Wednesday, June 1, 2005

Mayor asks assessment
of 700 city properties

Selling assets or finding higher-priced uses for city properties could be new ways to make money for the city, says Mayor Mufi Hannemann.

Hannemann said he's looked at ways to cut expenses but now wants to examine increasing revenues for the city during the current economic good times.

"I think the job of mayor ... is to sustain the momentum and to ensure that we ride this wave for as long as possible," Hannemann said.

To do that, Hannemann is once again turning to the business sector for help.

Hannemann has formed the 11-member City Asset Management Review Team that will be headed by General Growth Properties Vice President Jeffrey Dinsmore.

The group has 90 days to come up with recommendations on the best value and the use of more than 700 parcels that the city owns or manages.

Hannemann said he wants to go beyond the work done by the City Council last year in forming a task force that recommended selling the city's housing properties under certain conditions.

"I want to take a much more comprehensive look, and I don't want to do this based on a willy-nilly approach that oftentimes permeates City Hall and that whenever you're faced with a budget crunch, a budget deficit, oftentimes someone recommends a piece of land that should be sold," Hannemann said.

Council Chairman Donovan Dela Cruz said he is pleased that the mayor is expanding on Council's work.

"If there are properties that are not in the best interest of the city to hold then we can use revenues from the sale to reduce the debt service and maybe even pay for capital improvement projects in cash," Dela Cruz said.

Hannemann said that he realizes there are concerns about the city's affordable housing inventory and that "whatever we decide to do with it, that we need to maximize opportunities for our people to ... have affordable housing."

Dela Cruz said the city needs to make sure there's an adequate affordable housing supply for "people in need or people in transition or people who don't have the finances to purchase right now."

He said there are companies out there willing to purchase the housing properties but keep rentals affordable.

Hannemann said the team is an outgrowth of his Mayor's Review, which used private sector volunteers to examine city finances and operations.

City & County of Honolulu

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