Council trims
‘green’ bucks

The Sierra Club and city
administration knock the
latest budget, which also
raises bus fares

The Sierra Club expressed disappointment yesterday with the City Council's draft budget, which cuts out curbside recycling and Young Street bikeway and hikes the cost of riding TheBus.

City & County of Honolulu

"The Council had an opportunity to reduce our need for a new landfill, reduce traffic congestion and improve the quality of life throughout Honolulu," said Naomi Arcand, vice chairwoman of the Sierra Club's Oahu Group. "Not only did they fail to move forward on these progressive environmental measures, they took a step backward by approving a bus fare increase."

Budget Chairwoman Ann Kobayashi countered that she supports both recycling and a Young Street bikeway sometime in the future but that neither is affordable for the city right now.

"We want to do recycling, but want to do in it in the proper method," Kobayashi said. "You shouldn't be putting all the recyclables together in a truck where glass is compacted with paper. That isn't a real recycling program."

Councilman Charles Djou questioned whether the recycling plan, if rushed into, "could easily become a black hole" financially.

City spokeswoman Carol Costa called it "a tremendous disappointment that curbside recycling will not be going forward, because this would have really reduced the amount of waste to our landfill."

Starting the pickups could be delayed a month or two if the Council thought a July 1 start was unrealistic, Costa said.

Jeff Mikulina, Sierra Club executive director, said the club also has concerns about some details of the mayor's recycling plan but that delaying it means more garbage going into the city landfill, which is projected to be full in five years.

And the cost of a bikeway, Mikulina said, is "a drop in the bucket" compared with the cost of auto traffic projects. "The bikers always get the short end of the stick. This is really a practical project for those that wish to commute across town."

"It would be nice to have (the bikeway) project," Council Chairman Gary Okino said, "but our roads are in bad condition, our sewers need upgrading. I think we can eventually do it."

Okino said he plans to offer an alternative to Kobayashi's budget plan that will raise the property tax rate 2 cents to cover the cost of 41 police and 26 firefighter positions not included in her plan.

City Transportation Director Cheryl Soon has appealed to the Council to restore at least some funding for the Young Street bikeway project, which might enable her to find federal matching funds.

Soon also noted that some bus fare increase must be made to meet a Council requirement that from 27 to 33 percent of the cost of bus service be covered by rider payments.

Increasing the monthly pass to $30 from $27 and daily fares to $1.75 from $1.50 would bring in $1.42 million, not the $1.7 million projected by the Council, Soon said. That is because many regular riders who pay daily fares would switch to a monthly pass, she said.

Soon said she does not expect many riders to stop using TheBus because of the rate increases.

The Sierra Club disagrees. "It discourages people from riding transit, sending them back into their cars and adding to Honolulu's traffic and environmental woes," said Nikki Love, Oahu Chapter transportation chairwoman.


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