Chair Rhoads, Vice-Chair San Buenaventura, and Committee Members:
The League of Women Voters of Hawaii opposes SB 419, SD 2. The bill allows a neighborhood board quorum, without public notice, to attend any meeting or presentation which is open to the public without registration or payment of an admission fee. (The bill would not allow a neighborhood board quorum to attend either public or private events which require either registration or an admission fee.)
Developers seeking county land use approvals, businesses seeking county contracts, and ad hoc “NIMBY” groups commonly host free public informational meetings and presentations to advocate their own private special interest. The League does not object to a quorum or even all neighborhood board members listening or asking questions at such private meetings or presentations. Our concern with SB 419, SD 2 is that Section 92-82(b), Hawaii Revised Statues, authorizes all neighborhood board members attending a non-board informational meeting or presentation to participate in discussions of neighborhood board matters, including discussions among themselves, as part of the informational meeting or presentation.
The League believes that discussions of board matters by a neighborhood board quorum should take place, after adequate public notice, at neighborhood board meetings. There is no compelling reason why public notice requirements for quorum discussions of board matters should be different for neighborhood boards than for dozens of other public advisory boards. It also should be pointed out that unlike purely advisory boards, neighborhood boards sometimes assume non-advisory functions. For example, the State Land Use Commission (LUC) has admitted neighborhood boards as parties to LUC contested case hearings, Hawaii courts have allowed neighborhood boards to file and participate in civil actions, and developers have allowed neighborhood boards to select members of private non-profit boards which administer developer-funded charities.
Thank you for the opportunity to present testimony.