Land conservation ballot issue stirs last-minute campaigning
Supporters found themselves on the eve of today's election telling residents why they should vote "yes" on a proposed City Charter amendment that would set aside 1 percent of property tax revenues for land conservation and affordable housing projects.
"With a dedicated fund I think you get two things: one is you get the ability to plan and it also allows the community to know that there's going to be money for these things," said Darlene Hein, program director of the Waikiki Health Center's Care-A-Van project.
Those opposed to the proposed amendment were also talking to residents.
"We don't disagree with the need in society, the community's need for affordable housing and preserving natural resources but you don't do it through a Charter amendment," said Land Use Research Foundation of Hawaii executive director Dean Uchida.
Uchida said it's difficult to remove anything from the Charter once it's in.
And, the staff at the Charter Commission were still fielding questions about the Charter ballot questions. If Question 3 is approved, it would raise about $5 million each year.
"Yes, we've gotten several calls and a few e-mails," said commission executive administrator Chuck Narikiyo said. "For the last three or four weeks, every day there's been a steady stream of calls and e-mails."
With a dozen Charter questions on the ballot today, all agree that educating the public on the proposed amendments should help voters. That includes telling them that blank votes don't count in charter questions.
Both sides in the debate over Charter question No. 3 say that with so many Charter questions, they hope their issue won't get lost.
"We're going to walk around and give out flyers and we've been doing a lot of e-mailing and calling to let people know how important this is," Hein said. "I think there's an issue that when you have so many amendments that people go, 'Never mind.'"
Uchida, whose organization represents developers and large landowners, said he's afraid voters could confuse Charter question No. 3 with state Constitution question No. 3.
"It's hard enough for people to just read through all of that information," he said. "Make sure it's the Charter amendment when you vote."
The Charter Commission advises voters to study either the brochure that was mailed to households or the newspaper advertisement on the amendments and decide how to vote before heading to the polls.
Hein was one of several representatives of more than a dozen groups gathered on the steps of the state Capitol yesterday complaining about the newspaper advertisement by the noncandidate committee -- The Committee for Essential City Services -- which includes Uchida's organization.
For more information on the amendments, visit the Charter Commission Web site: www.honolulu.gov/chc.