LAWMAKERS REACT TO KAKAAKO PLAN
CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
The battle over development in Kakaako has moved to the legislative front. Jay Rush, who on Monday protested plans to build condominiums on the Kakaako Waterfront, said he has been surfing for 15 years and wants to keep Kewalo for local use.
HCDA under fire
Lawmakers have introduced several bills targeting the Hawaii Community Development Authority
>> Legislators propose bills to deal with Kakaako development
Concerns over A&B Properties Inc.'s proposed Kakaako Waterfront development and the state agency that is managing the endeavor have spawned at least a dozen bills in the state Legislature.
The bills range from measures prohibiting the sale of taxpayer-owned land and abolishing the Hawaii Community Development Authority altogether to bills that would simply give the Legislature more oversight over the semiautonomous authority.
"The key here is to listen to the public's concern and realize that this is a problem that the government created," said state Rep. Brian Schatz. "That means we have to take responsibility to fix this."
The debate centers on a plan for about 35 acres of largely blighted property near downtown. The proposal includes 635 condominiums, retail space, additions to the Kakaako waterfront park, a hula amphitheater, markets for farmers and native Hawaiian crafts.
A&B says it needs to sell the condos to pay for improvements that will not produce revenue. But opponents don't want the state to sell public land for a condo development.
Gov. Linda Lingle has said it would be unfair to halt the project now, after A&B has spent considerable time and money creating a plan based on the state's request for proposals from developers. But that hasn't stopped lawmakers from drafting bills threatening the development.
For instance, House Speaker Calvin Say and Senate President Robert Bunda have introduced bills requiring legislative approval of the sale of any state land. Another House bill prohibits the sale of state land altogether.
Rep. Tommy Waters said the whole Kakaako waterfront area should be redeveloped as recreation space free of condos.
"There already are at least half a dozen (condominium) buildings coming up, and in the next 30 years, there could be a dozen more," Waters said. "Where are all of these people (who live in the new condos) going to go for recreation out in open space if we develop Kakaako Makai?"
But Republican Sen. Fred Hemmings Jr. said Waters ignores a key fact: that the plan would create more park space than what's there now and more parking for surfers and park users.
"The reality is right now that area is an industrial wasteland, and this plan is going to create 20 acres of park space or more, with only six acres going to residential condos," said Hemmings, the Senate minority leader.
And taxpayers will not have to pay for the improvements, he said.
"After 30 years of having taxpayer money put into the district to pay for improvements, it seems prudent to have $600 million of A&B's money put into it," he said.
Several other bills are intended to make the Kakaako development authority more responsive to concerns of area business owners.
Sen. Russell Kokubun said the agency has done such a good job fulfilling its mandate to develop Kakaako that it may be time to "gear down."
"The concept that spurred HCDA into being is working," he said. "We need to slow down a little."
LEGISLATORS PROPOSE BILLS TO DEAL WITH KAKAAKO DEVELOPMENT
Lawmakers have introduced several bills in response to the proposed Kakaako Waterfront development. The bills take aim at the Hawaii Community Development Authority, the state agency overseeing the project.
Senate Bill 3142/House Bill 2711
Requires legislative approval before the sale of any sale, long-term lease or transfer of public land.
Requires state agricultural development corporation, HCDA and University of Hawaii to obtain legislative approval before selling lands under their respective jurisdictions.
Introducers: Kokobun, English, Taniguchi, Fukunaga, Nishihara, Sakamoto, Kim, Hooser
Prohibits the sale of public land until 2010.
Introducers: Berg, Carroll, Kahikina, Shimabukuro, Waters
Abolishes the HCDA and returns jurisdiction over lands under the agency's control to the city and county of Honolulu.
Reimburses A&B Properties Inc. for the costs of creating its proposal for the Kakaako development.
Allows the HCDA to issue revenue bonds to pay for development of Kakaako makai property under the authority's control, but doesn't specify A&B as the developer.
Introducers: Caldwell, Kanoho, Morita, Schatz, Waters
Adds two members to the 11-person board that governs the HCDA; requires one member to be appointed from a list provided by the Senate president, and one from a list provided by the House speaker.
Introducers: Kokubun, English, Hanabusa, Fukunaga, Kim, Taniguchi, Nishihara, Sakamoto, Hooser
Other bills relate to the HCDA and complaints from small businesses that the agency has not been responsive to their concerns.
Creates Kakaako small business district and requires HCDA to solicit input from the district community when adopting or changing its master plan for the area; prohibits infrastructure and street improvements in the district until next year.
Introducers: Taniguchi, Fukunaga, Chun Oakland, Slom, Bunda
Establishes legislative oversight and approval of HCDA's master-planning functions and the creation of community development districts before taxpayer money is spent on infrastructure.
Introducers: Fukunaga, Chun Oakland, Slom, Hooser, Taniguchi, Ihara, Kokubun, Baker, Ige
Source: State Legislature, staff research