Mayor Jeremy Harris delivered his State of the City speech last night at Honolulu Hale.

Kaimuki gets new
police station

Harris' State of the City
speech reveals a shift from the
Hawaii Kai site originally planned

» Speech highlights
» Rail funding worries councilman

An East Honolulu police station will be built in Kaimuki and not Hawaii Kai as originally proposed, Mayor Jeremy Harris said last night in his State of the City speech, which was part celebration of accomplishments and part call for action on administration projects.

Harris said the police station will be at the state-owned Fort Ruger National Guard Armory on 22nd Avenue on the slopes of Diamond Head.

However, the city might not be able to use $5.5 million appropriated for the police station, and that money could end up lapsing like a previous police station appropriation.

Harris' speech at Honolulu Hale also touched on plans for further Waikiki and Central Oahu renovations, islandwide recycling, a push for fixed-rail mass transit and an emphasis on renewable forms of energy. But he also warned residents about possible higher city taxes.

Councilman Charles Djou, who represents the district that includes both Kaimuki and Hawaii Kai, said he is happy East Honolulu will get a police station.

"Any East Honolulu police station is better than no East Honolulu police station," Djou said.

But Djou said he believes Hawaii Kai residents will be disappointed the station will not be in their neighborhood.

"Hawaii Kai has been waiting for a police station for years, if not decades," Djou said. "I am disappointed that it's not going in Hawaii Kai, but I don't oppose it."

The armory site had been one of the sites originally considered for the police station, but the city eventually decided to go with an underused section of the Hawaii Kai Park and Ride on Keahole Street.

Police Chief Lee Donohue, who made the final site selection, could not be reached for comment.

The Hawaii Kai Park and Ride was chosen because the city owns it and it was on the highway, but the park and ride is near the end of police District 7, which runs from Palolo to Hawaii Kai.

"The Fort Ruger site ... is a little bit more centralized than the Hawaii Kai site, but it is owned by the state, so we're going to have to negotiate a standard rental agreement with the state government," Djou said.

The state had previously offered to lease the site to the city but only for a short term.

In a memo to Harris in December 2000, Donohue said the Police Department had been offered 2,000 square feet of space at the armory on a year-to-year lease for three years. Other state and federal law enforcement agencies were also interested in moving there as the National Guard looked to relocate to Kalaeloa.

But Donohue rejected the site at the time in favor of the Hawaii Kai site, according to the memo.

"Today I understand (the state) is willing to enter into a longer-term lease," Djou said after discussions with state Department of Defense officials.

Managing Director Ben Lee said he has been working out the details of the arrangements with Maj. Gen. Robert Lee, state adjutant general and civil defense director.

"We're hoping that we can have an agreement and some presence of HPD by the end of this year," Lee said.

But Lee said funding for the project could be a problem.

The city was ready to build a 13,025-square-foot, $4.5 million station at the Hawaii Kai site. However, when bids for the project came in, they were $1 million over the appropriated amount, so no contract was awarded and the deadline to use the money expired, city officials said.

The City Council put $5.5 million for the police station back into the city's budget for the current fiscal year. Lee said city officials are looking into whether that money can be used.

Lee said the city might not be able to use that appropriation if the money was specifically earmarked for the Hawaii Kai site.

"If it says East Honolulu and I get an opinion from corporation counsel, then we can use that money," Lee said. "I would love to use it because we don't want to wait and re-appropriate the money."

The mayor's speech last night lasted a few minutes over the half-hour allotted, and the tail end of his speech was cut off on 'Olelo public access TV. The city paid $6,000 to air the broadcasts on KHON and KGMB.

Harris covered his accomplishments over the past 10 years and outlined his plans for the upcoming year.

Harris hinted at a possible tax increase when he told the audience, "This year, I'll strive again to keep any tax rate increase to a minimum, if one is required, but no taxpayer should expect to pay less in taxes in 2005 than they paid in 1994."

Harris also proposed in his speech that the Council repeal a 2002 ordinance that was supposed to make sure agricultural lands were being used for their intended purpose by imposing a higher tax rate on agricultural lands not actively used for farming. The law, instead, is burdening farmers with higher tax bills.

Council Chairman Donovan Dela Cruz said he was surprised the mayor mentioned repealing the ordinance in the speech because "we were already working on it."

Council Budget Chairwoman Ann Kobayashi said the Council wanted to repeal the ordinance but was originally told by the administration that it could not be done because there was nothing in place to replace it. "If we can (repeal it), we will," Kobayashi said.

As far as the mayor's speech in general, Dela Cruz noted the myriad of projects the mayor outlined for his final year.

"The projects shouldn't be nice-to-have projects, especially when we have tons of infrastructure we have to focus on," Dela Cruz said. "Finish the projects you started."


State of the City

Mayor Jeremy Harris highlighted these plans for 2004 in his State of the City speech last night:

>> Transform Kuhio Avenue with flagstone-paved sidewalks, hundreds of new trees, hanging flower baskets and historic lighting.

>> Make the promenade along Ala Wai more inviting, with more landscaping, benches and jogging paths.

>> Begin construction next month of the new tennis clubhouse and a world-class Aquatic Center at the Central Oahu sports facilities.

>> Build the first phase of the new Kapolei Parkway, construct the Waianae Emergency Access Road and make major improvements to King Street through Kalihi.

>> Establish a hydrogen power park at Kapolei that will feature a hydrogen generator and photovoltaic panels that will provide electricity and air conditioning for Kapolei Hale. It also will have an electric vehicle charging station and a hydrogen fueling station for vehicles powered by fuel cells.

>> Implement an islandwide curbside recycling program for every community on Oahu.

>> Recommend to Gov. Linda Lingle's transportation task force that the state authorize the city to levy an excise tax for construction of a rail system without federal involvement.

>> Begin construction of the East Honolulu Police Station on 22nd Avenue in Fort Ruger.


Rail funding
worries councilman

A rail transit proposal could be headed down a dead end because the city may not be able to afford $2.25 million in planning costs, a key city councilman said.

City Council Transportation Chairman Nestor Garcia described the status of the rail project as "not dead, but on life support."

But Mayor Jeremy Harris said in his State of the City address last night, "Honolulu must build fixed rail."

Gov. Linda Lingle has proposed a $2.6 billion rail project that would run from Kapolei to Iwilei.

Legislative leaders have expressed reluctance at giving the city taxing authority to raise revenue for the project.

"Nevertheless, at its next meeting, I'll recommend to the governor's (transit) task force that the state authorize the city to levy an excise tax to enable us to immediately build a high-capacity light-rail or monorail system without time-consuming and costly federal involvement," Harris said.

Harris said after the speech that if the city were able to raise the money, the project could get under way within the next 18 months.

"We have to do it now, and we have to do it with our own money," Harris said. "I'm hoping the Legislature will look to the task force for advice."

The Council has called on the administration to produce a "work plan" to get the planning going.

That plan could cost $2.25 million, Garcia said, and he is not sure he is willing to spend that kind of money on a plan that may sit on a shelf again if the Legislature is not willing to give the city the power to increase the general excise tax.

Garcia said his constituents want to see projects that would make an impact now, like repairing roads.

"I'm torn in trying to come to a solution to the coming traffic problem ... and balancing that with the fiscal reality that we are trying to come up with the best way to spend taxpayers' dollars," Garcia said.

Garcia said he will wait to see what comes of the Legislature's session in an election year, but in the meantime, "there's going to be a point where I need to make a decision ... what's the best way to spend $2.2 million?"


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