Wednesday, May 26, 1999

City & County of Honolulu

Some Council members
oppose developer’s affordable
housing proposal

No bus fare hike
Wastewater improvements

By Gordon Y.K. Pang


A development company has come up with an unusual way of meeting its affordable housing requirements for a project in Hawaii Kai.

But some City Council members, calling it a bad precedent, don't like Gerell Management Inc. using existing units in Chinatown to meet that requirement.

Developers are required by the city to set a portion of their projects aside as "affordable units." The lower-priced units are eligible for sale or rent only to low- and moderate-income families.

Gerell wants to develop up to 40 single-family, market-priced homes on 5 acres along Keahole Street in Hawaii Kai. Under that plan, Gerell is required to designate 30 percent, or 12 units, as affordable.

But Gerell wants to satisfy its requirement by instead putting the affordable designation on up to 16 rentals on Maunakea Street in Chinatown it owns.

Developers have been allowed to build or get credit for their affordable requirements with units elsewhere in the same Council district, usually nearby. On occasion, developers also have been allowed to pay the city fees in lieu of housing.

But Gerell's proposal would mark the first time a developer would be allowed to satisfy its affordable requirement with units outside the Council district, in which the project would be built.

Council members Donna Mercado Kim and Andy Mirikitani said they have problems with transferring affordable housing from Hawaii Kai to poorer communities.

"I feel this kind of language is setting a bad precedent," Kim said. Other communities don't like affordable housing in their neighborhoods but aren't given the luxury of dictating whether it goes there, she said. The fact that Gerell is already eyeing the use of the Chinatown building "I find ... somewhat shady," she said.

Mirikitani said undesirable units are placed in his Council district without regard to the interests of his constituents.

Joe Leoni, Gerell president, said his company's situation is unique because area residents, including those on the Hawaii Kai Neighborhood Board, overwhelmingly favor single-family development in the area. Neighbors would not want multifamily units in the area and costs prohibit Gerell from designating single-family units as affordable, Leoni said.

Keith Kurahashi, Gerell consultant, said the community's worried about multifamily units mixing in a single-family area.

No rise in bus fares

By Gordon Pang, Star-Bulletin

Bus fares will not go up during the coming year, City Council Budget Chairman Rene Mansho said today.

Sufficient revenues have been found to cover the budget, so there is no need for a fare increase, she said.

Bus-fare increases were recommended by the former Budget Chairman John Henry Felix and former Council chairman Mufi Hannemann but opposed by Mayor Jeremy Harris.

The new Council majority, headed by Jon Yoshimura and Mansho, dethroned Hannemann and Felix over differences on the budget.

The fare plan called for single-ride fares to go from $1 to $1.50, but it would not have increased the monthly bus pass of $25 for adults; $12.50 for students. Officials estimate the increase would have brought in $2.68 million.

Wastewater improvements
continue with trench

By Gordon Y.K. Pang


A 400-foot-long sewage reclamation trench will help the city meet the latest of its federally mandated wastewater improvements.

The trench -- essentially a perforated pipe in a bed of gravel -- is ready for operation, designed to put 3 million gallons of secondary-treated effluent into the caprock to replenish and freshen the underground aquifer in the Ewa area used for agricultural irrigation, said Environmental Services Director Kenn Sprague.

The city is required to recycle 5 million gallons of effluent a day from its Honouliuli Wastewater Treatment Plant by June 30.

Sprague told the City Council's Public Works Committee yesterday that all that's required now is for the state Department of Health to accept a monitoring plan that the city will hand over early next month.

The city already is reusing 2 million gallons as part of its Honouliuli operations.

Dennis Tulang, wastewater branch chief for the Health Department, said his agency is anticipating the plan from the city. "It being a little more than a month away, we're a little bit anxious about it," Tulang said.

Failure to comply with the deadline will mean fines of $1,000 each day for the first 60 days and $2,000 a day thereafter.

Come July 1, 2001, the city is required to reuse 10 million gallons of effluent a day. That requirement will be met once a U.S. Filter Corp. reclamation plant goes into operation at Honouliuli in August 2000.

U.S. Filter and the city intend to sell that effluent for agricultural and industrial operators in need of irrigation water.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 1995 required the city to improve its wastewater system following a series of spills.

Tulang said the city is on track to meet other requirements of the consent decrees.

One requirement calls for operation of a sewage reclamation facility at the Wahiawa Wastewater Treatment Plant by May 2001.

The city allocated $10 million toward development of that plant last year and $2 million is earmarked in the coming year's budget, Sprague said.

Another requirement forces the city to reuse up to 10 dry tons of sludge for composting and other uses. Sprague said his agency is working with the Navy to meet that goal.

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