoning was not a "taking" and that no compensation was due the landowner. Our letter concluded: "The public can only hope that the City Council will not let itself be rail-roaded into submitting to this kind of political black-mail."

Not much happened till October 11, 1995, when suddenly the City Council   after a closed Executive Committee meeting   held an open meeting whose published agenda gave no inkling of a settlement procedure or the nature of the issue and approved it 5 to 4. with Councilmembers Felix, Holmes, Bainum and Yoshimura dissenting. Fortunately, League was provided with an unofficial copy of the draft procedure and the City Council's report approving it. Jean Aoki gave our testimony, which said, in part:

"This innocent-sounding committee report gives the public no clue as to the unprecedented and, indeed, unbelievable capitulation it represents to development interests. Under the cloak of providing a procedure for settling litigation to save the City money, we have here a giveaway of the public interest on a scale not yet experienced on this island."

The November Aloha Voter carried an article explaining to our members what had been happening, and announcing that Councilmember Felix would speak to our November Planning and Zoning Committee meeting to bring us up-to-date.

From that date forward we participated in innumerable informational workshops and public hearings, wrote letters to the Editor, presented "Viewpoints", met personally with Mayor Harris, various City Council members, net-worked with Neighborhood Boards, and finally reviewed the eight-inch thick Environmental Impact Report prepared by the developers.

As early as a year ago Mayor Harris told us that he could not support the proposed settlement, but that he had no legal power to stop the procedure ordered by the Court. He said he would veto it after it had cleared the required process. This would require a year or more of Planning Commission, Council Planning Committee, Council Zoning Committee, and full Council hearing and decisions on each of the twelve proposed sites. If the Mayor vetoed any of them, the developers were free, under the procedure, to reinstate the litigation.

Along with other concerned groups, such as the KaIwi Action Council and the Hawaii Kai Neighborhood Board as well as a couple of Councilmembers, we proposed that since the settlement agreement permitted the City to withdraw from the procedure at any time, it should do so without delay and save the enormous expenditure of time, effort, and money involved.

On January 8 Council Zoning Committee Chair Donna Kim introduced Resolution 97-09 setting forth the Council's "opposition to the further processing of the bill, of the various general plan, development plan and zoning amendments proposed therein, and to the SMP's and PRU's proposed therein." the Resolution further called upon the U.S. District Court "to annul the Pre-trial Settlement Procedure Order".

On January 10 the Advertiser printed an editorial in favor of the City's proposed withdrawal from the process and on January 12 published League's Letter to the Editor congratulating the City "for its wisdom in refusing to be blackmailed into approving this scandalous agreement." On January 14 we testified before the Council's Zoning Committee in favor of the Resolution, and again before the full Council on January 29, on which date the Council approved it unanimously.

Stay tuned to see what happens to the law-suits, threatened to cost the City "up to $500,000,000".

Astrid Monson
Chair, Planning & Zoning

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