“Mayor Kirk Caldwell No Damn Good!”

“Mayor Kirk Caldwell No Damn Good!”

Generally, Hawaii’s kupuna are really cool and full of aloha. But when they say that someone is “No Damn Good”,  you know their patience has run out.

 Iseke-Lessary City Hall

REPRINT from North Shore News March 30, 2016  – Three Kupuna’s Open Letter to  City Council Chair Martin to set the Mayor Caldwell’s fiscal priorities straight.

Dear City Council Chair Ernie Martin,

You represent our district. We want to Keep the Country Country. We don’t want a huge $13 Million “Kapolei/Ewa Beach firehouse” model in our small rural community of Hauula. We already have a fire station in Hauula. The firefighters are doing a good job.

We need your help to put an end to this shibai. It has been going since 2009.

Please do not approve the $6.7 Million that Mayor Caldwell wants you to borrow towards this $13 Million firehouse relocation. We are not against new buildings but everything about this project is wrong. Many in the firefighting profession are scratching their heads over this too. Even the civil emergency people question this location by the tsunami inundation zone.

You already know Mayor Caldwell’s pilau MO. Mayor Caldwell is forcing this $13 Million fire station relocation to reward his donors with big contracts.

Mayor no damn good

Here are some of our reasons against Mayor Caldwell’s pet project:

We collected over 1,400 signatures/letters against this relocation project. But Mayor Caldwell ignores us and is still forcing this relocation projects down our throats.

We have an ongoing lawsuit against this project in the federal court. But Mayor Caldwell is still spending and asking for more millions of dollars.

The Mayor hired “expert” consultant from Oakland California (!) to claim that the “Ewa Beach Fire Station” model (built in January 2013} for Oahu’s growing Second City as “very appropriate” for the small rural community of Hauula. We want to KEEP THE COUNTRY COUNTRY!  Hauula is not Kapolei.

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The Mayor hired another “expert” consultant to claim that the City needed to build a bigger fire station to house bigger fire engines – “fire engines have gone from being 8-feet wide, 25-feet long, weighing 9 tons to being 8 feet wide, 32-feet long, and weighing 23 tons. As fire apparatuses continue to increase in size, providing for access, and enough space for circulation and maneuvering have become important issues for fire station design.”

But the ‘expert’ does not know our old country roads in rural Hau’ula has not increased in size! Hau’ula has existing problems with small and narrow country roads that smaller city garbage trucks could not even ingress or egress. Garbage trucks also have trouble with low-hanging electrical lines.

We live next door to this proposed site and their hired EA consultant never consulted with us or told us about this project in their Environment Assessment” review. The Mayor used $2.4 Million federal HUD Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) funds towards this project. The purpose of the CDBG funds is “to help improve the quality of life and create economic opportunities for its recipients”.

But, Mayor Caldwell has shut down the Recycling Center that provided income for many in low-and-moderate income Hau’ula. In fact, our homeless recycle to buy themselves a hot meal daily. Many do not own vehicles. The next nearest recycling center is in Kahalu’u (about a 40 minutes bus ride) or Haleiwa (about a 40 minutes bus ride). City buses do not allow bags of cans and other recyclables. Da Bus does not allow bulky bags of recyclables.

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Caldwell’s closing of the last two commercial-zoned lots will shut out significant economic opportunities for other small business start-ups such as small country stores, recycling, and farmer’s market. Our Hauula neighbors have also tried to sell the fish they catch, pastele, flower leis, laulau plates and other products on Hau’ula road shoulders only to be chased away by the police for zoning violations.

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It’s pilau to abuse CDBG funds to hurt entrepreneurial options for low-and-moderate income Hau’ula by shutting these last two commercial-zoned parcels. This means that the economic opportunities are forever squashed. The welfare of this low¬ and-moderate income rural community worsens. HUD CDBG funds are meant to improve lives, not create more hardships and problems for its fund recipients.

Mayor Mufi Hannemann/Caldwell violated the “Reasonableness” in this process.  As of the 2010 Census, the COP population for

               HAUULA was  4,148        Has a firehouse

               KAHUKU was  2,614       Has a firehouse

              KA’A’AWA was  1,379      Has a firehouse

              LAIE was 6,138               NEVER had a firehouse

All the above communities have fire stations except Laie. Laie has thousands of tourists at the Polynesian Cultural Center daily. Laie has constructed new BYU-Hawaii single and married student dormitories, classrooms and office facilities. Laie Hawaii Reserves has the new Courtyard Marriott, McDonalds, the new PCC Marketplace with 44 retail shops, new gas station, new student dormitories for Brigham Young University-Hawaii, new Married Student complexes and other income projects.

Despite all the new income construction and population explosion in Laie, the Laie Community Association President Pane Meatoga (close affiliate with Mayor Hannemann) and LCA Board Member Junior Ah You (a member of the Mufi for Governor Exploratory Committee) actively petitioned in 2010, over the opposition of the Hauula Community Board and the Ko’olauloa Neighborhood Chair to build a firehouse on our last two commercial parcels in Hau’ula. It’s the Kahuku Fire Station that primarily serves Laie.

The politically well-connected Laie Community Association (LCA) did not advocate for its own obvious and compelling fire safety needs in Laie. Hawaii Reserves in Laie and LCA board members were collecting petitions for the fire station in Hauula.

The Laie Community Association and Hawaii Reserves, Inc over-reached to shut down our last two business-zoned lots in Hauula! But Laie gets to build more and more income facilities. We get no income opportunities in Hauula but a non-income fire mansion with engines that will wake us up any time of the day and night.

The city did not consider the compelling need for a public firehouse (albeit non-income producing) in for Laie community, the most dense population without a fire station in the Ko’olauloa region. Our 100-year-old 2-lane country Kam Hwy can regularly cut off traffic and isolate communities from each other. All we need is a fallen electric pole or tree or an accident or waves. It happens all the time.

Additionally, the major compelling complaints for “public safety” have been the lack of police protection. Ko’olauloa has a sub-station in Kahuku with four police officers. The next nearest police station is in Kaneohe which is about 40 minutes away to the south and the Wahiawa police station which is about 45 minutes away on the north. There are eight (8) existing fire stations on the same stretch.

Lack of fire facilities have never been a complaint here. There have been complaints of lack of fire hydrants in many pockets of Ko’olauloa. A case in point happened with a domestic fire in Punalu’u on March 23, 2011. Thirty-five (35) fire-fighters, five (5) engines, two (2) ladder-trucks, a water tanker truck and a fire battalion chief responded very quickly but could not effectively protect the public due to lack of basic infrastructure- water hydrants.

Many neighborhood pockets in this rural region do not have fire hydrants. This is a major setback for our firemen and a major public safety concern.

Mayor Hannemann and Mayor Caldwell used federal CDBG funds to force this project but dissed the Executive Order 12898, “Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and low¬ Income populations” that involves the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of All people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.

“FAIR TREATMENT” means that no group of people should bear a disproportionate share of the negative environmental consequences resulting from industrial, government and commercial operations. It’s our opinion that Hawaii Reserves, Inc. does not want to provide its valuable land for non-income public facilities but expect other communities to bear the responsibility for them.

Mayor Mufi Hannemann/Caldwell violated the basic rule of “Rule of Reason”. A standard firehouse in Hawaii and many metropolitan cities uses 19,000 square feet of land space. The new Moiliili-McCully Fire Station was built on 19,555 sq. ft. of land and estimated at $4.6 Million.

Similarly, the Wahiawa Fire Station located at 640 California Ave sits on only 20,000 sq. ft. of land, was demolished and replaced. The Relocation of the Hauula Fire Station to relocate an existing fire station ( 2 minutes away) in Hauula is estimated at $10 Million (and increased to $13M) that required the forced condemnation of the last two commercial lots of 20,297 sq. ft. and 20,296 sq. ft. in the small RURAL community of Hau’ula.

Mayor Hannemann/Caldwell have many superior options and alternatives for their relocation than shutting down the last two commercial-zoned lots in Hauula. The only reason we can think of Mayor Caldwell forcing this relocation project on us is he owes a big building contract to his donors.

Please help Mayor Caldwell be pono and bring common sense decisions back to City Hall. Be fair and don’t waste money that we don’t have.

DELETE Mayor Caldwell’s request for $6.7 Million for 2016-2017. Put a stop for this $13 Million “Nieman Marcus” firehouse once and for all. Keep the Country Country! City Council Chair Ernie Martin, please help us.

KTCC-Apron

                                             Malama pono,

Marvin Iseke  808 293 9525

Shirley Ann Lessary

Alice Ubando

 

Oahu General Plan Provides Diversification & Sustainability

Ko'olau Region Larry McelhenyPublished March 5, 2015 Civil Beat http://www.civilbeat.org/2015/03/oahu-general-plan-provides-diversification-and-sustainability/

Who can quarrel that “diversification” is essential for long-term dividends and sustainability?

Within a typical business portfolio, diversification mixes a variety of investments as part of a risk management strategy.

Similarly, the Oahu General Plan provides such diversification by designating regions like Ko’olauloa as “rural country”, counter balancing high-density regions regions like urban Honolulu.

In fact, Hawaii is the only state in the Union that has an over-all comprehensive land-use plan and designations. The “Hawaii State Plan” HRS §226 – aim for wise use of Hawaii’s resources and to guide future development of the State. It includes providing a basis for determining priorities and allocating limited resources, such as public funds, services, human resources, land, energy, water, and other resources.

On the county level, the “General Plan” is a requirement of the City Charter.  The desirable future for the Island of Oahu is organized through deliberations on the long-range social, economic, environmental, and design objectives for the general welfare and prosperity of the people of Oahu.

This General Plan balances eight (8) different diversified regional plans for the island of Oahu.

  1.        Primary Urban Center
  2.        Central Oahu
  3.        Ewa (Secondary Urban Center)
  4.        East Honolulu (Urban Fringe)
  5.        Ko’olaupoko (Urban –Fringe)
  6.        Ko’olauloa  (Rural)
  7.        North Shore (Rural)
  8.        Waianae (Rural)

 General plan map

The Oahu General Plan designates Ko’olauloa  as RURAL where “agricultural lands are preserved for agricultural uses,” with “the ‘ahupuaa concept as the organizing basis for land use planning and natural resource management in Ko’olau Loa.”

It further specifies that Koolauloa’s natural resources and predominantly “rural” character should be maintained by allowing only limited development in established communities, and that agricultural lands along the Windward be maintained for diversified agriculture. Open space and view planes are also valued.

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Bill 47 –  Mayor Mufi Hannemann/Caldwell’s Footprint:

The current Bill 47 is the 2010 Hannemann/Caldwell Draft of Koolauloa Sustainable Communities Plan (KSCP).  This 2010 Hannemann/Caldwell KSCP Draft contradicts  the values and vision as outlined in the 1999 KSCP , the Oahu General Plan, and Hawaii 2050 Plan.

Mayor Mufi Hannemann unilaterally inserted the new subdivision at Malaekahana  into the 2010 KSCP Draft just before he resigned to run for the 2010 gubernatorial race. His Managing Director Kirk Caldwell became the Acting Mayor.

This Hannemann/Caldwell 2010 Draft created much friction and push back from Ko’olauloa residents.

Moving the Community Growth Boundary to Malaekahana for 875 homes, a regional commercial center, industrial, technology parks, schools, and vacation cabins on 900 acres (now 300) of agricultural lands obviously violates the KSCP and Oahu General Plan.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell Follows Mufi’s  Footsteps:

Mayor Kirk Caldwell continues his support for a new subdivision in Malaekahana based on alleged “overwhelming support for affordable housing and that it could be provided by HRI” and that “Envision Laie is a long range proposal to grow the Brigham Young University of Hawaii (BYUH) and associated support services.”

Furthermore, Caldwell also supports the highly controversial Koa Ridge and Ho’opili subdivisions by arguing it is in the Oahu General Plan that was initiated in the 1970s.

Factually, the rural KSCP that they chose to violate has also been in the same Oahu General Plan since the 1970s! He cannot decide when to wave the Oahu General Plan card or when to ignore it.

Honolulu Rail and the “Keep the Country Country” Rationale.

KTCC photo

Mayor Kirk Caldwell and other rail advocates have repeatedly urged residents to support the Honolulu Rail   in order to “Keep the Country Country” (to  contain urban sprawl by concentrating development along the 21-mile rail corridor).

This rationale for the Honolulu Rail and Transit-Oriented development in order to “Keep the Country Country” continues to be marketed today.

We now respectfully ask Mayor Kirk Caldwell and others to be consistent and to walk the talk.

City Council Zoning and Planning Chair Anderson Corrects the Course:

We are heartened that the City Council Planning & Zoning Committee Chair Ikaika Anderson has amended Bill 47 to now conform to the letter and spirit of the existing KSCP and the Oahu General Plan.

This is a welcome action on many different levels.

This Honolulu City Council has the opportunity to stem the divisiveness and pilikia amongst Laie residents and the entire Ko’olauloa moku on this issue alone.

The common complaint has been that Mayor Mufi Hannemann offered special treatment to Laie due to his close affiliations.

Envision Ko’olauloa, not  Envision Laie.

These amendments, that many see as positive, to remove Malaekahana from the KSCP Draft will turn a page and heal the rift and angst.

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The City Council’s pono leadership to make things right will help restore respect  and neighborliness along the Ko’olauloa region.

Above all, it will present new opportunities for hopeful residents to explore realistic goals for personal temporal well-being instead of depending on HRI’s perennial enticements that have not come to fruition in decades. The carrot stick of “affordable housing   is dangled whenever Zions Securities/HRI needs community support for its own profit schemes. Imagine, if the faithful hopefuls had bought homes 20 years ago, their mortgage would have been nearly paid off today.

Adhere to the Oahu General Plan:

The Oahu General Plan is not perfect but it provides land-use diversification and sustainability for our small island home.

If the State and County land use principles are adhered to, much of the divisiveness can be easily avoided and communities can turn attention to collaborative projects that benefit the majority of the public.

The City Council’s correction of this controversial deviation from the General Plan will set a pono path for the future of Ko’olauloa.

Ko’olauloa Neighborhood Board #28 (Part 2 of 3)

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YOU ARE THE DIFFERENCE

The theme, “The Responsible City”, was chosen by the City Charter Commission when it presented the revised City Charter to the voters in 1972. A major component of this concept is full citizen participation in government so that the powers of the City shall properly serve and advance the aspirations of its citizens.

However, the initiative for action must come from the people themselves. While neighborhoods and neighborhood boards were established under the Charter as a means to increase and assure effective citizens participation, their creation and implementation are optional.

The Neighborhood Plan, which designates boundaries and provides for neighborhood formation, leaves many decisions open to the community so that an individually designed approach, suited to each neighborhood can be implemented.

In 1984, Oahu’s voters approved a City Charter a City Charter amendment expanding the role of the neighborhood boards to include all levels of government. Every resident has the opportunity to participate in government decision making which affects his or her community. You can play a significant part in making government more responsive to community needs. The decision is up to you.” https://www1.honolulu.gov/nco/office.htm

The Ko’olauloa Neighborhood Board #28  was one of the first to be formed in the 1970s under the leadership of Honolulu Mayor Frank Fasi.

In 2013, the members of the Koolauloa Board #28 were voted into office with a overall vote of 8.61%  in the last election.

DSC08368May 8, 2014 meeting at the Hauula Elementary School

Unfortunately, Ko’olauloa Neighborhood Board #28 has recently been plagued with citizens’ complaints of violations due to lack of transparency and conflicts of interest.

On  December 7, 2010, the Hawaii Independent reported the City and County of Honolulu Neighborhood Commission issued  a FINDINGS OF FACT, CONCLUSIONS OF LAW, AND DECISION AND ORDER  on the Ko’olauloa Neighborhood Board #28:

” .  . .  the commission ruled that the Koolau Loa Neighborhood Board, on the day it voted to support Envision Laie, unintentionally violated Hawaii Sushine Laws by not allowing everyone the chance to testify at the special meeting. Junior Primacio and Richard Fale were the board chairs in charge that day in 2009.

Other infractions, which the commission labeled as “serious and deleterious to the neighborhood board system,” included the use of sign-up sheets that were removed either before or during the meeting and the non-consideration of written testimony before the board took its 7-to-4 in favor vote.

In addition to receiving a letter of reprimand, the Koolau Loa Neighborhood Board, if it wishes to take a stand on the project, must schedule another meeting and allow all written and oral testimony to be received, reviewed, and considered before taking a vote.”

On November 14,  2013, a similar presentation relating to the same issue was presented by the long-time Laie Community Association President Pane Meatoga ( who is also  the District Representative with the Operating Engineers Local Union 3):

 VII.       NEW BUSINESS 10 Minute Limit per Speaker

A.    Presentation by La`ie Community Association (LCA) Seeking Board Support for Envision La`ie and Ko`olauloa Sustainable Communities Plan – Pane Meatoga, Jr., LCA President

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The LCA presentation continued on to December 9, 2013 whereby the Ko’olauloa Neighborhood Board #28 took a vote to support the above agenda. The outcome was predicted as reported.

Subsequently,   three complaints against the Ko’olauloa Neighborhood Board #28 were filed at the Honolulu Neighborhood Commission. Hearings for  Marvin Iseke, Andrea Nixt and Lea Minton vs the Ko’olauloa Neighborhood Board #28 were set for May 28, 2014 at the Honolulu Hale Committee Room at 6:00 pm.

DSC08631NB #28 Chair Verla Moore in blue with 80-year-old Hauula kupuna Marvin Iseke in striped shirt.

Ko’olaulau residents contend that former Mayor Mufi Hannemann and his Managing Director Kirk Caldwell,  provided preferential treatment to Hawaii Reserves Inc. in Laie by unilaterally inserting the “Envision Laie” development plan into the Ko’olauloa Sustainable Communities Plan in 2010. (However, it should be noted that many in Laie oppose the Envision Laie but prefer not to publicly voice their opinions, for whatever reasons.)

Residents also allege that current  Chair Verla Moore, also a member of the Laie Community Association Board,  plays favoritism as to who can have a presentation at board meetings.

Residents contend that  generally no prior efforts were expended to evaluate these matters in a careful and non-discriminating way. No information gathering or research was expended. They perceive an entrenched bloc vote that  ignores all the other communities in Ko’olauloa.

Alleged violations presented at the May 28, 2014 hearing included the following:

 §2-13-104 Standards of conduct. (a) Board members, in the performance of their duties, shall demonstrate by their example the highest standards of ethical conduct, to the end that the public may justifiably have trust and confidence in the integrity of the neighborhood board system. Board members shall hold their offices or positions for the benefit of the public, shall recognize that the public’s interest is their primary concern, and shall faithfully discharge the duties of their offices regardless of personal considerations.

(b) Board members shall not use their positions to secure or grant special consideration, treatment, advantage, privilege, or exemption to themselves or any person beyond that which is available to every other person.
(c) Board members are not officers or employees of the city by reason of their position. However, the standards of conduct policy shall apply to all board members. [Eff 10/20/08] (Auth: RCH §14-103(a)) (Imp: RCH §14-104)

§2-13-107 Representative capacity of board members. (a) Each member of a board shall represent the entire district and act responsibly to fulfill the board’s democratic and advisory duty.

Violation:

Yet, on December 9, 2013 Verla Moore KNB #28 Chair and her bloc adopted a Resolution to support her own Laie Association’s request to support Envision Laie and the Ko’olauloa Sustainable Communities Plan against all opposition in the region.

The Neighborhood Board members who voted to support the Laie Community Association’s request had not read the Environmental Studies as well as the voluminous facts and circumstances surround this controversial issue. You can see this on the video tape. They just accepted Pane Meatoga’s words as facts. Residents are given very limited opportunities to talk and not allowed to ask questions.

The Neighborhood Commission Hearings lasted about four hours.  Anita Hofschneider from Civil Beat reported parts of it:

DSC08596Complainant Andrea Nixt from Ka’a’awa with Laie Community President Pane Meatoga in the background.

The conflict played out again Wednesday evening when Andrea Anixt from Kaaawa, Lea Minton from Punaluu and Marvin Iseki from Hauula contested the board’s December endorsement of the latest version of the Koolau Loa Sustainable Communities Plan in a four-hour-long hearing before the Neighborhood Commission at Honolulu Hale.

Anixt, Minton and Iseke said the board members who voted for the project failed to represent the interests of the Koolau Loa community as a whole. They also said several members had conflicts of interests because they or their family members are employed by BYU-Hawaii and HRI.

The board’s chairwoman, Verla Moore, vehemently denied the allegations, saying that the board painstakingly ensured that all the rules were followed.

She emphasized that the homes would be for the “poor and unknown,” instead of for rich people like GoPro CEO Nicholas Woodman, who made headlines that day for purchasing a $9.2 million property on the North Shore.

She suggested that the three residents who criticized the board appeared to be haole while many on the board were Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander.

“You look at my board members, you look at their faces. I go back 150 years here,” Moore said to the commission. “You look at our opposition. When did they come here? 10 years ago?”

“We let you in, let us guys stay,” she added.

Minton, who testified next on behalf of the Defend Oahu Coalition, said she was born and raised in Hawaii and went to Kahuku High School.

“We’re not here to discuss white people versus Hawaiians,” Minton said. “When you sit in a position of power and you’re elected to that neighborhood board, you’re there to represent everybody.”

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Lea Minton disclosed that she received threatening phone calls, including to her employer to fire her for testifying at the  October 8, 2013 City Council hearing at Kahuku High School. She also received a death threat.

Unfortunately, Minton further pointed out being harassed by a member of the Ko’olauloa Neighborhood Board #28 on the way to the Hearing that night .  That particular board member apologized later at the hearing, explaining he had had a hard day.

The Neighborhood Board Commission is slated to render their decision within 45 days.

If Mayor Frank Fasi were alive today, he would probably continue to be proud of his accomplishment in providing a public forum for the grassroots. Fasi would understand that democracy could get messy but he would probably have a few choice words about uncalled-for bullying behavior. All in all, he would be happy to see citizens participate and pursue clarifications and redress when and where needed.

 

 

 

Ko’olauloa Neighborhood Board #28 (Part 1 of 3)

Frank_Fasi

Mayor Frank Fasi established one of the nation’s largest elected neighborhood board systems for Honolulu in the 1970s. Its purpose was to encourage civic participation.

Fasi certainly helped create the ideal environment for a robust and healthy interaction between grassroots constituents and their elected officials:

The Neighborhood Board is full citizen participation in government so that the powers of the City can properly serve and advance the aspirations of its citizens. Through the Neighborhood Board system, every resident has the opportunity to participate in government decision making which affects his or her community. The system applies the concept of participatory democracy, involving communities in the decisions affecting them. It establishes an island wide network of elected neighborhood boards as communication channels, expanding and facilitating opportunities for community and government interaction.

In 1984, Oahu’s voters approved a City Charter a City Charter amendment expanding the role of the neighborhood boards to include all levels of government. Every resident has the opportunity to participate in government decision making which affects his or her community. You can play a significant part in making government more responsive to community needs. The decision is up to you.

Because I live in the Ko’olauloa area, I’ll conveniently focus on the  Ko’olauloa  Neighborhood Board #28.

KNB5-8-14 Board meeting at Hauula Elementary School – May 8, 2014

The members of the Koolauloa Board #28 was voted into office with a overall vote of 8.61% in the last election. This lack of participation is unequivocally an issue that needs discussion.

The most recent Ko’olauloa Neighborhood Board meeting was sparsely attended.

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Perhaps, it was the May 8, 2014 agenda content that did not garner much attention:

VII.NEW BUSINESS (10 Minute Limit per Speaker)

A. Board Action: Member Hans Ta’ala’s Three (3) Absences for the Year

B. Bus Stop Volunteer Program – Department of Transportation, Public Transit Division          Representative

The  above Laie board member had missed three meetings during the year and his absence that night was an additional absence.  Laie representatives Kela Miller and Gaylene Nikora Lolofie defended Ta’ala with the premise that Ta’ala was not present to explain the reasons for his absences and to allow Ta’ala the opportunity to explain at the following meeting before any action is taken.

The Bus Stop Volunteer Program had a bureaucrat encouraging constituents to assist in building and bus-stops maintenance for free labor.

Other issues like the controversial Honolulu City Council  Bill 47 that amends the 1999 Ko’olauloa Sustainable Communities Plan to include  the proposed new subdivision ” Enviision Laie” at Gunstock, located at Maleakahana, Kahuku and the expansion of the Turtle Bay Resort certainly garnered attention.

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June 8, 2014 may turn up to be a sleeper meeting again. The agenda for new business is as follows:

VIII.      NEW BUSINESS (10 Minute Limit per Speaker)

  1. Board Action: Member Norman Thompson, III Three (3) Absences for the Year

  2. Board Action: Member Hans Ta’ala’s Three (3) Absences for the Year

The Ko’olauloa Neighborhood Board #28 meetings are aired on`Olelo Broadcasting Television –  the 4th Friday at 9:00 p.m. on Channel 49, and on the 2nd and 4th Sunday at 12:00 noon on Channel 54.  Citizens can watch these board meetings any time on http://www.Olelo.org and click “On Demand”.

 

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell Displays Little Democratic Party Values

16848-950221d4ad080c85d688e4229b4f722d06234e80ce106aae257ec951_w-240_px                                                                                                     Photo by Dr. Chad Blair, Civil Beat

Civil Beat’s article by Marsha Rose Joyner  about the hard-fought values of the Democratic Party included the above photo with Kirk Caldwell taking center stage at the 2012 Hawaii Democratic Party Convention.

I’m sorry to say but Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s governance style at City Hall is an affront to basic democratic values. The Democratic Party prides itself in being a voice for the unprivileged and underserved.  Caldwell is doing the opposite.

Here are a few of my reasons:

While the Mayor talks a lot about homelessness and wants to spend millions of dollars addressing it,  he does not talk about aggravating homelessness in Kahuku, Ko’olauloa.

It makes no sense to spend millions of dollars to create new housing programs for homelessness in one area and turn around to create more homelessness in another.

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About 31 Kahuku Plantation Camp families are being evicted because Caldwell refuses to collaborate with the Honolulu City Council.  Generally, landlord-tenant issues are private but there are long-standing obligations and promises made to these plantation workers. Caldwell’s cope-out excuse was that  the land owner Continental Pacific LLC ( CP) was a ‘private owner’.

It’s important to note that the decision to fund monies to create a solution for the Kahuku Plantation Camp controversy was approved, by an unanimous City Council vote.  Mayor Caldwell dismissed the Council’s efforts. Residents continue to be of the mind that the Mayor refused to help because the attorney, Lex Smith, representing CP was his former campaign chair. The Mayor denied any undue influence or conflict of interests.

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The  evicted Salanoa family dwelling above has been promptly sold to a new cash buyer.  It has since been stripped to bare bones and will be renovated. The Kahuku plantation families are scrambling. Their families and friends are bending backwards to provide temporary shelter. Gentrification – where the more affluent is pushing out the less affluent – is happening quickly at the Kahuku Plantation Camp.

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The Mayor is also known for his relentless raiding of homeless tents in Honolulu.  The photo above shows a  Honolulu homeless woman who had to travel all the way to the Halawa Maintenance Yard to collect her seized items with a borrowed truck. It cost her $200 to reclaim her items. Homeless citizens have been methodically chased from the beaches, parks and pushed onto sidewalks and highway ducts. Some homeless people have taken to the forests and less open places.

The Mayor’s  incessant raids on the homeless included odd hours like 3 o’clock in the morning. A Mayor’s representative once explained his compassion by saying that they usually raided tents late at night.   I suppose that 3:00 am is not late at night! It’s simply during the time period where most people enjoy the deepest sleep.

It’s been estimated that about $1M has been expended to play cat-and-mouse raiding on the tents around Thomas Square with the De-Occupy group. This group’s goal was to  focus attention on homelessness solutions.  Ironically, the Mayor’s solution to the sidewalk blockage by those tents was to install planter boxes that also blocked the same sidewalk. A willingness to sit at the conversation table with the De-Occupy group would probably have saved the city significant amount of expenses.

Persecuting the homeless and raiding of tents is not a long-term approach. It’s time to give up status quo approaches by collaborating with independent voices to help work out solutions rather than relentlessly persecuting the most vulnerable in society with no viable solution in hand.

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Adding to his disjointed policies, the Mayor also dispatched the Halawa Maintenance crew of about a dozen city workers, six policemen, a front-end loader and a commercial dump truck  to our property in Hauula in May and October of 2013.

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The Mission – to raid our free speech signs and installed the above posting to shut down our private business with Reynolds Recycling in October 2014.  It was a retaliatory show of force and intimidation in our ongoing eminent domain case on this parcel, of which we’re still the fee owners.

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Consequently, the Reynolds Recycling in Hauula on our Lot was shut down because of the retaliatory posted sign at 54-282 Kamehameha Highway, Hauula, 96717 . The photo above showed a Hauula homeless man walking his recyclables to the next nearest  Kahuku recycling site (about a six-mile distance) on the day the recycling center was shut down by Caldwell.

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Many called Caldwell’s office to protest. He quickly requested the Reynolds Recycling to return but this time on the city-owned Lot next door.

However,  the Mayor did not disclose that his was a temporary measure. Should the Mayor be allowed to build his Neiman Marcus Fire Station replacement in rural Hauula, the last two commercial-zoned lots with recycling  and other small business opportunities will be gone forever!

Many homeless people in Hauula collect recycle items daily to afford a daily hot meal at the grocery stores. Others are also hoping for inexpensive commercial-zoned spots for country stores and entrepreneurial ideas. Yet, the Mayor refuses to explore other alternative sites for the firehouse relocation when the past Mayor Peter Carlisle was willing to do.

Affected Residents were denied due process.  Residents complained that if they were in Kahala, they would not receive this shoddy treatment. They were never informed and consulted up to today about the controversial Hauula Fire Station relocation proposal. They continued to be ignored despite over 1,200 signatures opposing the process. The Mayor’s spokesman continued to disperse disinformation about the owners being uncooperative. The truth is even if the owners DONATED the land to the city, due process to the affected residents still had to be provided.

Despite vigorous protests against the project, Caldwell has hired an experienced litigator to vigorously pursue the eminent domain case in court. The obligatory costs to the city to the defendants are presently at least 700% more than was represented to the City Council by Land Chief Thomas Miyata.

The Mayor has also included two extra city litigators to his free speech violations court case.

The above are a few selected reasons  why I believe Mayor Kirk Caldwell is an affront to basic values of the Democratic Party. It’s unsettling to see Caldwell in the center stage of  Hawaii Democratic Party whose touted pride includes being a champion of the little people.

The Mayor’s behavior at City Hall engenders injustice that none of us can be proud of. His behavior cannot be ignored, for if we’re neutral in situations of injustice, we become the enablers.

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Surf, Aloha Aina, and Dustin Barca for Mayor

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/choon-james/hawaiis-politics-surf-alo_b_5303283.html?ir=Hawaii

Even Paradise has elections!
 
Politics in Kauai, the only island that was not conquered by King Kamehameha the Great, just got a little more exciting with Dustin Barca’s recent announcement to run for Mayor.
 
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Barca’s FACEBOOK announcement on May 8, 2014: 
IT IS OFFICIAL LADIES AND GENTLEMAN !!!!! BARCA 4 MAYOR!!! — WE just pulled papers to Run for Mayor of Kaua’i and Ni’ihau . With Mayor Bernard Carvalho Making such BAD decisions for the Future of OUR Home and Kids. WE are Left with NO other choice but to Take his Chair and BRING IT BACK TO THE PEOPLE OF KAUA’I!! WE are up against Big Corporations with MAYOR CARVALHO NUMBER 1 SUPPORTERS BEING DOW,SYNGENTA, BASF, DUPONT/PIONEER AND FARIAS CATTLE. IT’S GONNA BE A UPHILL FIGHT. But WE Have Never Been One To Turn Down A Good Challenge! OUR GOALS ARE PURELY INTENTIONAL FOR THE FUTURE OF OUR CHILDREN, OUR CULTURE AND OUR NATURAL RESOURCES! WE are Not Politicians , WE are just Average people like everybody else. WE Know that it is Now or Never for our future. TIME TO THINK GLOBAL AND ACT LOCAL. GROW FOOD.RESTORE THE CULTURE. RESTORE AND PROTECT OUR WATER . CRACK DOWN ON DRUGS. I Am Dustin Barca And I Approve This message.= #akuaisthyguide #barca4mayor #time4change #alohaaina #alohaainawarrior #thinkglobalactlocal #holyshit #bethechange
On a larger scale, Dustin Barca, married with children (and hundreds of nephews and nieces) will take on what fathers naturally do – protect their children and assuring the future will be better for them.
 
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A few days before his filing for the Mayor’s position, there had been posts reflecting widespread disappointments in the disconnect between government and its people in his Facebook: 
Dustin Barca
May 1
TIME 4 CHANGE!!!
 
It is with deep regret and disappointment we announce the indefinite deferral (death) of the last two good agriculture and food bills in Hawaii. They just killed the local food security bill SB524 and SB2110 pesticide inspector/outreach bill. Guess our legislature doesn’t even care. Conferees all absent but good Rep. Wooley and bad pro-GMO Senator Nishihara…
 
“I found it very difficult and frustrating to see so many good bills die for no reason when they were going to support food security and food sustainability,” said Representative Wooley after the hearing.
 
Not a single pesticide or GMO related bill survived, despite the many promises of legislators and Governor Abercrombie, as an empty promise and attempt to derail County ordinances to regulate where the state repeatedly refuses, during county pesticide and GMO proceedings. SB524 and SB2110 are dead. The conferees didn’t even bother to show up so without quorum both bills were DEFERRED INDEFINITELY. Souki killed the dog meat ban bill. They killed the ivory ban (HB493) bill, the pesticide inspector bill died, GMO labeling, the local food policy bill, the taro preservation bill and of course, the clean elections bill. Our legislature is almost useless.
 
No funding or good bills for irrigation, pesticides or livestock feed.
 
This place needs a full sweep top to bottom. There are very few legislators left who seem to really care at all about food or agriculture in Hawaii. We will tell you who the few good are.
 
Are they here to do something or nothing? They have done NOTHING meaningful for food security this year aside from small kine invasive species bill, nothing.
 
Words cannot express how disappointed we are in our State government today. Sometimes it seems completely worthless, which is why we MUST STAND UP FIGHT BACK REGISTER AND GET READY TO VOTE THE FUTURE OF HAWAII DEPENDS ON YOU.
 
REGISTER TO VOTE BY JULY 10Th VOTE PRIMARIES AUGUST 9th and November 4th we MUST CLEAN HOUSE.
 
Barca’s background as an accomplished surfer and mixed-martial arts fighter will further define his environment activism for a clean and sustainable island home, now and the future. 
 
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Dustin Barca  will literally embark on his mayoral campaign with a race –  by paddling from Ke’e to Polihale. Barca will then run around the island, from Polihale to Ke`e, from May 29 – June 1
 
He will stop along the way to honor some of Kauai’s significant historical areas, talk-story with  the community and find out more about their concerns and dreams for Kaua‘i. This high-energy journey will conclude with a pa`ina (gathering with food!) to be held on
Sunday, June 1,
 2-8 pm in Hanalei. 
 
Chances are high that Barca will not receive “big-money” donations from corporations or monied special interests. Without a huge war chest for relentless television and radio campaign advertisements and other propaganda, it will be up to the grassroots to convince and rally the whole island of Kauai to win this “Aloha Aina” battle. 
 
It’s in Kauai and its people’s DNA to come off the conqueror, again!
 
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Credit: All photos from Barca’s FACEBOOK

Honolulu City Hall – Where is the Common Sense and Aloha?

 
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/choon-james/honolulu-city-hall-where-_b_5056979.html

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Hauula residents and others, including the firemen community, are scratching their heads about the Hauula Fire Station Relocation project. Perhaps the words of a former fire commissioner describes this project best: ‘It doesn’t make sense!’

Hau’ula is a quiet rural community of about 4,000 residents, situated in the Ko’olau Loa region of Oahu, Hawaii. Several coastal communities — Waikane-Waiahole, K’a’a’awa, Kahana, Punalu’u, Hau’ula, Laie, Kahuku, and Kawela — are wedged between the Pacific Ocean and the predominant Ko’olau mountain range.

The Ko’olau Loa region is the birthplace of the ‘Keep The Country Country’ movement to preserve its rural charm, view planes, culture, and lifestyle of local island living.

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The rural communities are linked by the only arterial 2-lane country road, known as ‘Kamehameha Highway’. ‘Kam Hwy’ meanders along the coast of this Ko’olau Loa region.

In terms of ‘public safety’ needs, there are eight existing fire stations in this region but only one police substation (with four policemen on duty) in Kahuku. The next nearest police station is Wahiawa, a 40-minutes drive north. South of the Kahuku Police substation is the Kaneohe Police Station, about 35 minutes away.

There are chronic cries for more police services along this 20-mile stretch where police response can take up to forty minutes. In fact, there is a joke amongst locals to call the fire department for emergency as they are always available!

The former Mayor Peter Carlisle was amicable to exploring alternative sites with the affected parties.

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Unfortunately, when Kirk Caldwell, former Mayor Mufi Hannemann’s Managing Director, became the Mayor in 2013, he resurrected the culture of bullying to further seize an additional 20,300 sq. ft. of commercial-zoned parcel to replace the existing Hauula Fire Station. This seizure will DOUBLE the lot size and TRIPLE the costs of a typical firehouse..

As if eminent domain takings in the courts were not enough, Caldwell brought out his bulldozer and police force to silence dissension!

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Mayor Caldwell also dispatched his newly-appointed Fire Chief Manny Neves to vigorously lobby, in their crisp uniforms and shiny buttons, for their pet project. (Many fire personnel have privately expressed disdain but they have no say in the politics.)

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When 77-year-old neighbor Alice Ubando voiced her concerns about fire sirens at all hours of the day and night, the fire chief replied that everybody loved a fire station!

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From the start, the organized city hall disinformation includes a litany of weak premises and made-up rationale along the way. This involved the bureaucrats to politicians to the spokesmen.

One premise was the existing fire station needed to get out of the flood zone. However, city bureaucrats failed to disclose that their first site selection was a 1.65 acre beachfront parcel! Surely a beachfront lot was in the flood zone.

Furthermore, the existing fire station has two acres of government-owned land in its backyard. Expanding into this area would not require decimating the last two commercial-zoned parcels in Hau’ula. But city’s disinformation to the judges and city council is the backyard area is ‘swampland’.

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The photo clearly shows no swampland. One side of the fence on the city playground is mowed and the other side behind the firehouse is unkept and is full of weeds.

Residents contend that $13 Million could go a long ways to meet some other pressing needs in the region. After all, the city, as always, is facing a budget shortfall, this year of about $46M.

Amidst penny-pinching of small dollars and cents during this 2015 City Budget session, Caldwell is seeking $750,000.00 to ‘plan & design’ this extravagant project from the Honolulu City Council. The lawsuits are pending. It’s premature and unjustified to squander on ‘planning & design’ today.

$13 Million could get a bigger bang for the buck and provide much needed services for the public such as these:

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The 122-acres Kahuku ‘Municipal’ Golf Course is in eminent danger of being sold to a Chinese investor.

 

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31 families face evictions at this Kahuku Plantation Camp. Yet Mayor Caldwell continues to ignore the situation. The 91-year-old occupant of this humble plantation house has been evicted as of March 2014. Caldwell states his reluctance to intervene in the Kahuku Plantation Camp and golf course is not because his former campaign chair is also the attorney representing the big landowner.

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Ko’olau Loa residents further contend if the city were really concerned about ‘fire safety’, it would focus on providing fire hydrants for the rural region. There are neighborhood pockets in the region without fire hydrants nearby. A Punalu’u house burnt despite the quick presence of 35 firemen, 5 engines, 2 ladders, 1 tanker and a battalion chief. Their challenge? No fire hydrants nearby.

Additionally, the City’s Environmental Assessment (EA) Report clearly stated the proposed $13 Million relocation propect would NOT increase personnel or area of service.

A Facebook blogger pointed out the following facts to further highlight the illogical premise of this $13M firehouse in rural Hau’ula:

  • As of the 2010 Census, the CDP population for
  • KA’A’AWA was 1,379. (has a typical fire station)
  • HAUULA was 4,148. ( has a typical fire station)
  • KAHUKU was 2,614. ( has a typical station)
  • LAIE was 6,138. ( has NO fire station)

Other small communities have fire stations except Laie. LAIE is home to the Polynesian Cultural Center, new Marriott Hotel, new student dormitories on Brigham Young University — Hawaii campus.

The blogger also suggested a site, in Laie:

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“Why no fire station in Laie? Because ( Laie landowner) Hawaii Reserves Inc. wants income projects! A fire station/police/EMS building produces no income for them. Time to connect the dots! ”

It is also ironic that the city had used Community Development Block Grants ( CDBG) to condemn the last two remaining commercial lots in rural Hauula. CDBG funds were approved partly because of the poverty level in Hauula. The $1 Million CDBG funds from the federal government are meant to empower and improve the lives of poor communities.

However, the loss of the heavily-used Recycling Center on the parcel will create more hardships on the people. Some homeless residents are known to collect recyclables in the community daily to afford a hot meal a day.

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The opportunities and small businesses that can be created from these last two commercial-zoned lots will also be cut off. The city would lose tax revenues!

Despite overwhelming push back, Mayor Kirk Caldwell continues to wield the big arm of government. He has hired a new city attorney, an experienced litigator, from his law firm to seize the additional parcel in the name of ‘public purpose’.

The only explanation that residents have for the Mayor’s erratic and irrational behavior is he owes a plum firehouse contract to one of his donors.

Questions for discussion:

  • Is a firehouse a true ‘Public Purpose’ if majority of the people are against it?
  • What is the difference between disinformation and misinformation?
  • Should city bureaucrats deserve all credibility and the public, none?
  • An average firehouse costs $5 Million, is there a need for this $13M extravagant project in rural Hau’ula?
  • Will common sense prevail over politics?
  • Should the most affected people have a significant say?
  • Is this project managed by the law of the jungle or rule of law?
  • What would you do if you were the Mayor of Honolulu?
  • What would you do if you were in the City Council?
  • What would you do if you were responsible for approving the federal CDBG funds?
  • What can a citizen expect from the government?

Note: Choon James has an interest in Lot 65. Her husband’s grandfather was buried in his fireman uniform. Many opposing this project have relatives working in the fire department on the island and nationally.

Pomp and Circumstance – Graduation, Hawaii Style

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/choon-james/hawaii-graduation-class_b_5155632.html

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High school and college graduation ceremonies are coming up. Educational institutions throughout the islands are gearing up for another festive season to celebrate academia, endurance and achievements.

Part of the fun is seeing the types of leis (garlands) showered upon the graduates at the close of a graduation ceremony.

Besides the traditional beautiful flower leis, other styles and materials depend partly on the culture and personality of the creators!

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But, first, a Tongan or Samoan mom may stake out a welcome mat for the special grad:

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Or if mom is about impending hunger, she will also provide bento lunches for families and relatives who attend the ceremony. This is not counting the big luaus in the next few days or so.

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Balloon leis appear to be in vogue!

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This “soda lei” around the neck probably weighs as much as an albatross.

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We should be impressed by this “quick lunch lei” — saimin noodles, popcorn and lunchmeat! (I was told I missed the bread loaves and the toilet paper roll leis!)

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Then there’s the coveted Wall Street headgear for her:

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And for him:

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Candy, chips and other tropical foliage leis are now an integral part of Hawaii graduations.

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Whew! Professors and teachers are off the radar screen. Gone are the midnight raids on the vending machines, last-minute cramming, churning out research papers and projects, asking miracles to inspire an empty mind during exams, juggling social and academic responsibilities, handling love dramas, coming up with solutions to save the world in an hour, and a million other things. The rigors and academia chapter will close. Another exciting chapter will begin.

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Whatever type of lei is bestowed upon the graduate, the celebration is: You did it!

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What is the vision for Kaka’ako Makai, Honolulu?

This is a photo circulating in facebook. It explains the situation clearly.  Many Hawaii residents are perturbed that Senate Bill 3122 will allow the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA), a state agency to develop residential high-rises within Kaka’ako Makai (ocean-side) – Honolulu’s last remaining public shoreline area, where residential development is now prohibited by law.

Kaka'ako Makai

SB 3122 will be heard by the House Committee on Water and Land on Monday, March 10, 2014 at 8:45 am

Anyone can submit testimony via http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/login/login.aspx
Hawaii’s Thousand Friends presents a clear and logical summary for its opposition to SB 3122:
“SB 3122 SD2 seeks to exempt OHA, now owner of several Kakaako Makai parcels, from the 2006 law which prohibited residential development of land makai of Ala Moana Boulevard between Honolulu Harbor and Kewalo Basin.Residential development in Kakaako Makai was banned by the legislature after massive citizen protests against an A&B proposal to construct several 200-foot condo towers there.
HCDA law §206E-31.5…prohibits the authority from: (2) Approving any plan or proposal for any residential development in that portion of the Kakaako community development district makai of Ala Moana Boulevard and between Kewalo Basin and the foreign trade zone.
From 2006 to 2010, in a planning process called by HCDA, people came together to guide the development of the Kakaako Waterfront for the benefit of not only the Kakaako community but for all the people of Hawaii. (4/6/11 staff report)
The result was a conceptual master plan for Kakaako Makai with 9 components, including park expansion/enhancement and waterfront access via parking and traffic circulation measures

Now, SB 3122 SD2 proposes to undo the prohibition of residential development in Kakaako Makai. This must not be allowed because

Kakaako Waterfront Park is one of the last strips of open space and parkland with public access to the shoreline along the urban Honolulu coastline.

With 30 new high-rise towers proposed for Kakaako Mauka and a projected population of 30,000+, there will be a need for this open park space

Kakaako Makai offers open access to shoreline fishing, diving and popular body boarding and surf sites, as well as a waterfront promenade, picnic areas, and significant panoramic views.

OHA knew of the residential restrictions when they accepted the Kakaako Makai property, but now wants to develop 4 or 5 condo towers.

In 2006 when legislators prohibited residential development in Kakaako Makai, with only 1 lawmaker in each chamber opposing, it was evident that the legislature had spoken. Are legislator’s votes only good for 8 years? “

SB 3122 SD2 Status: Hawaii Community Development Authority – Allows the OHA state agency to develop residential high-rises within Kaka’ako Makai ( oceanside) – Honolulu’s last remaining public shoreline where residential development is now prohibited by law.   
Introducer(s): GALUTERIA, DELA CRUZ, HEE, KAHELE, KIDANI, SOLOMON, Baker, Espero, Kouchi, Nishihara, Shimabukuro, Wakai
Measure Title: RELATING TO HAWAII COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY.
Report Title: Hawaii Community Development Authority; Residential Development
Description: Authorizes residential development on certain specified parcels of land owned by the office of Hawaiian affairs in Kakaako. Requires applicants for residential development to hold a public hearing regarding a plan or proposal for residential development in Kakaako and consider all written and oral submissions from the hearing prior to submitting the plan or proposal to HCDA for approval. Requires HCDA to hold a public hearing and fully consider all written and oral submissions received at the hearings held by the applicant and the HCDA prior to approving any plan or proposal for residential development. Establishes a Kakaako makai association fee and Kakaako makai special account to fund various public services and projects in Kakaako. Exempts the Office of Hawaiian Affairs from section 206E-12, HRS, regarding the dedication of public facilities by developers as a condition of development in Kakaako. 

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell on a Rampage

Woman Criticizes Honolulu’s Government, Has Her Protest Signs Bulldozed

Nick SibillaNick Sibilla, Contributor   

How people respond to criticism can reveal a lot about their character.  Some might try to debate or reason with those they disagree with.  Others prefer to ignore critics.  City officials in Honolulu take a different approach: They use a bulldozer.

Choon James is a successful real estate broker with over two decades of experience in Hawaii.  But the city of Honolulu is seeking to seize property she’s owned for almost a decade to build what she calls a “super-sized” fire station in rural Hauula.

Since January 2010, she has put up signs to protest Honolulu’s use of eminent domain.  These signs declare “Eminent Domain Abuse: Who’s Next?” and “YouTube Eminent Domain Abuse—Hawaii.”  For more than three years these signs have been up without any incident.

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But now the city is showing a callous disregard for Choon’s freedom of speech.  Back in May, Honolulu seized two of her eminent domain protest signs.  Without her consent, city employees went onto the property and seized and impounded her signs before damaging them. Even worse, the city slapped her with a notice for trespassing, for property she is trying to defend in court.

After these signs were torn down, Choon placed three more signs there.  These lasted just a few months before the city once again seized the signs.  This time, Honolulu was much more dramatic.  On October 18, city workers, backed by police officers, squad cars and a bulldozer, came by and literally bulldozed those protest signs.

The city’s actions show a shameful lack of respect for the First and Fourth Amendments.  Citizens have a right to protest government actions.  The First Amendment was enacted precisely to protect citizens who criticize the government from retaliation.  Lawsuits challenging Honolulu’s unreasonable seizures and chilling attacks on free speech are now pending in federal court.

Unfortunately, Honolulu is not alone in trying to silence critics who question eminent domain.  The Institute for Justice has represented citizens in St. Louis, Mo., Norfolk, Va., Tennessee, and Texas who protested abusive property seizures and faced censorship.  Out of these four cases, IJ successfully defended free speech in three cases, while the fourth is currently in litigation.

After 24 of his buildings were taken by St. Louis, Jim Roos painted a giant mural on a building he owned advocating “End Eminent Domain Abuse.”  But St. Louis labeled the mural an “illegal sign” and wanted to force Jim to remove the sign (and stifle his right to protest) or face code violations.  He teamed up with the Institute for Justice and sued the city.  In a major win for the First Amendment, in July 2011, the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Jim and allowed the mural to stay up.

In a similar vein, IJ has defended grassroots activists from a frivolous defamation lawsuit and protected an investigative journalist’s right to free speech from a vindictive private developer.

More recently, the Institute for Justice is suing the city of Norfolk for trying to squash a small business owner’s eminent domain protest sign.  The Central Radio Company, a repair shop, has been in Norfolk for almost eight decades.  But Norfolk had plans to seize the property with eminent domain for a private redevelopment project.

To protest, owner Bob Wilson displayed a huge banner on-site.  The city responded by telling Bob he had to take down the sign or face fines of up to $1,000 per day.  Fortunately, the Virginia Supreme Court unanimously struck down the city’s attempt to seize Bob’s land; his free speech case is still infederal court.

As the cases make clear, courts routinely respect Americans’ First Amendment rights.  Honolulu should do the same.

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Postscript: Mayor Kirk Caldwell also shut down the owner’s business with Reynolds Recycling on October 21, 2013. Public push back forced the Mayor to cut a deal with Reynolds to return to the adjacent city Lot 64 on December 20, 2013. The Caldwell Administration did not disclose that it is on a month-to-month lease. Should the Mayor gets permission from the courts to condemn, the last two commercial zone lots will be decimated and recycling business  gone.
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The only valid reason for Mayor Kirk Caldwell to shove this extra expensive fire station onto this small rural community is he owes a plum building contract to a donor!  The Mayor  wants to build a huge Kapolei City station in the small rural town of Hauula.
The Mayor can be contacted at mayor@honolulu.gov    808 768-4141
City Council Chair Ernie Martin  at emartin@honolulu.gov   808 768-5002
Choon James at ChoonJamesHawaii@gmail.com   808 293 9111