Laie Point Cliff Collapse – Erosion or Set back Violations?

 

On October 1, 2018 a neighbor was walking along Clissolds Beach aka Bikini Beach in Laie, Oahu and noticed huge quantities of fresh naupaka foliage with its roots washed up along the shores. She did not see this the day before. It was estimated that this cliff collapse at 55-064 Naupaka Street, Laie, Hawaii 96762 happened in the early morning of October 1, 2018.

I live next door to this property. My house is the one on the right. We built this home with our mason friend, Waha Elkington and other construction friends about 25 years ago.

Around 2008, our good neighbor at 55-064 Naupaka St. ( adjacent ocean house with safety netting) passed away. Her husband later sold the property to the current owner from California. This property turned into an Airbnb vacation rental even though the owner live in California. Many illegal vacation rental impacts problems ensued.

We also could hear jack-hammering. Sometimes I would hear jack-hammering in the night in the dark but it would stop after I turned on our deck porch lights. These hammering and chipping and terracing into the shoreline set back have been going on around 2012 despite the operators’ denial. I could hear them and also felt the vibrations.

As recently as last month, a local fisherman attested to these hammering activities in facebook comments. The local fisherman also commented he was told he was not allowed to fish from the cliff ledge, which was inaccurate.

Another local fisherman commented he could no longer fish there because of the cliff collapse. His fishing spot has disappeared. There was a foot path along the cliff ledge  where local fishermen used.

Airbnb Guest reviews in 2013 also reveal the “carving” into the 40 feet setback on the cliff for a hot tub and other amenities.

Photos of the vacation rental website, taken down as of October 13, 2018, also showed the encroachments and placement of amenities into the 40 feet shoreline setback.

Through the years, the operators of this illegal vacation rental have encroached and violated Hawaii’s 40 feet shoreline setback.  A hot tub was moved closer to ocean on carved terrace. A fire pit was added on and so forth to provide more amenities to the vacation rental guests. Through the years, the encroachments into the 40-feet shoreline set back creep closer and closer to the edge of the cliff.

I emailed the property owner who lives at Dana Point, California about this cliff collapse on October 1, 2018. His response was that it was an “erosion”.  He said to contact his property manager, a BYU-Hawaii Professor of Psychology, also claimed “erosion” and he was in no way responsible for the cliff collapse.  Their seven Airbnb online websites in Laie have been discontinued as of October 14, 2018.

As of October 15, 2018, the  Honolulu City and County Department of Planning and Permitting has issued a NOTICE OF VIOLATION to the owners in California – “Development work within the 40-ft shoreline setback, but not limited to, including a CMU fish pond, hot tub, and a circular stone fire pit-type structure are to be removed and so forth.

The Notice of Violation also stated for owners to “Restore the area immediately . . .”

How does one restore the irreparable carved out ledge and portions of the collapsed cliff?

What is the relevance of the 40-feet shoreline set back in Hawaii?

What do you think?  Is it Erosion or  did shoreline set back violations through years of jack hammering and terracing  to get closer and closer to the waters contributed to the cliff collapse?

 

 

 

#CON AM: Not all ‘investment real property’ owners are wealthy

EDITORIALISLAND VOICES

Column: Not all ‘investment real property’ owners are wealthy

  • An investor landlord incurs many expenses, including monthly mortgage payments, flood, hurricane, fire and liability insurances, maintenance/repair costs, appliance replacements, and utilities.

“Shall the legislature be authorized to establish, as provided by law, a surcharge on investment real property to be used to support public education?”

Voters will have the opportunity to vote on that proposed constitutional amendment this November. Unfortunately, this open-ended language provides unfettered taxing powers to the state on ambiguous “investment” real property.

Up to now, only counties are authorized powers to collect real property taxes.

Even then, it’s a fallacy that every investment property owner is wealthy and thus, low-hanging fruit for taxation.

Many “investors” are self-employed residents. They lead frugal lives and sacrifice in order to purchase an investment property. They have mortgages with monthly payments. They doggedly work on their fixer-uppers. While others take vacations to Las Vegas, they are home fixing or improving.

Their investment property is their retirement benefit. And let’s not forget, the benchmark used by Honolulu County for double tax on investment or Residential “A” is $1 million (an amount easily reached).

Since this constitutional amendment is a Hawaii State Teachers Association initiative, let’s use a public school teacher as example: Teachers have a guaranteed monthly salary, including a long summer, spring, Christmas and holiday breaks. Teachers generally get annually 18 days of paid sick leave that can be accumulated throughout their tenure. Each school year has 189 curriculum days. Teachers generally receive 80/20 EUTF medical benefits. At retirement, teachers could receive a $1,000 monthly pension, more or less, depending on the rate of pay and length of service.

On the other hand, an independent or retired property “investor” has no guaranteed fixed income, and no benefits like medical, pension or holidays.

In fact, the demands on an investor landlord are 24/7/365. The alternative is to hire a property manager who charges 12 percent of gross rental income.

An investor landlord incurs many expenses, including monthly mortgage payments, flood, hurricane, fire and liability insurances, maintenance/repair costs, appliance replacements, and utilities. Expenses can often include absorbing unpaid rents, legal fees to evict delinquent tenants, or costs for property damages.

Allow me to highlight just three categories of “investors” to present another perspective to this taxation issue. Not every investor is wealthy; many are trying to survive, just like our teachers:

>> Investor A is retired and depends on his second home income to help him and his wife in their retirement years. Both their million-dollar homes (on paper) need repairs and maintenance that they cannot afford right now. If they had to be in a care home, they’re hoping that the rental income could help. Currently, they’re barely making ends meet and worry about being priced out of house and home with increasing fees and taxes.

>> Investor B is now working on the mainland. He cannot find a comparable job in his field here. They want to come home eventually but they can’t afford to, yet. They’re renting their mortgaged home to a local family long-term. Their shack is now over the $1 million valuation, triggering increased “Residential A” taxes. They reluctantly will have to raise rents soon.

>> Investor C is a self-employed young man with construction skills. He maintains a million-dollar (on paper) second home that he fixes up through sweat equity. He depends on this rental income to pay his two mortgages, support himself and his growing family. They have no other income or benefits like medical or pensions for themselves and their children.

Most Hawaii’s residents, including such investors, are trying to make ends meet. Can we see strict fiscal discipline and tightening of waste and spending in our government before more taxes are imposed? Otherwise, more locals will be priced out of Hawaii.

Column: Not all ‘investment real property’ owners are wealthy

 

 


Choon James has been a real estate broker for 30 years and is a long-time community advocate.

Choon James: Open Letter to Chair Ernie Martin & Honolulu City Council – Bill 1

AN OPEN LETTER TO THE HONOLULU CITY COUNCIL  

Aloha Honorable Chair City Council Ernie Martin (District 2), Ikaika Anderson, Carol Fukunaga, Ron Menor, Kymberly Pine, Brandon Elefante, Ann Kobayashi, Trevor Ozawa, and Joey Manahan.

During the Primary Elections campaign for your seat, ALL four candidates – Robert Bobby Bunda, Dave Burlew, Choon James, Heidi Tsuneyoshi have publicly stated that they are for agricultural lands preservation. Particularly, at the Hauula Candidates Forum and the Kahuku Candidates Forum, the question was asked directly about Bill 1. ALL candidates stated that they were against the alleged 200 homes proposed on so-called “North Laie”. They were against expanding the community growth boundaries between Laie and Malaekahana, a subdistrict of Kahuku. Unless the candidates are lying to get votes, this reflects each candidate’s position.

Additionally, the most robust indication of the general population’s sentiments can be found in Senator Gil Riviere’s position on Bill 1 ( aka Bill 47 or Bill 53). Senator Riviere has consistently testified in person at City Council hearings in support of Bill 1 aka Bill 47 and aka Bill 53, without further amendments to expand the boundary growth into the agricultural Malaekahana area. Senator Riviere has been clear and precise. There is no ambiguity in his actions or words through the years as the Senator for this district. He most recently received a strong 67% of the public vote on August 11, 2018. This reflects a mandate from the people of this area.

During the past two short months that I myself have campaigned for your City Council seat for District 2, I received the same feedback from our residents.

While I could not quickly share the record of my decades old advocacy and civic activism to  garner enough votes in Wahiawa and Mililani Mauka this primary elections, I have again received the confirmation that our residents in District 2 and all over Oahu want to KEEP THE COUNTRY COUNTRY! And it’s not because they are against housing.

They do not want to see the entire island of Oahu paved over and turned into a parking lot. The other issue that is consistently brought up is the costs of living and traffic. Your residents are fed-up and up-in- arms about the Laniakea traffic that destroys their quality of life with daily frustrations and angst of traffic jam. Residents are fed-up with having to work two or three jobs to keep up with the rising fees, taxes and other costs.

From Kahalu’u to Hale’iwa, our small communities are connected by the 100 year old 2 lane Kamehameha Hwy. They are angry that the politicians who supposedly represent them are not considering the carrying capacity of infrastructures in our rural communities and yet continue to lure more and more tourists into the area. They are not happy that farm lands are disappearing and displaced with homes that they cannot afford. No one is against housing but most are leery of gentrification where the most affluent will chase the less affluent out of this region.

As you know, the Ko’olauloa Sustainable Communities Plan has been in limbo as Bill 47, Bill 53 and Bill 1 for the nearly past eight (8) years that you have been in office.

Many of us find it highly unfair and unethical for you, as it appears, to now want to push this Bill 1 through at the very last few months of your tenure as the City Council man for this district.

This Ko’olauloa Sustainable Communities Plan has been in limbo for nearly 8 years; what’s the problem with waiting for a few more months for the new city council member to more fully address it. After all, your staff, Heidi Tsuneyoshi, city council member-elect, has publicly stated her position AGAINST it at various public forums during the campaign.

I submit that there are more questions than answers to the latest Hawaii Reserves, Inc  (HRI) proposal in Bill 1. It has not been veted by the community of Laie or at large. Residents-at-large are opposed to sacrificing their quality of life to appease the economic goals of HRI. This include many residents of Laie.  If I were the council member-elect, I would engage directly with the residents first, without HRI or its staunch supporter LCA, present.

Laie residents have relevant questions like whether it’s fee simple or leasehold, rental or outright ownership?

Who will be eligible for these homes? Laie or Ko’olauloa region?

What is the price?

What are the terms and conditions?

Is there a buyback clause?

Is there a surrender clause?

What other developments and amenities are in the works not yet revealed and so forth.

Because Mr. Eric Beaver of HRI refused to provide pertinent specifics in writing, who is to say that “affordable housing” could not be cancelled again in the future? It happened in 2008 after HRI raised the hopes and dreams of Laie residents for decades:

“Feasibility estimates pose an unacceptable risk at this time,” Beaver said in the statement. “Cost of the entitlement process, current market and political conditions, moderate community support, and other nearby residential development plans were key factors in our decision to stop the project.

Beaver told The Advertiser yesterday that a combination of factors would have resulted in homes that would cost more than the citizens who were to benefit from it could pay.”

As a matter of public policy, BIll 1 cannot be solely for Envision Laie. Laie is not an island. It has to be ENVISION KO’OLAULOA or even ENVISION NORTH SHORE because Hale’iwa, Pupukea, Sunset Beach, Kahuku, Lai’e, Hau’ula, Punalu’u, Kahana, Ka’a’awa, Kualoa, Wai’ahole, and Kahalu’u are all connected by the same arterial 100-year-old 2-lane country road named “Kamehameha Highway”. The multiplier impacts of this public policy that contradict the existing Oahu General Plan and the Ko’olauloa Sustainable Communities Plan are severe and significant.

Furthermore, may I respectfully urge you to leave a wonderful legacy of protecting the welfare and happiness of our Residents First. My campaign platform of placing a cap on property taxes for local residents who have lived in their homes for 15 years or more is urgently needed. Our senior residents who live on fixed income and social security are afraid of being priced out of house and home. They want to be able to pass on their generational home to their children. This can be done if there is political will. California had their Proposition 13 in 1978. What are we waiting for?

During the course of the campaign, your staff  and candidate Heidi Tsuneyoshi also quickly adopted my idea. I consider imitation as the best form of flattery.  Certainly, there must be consensus and recognition at this point in time that this is a much-needed action to take to protect our residents. I would be most happy to work with you and all our city council members to begin this process.

I sincerely wish you well in your future endeavors and compliment you for running for the highly-contested race for House of Congress. Please adopt Bill 1 as originally proposed by City Councilman Ikaika Anderson on January 2017 or defer Bill 1 to 2019 for the new city councilwoman-elect Heidi Tsuneyoshi who has stated her opposition to this recent new amendment on her campaign trail.

Mahalo!

Choon James

ChoonJames Hawaii@gmail.com

Choon James has been a successful small businesswoman for 30 years. She’s happily married to her PhD husband for 40 years and mother of four Eagle Scouts and one princess. She has been a long-time community advocate for good government and private property rights. She has also been an activist for Environmental, Social, and Economic Justice. She also works on their family organic farm. She self-financed her recent City Council campaign with no funds from lobbyists or corporations.

 

Choon James: The Alternative to Status Quo

Name on ballot: JAMES, Choon
Running for: Honolulu City Council
District (if applicable):District 2
Political party: Nonpartisan
Campaign website: www.VoteChoon.com
Current occupation: Real Estate Broker
Age: 61
Previous job history: College Instructor
Previous elected office, if any: Community Associations

Community organizations/prior offices held

Chair, Defend Oahu Coalition – Keep The Country Country; president, BYU-Hawaii Alumni Association; president, Laie Point Community Association; board member, Laie Community Association; founding member, Kahuku Hospital Board, Save Oahu Farmlands Alliance; member, Honolulu Board of Realtors; producer, Olelo Community Media; member, Hawaii Thousand Friends; member, Sierra Club; member, Ko’olauloa Sustainable Communities Advisory Planning Committee; member, Amnesty International; member, Friends of South Pass City; member, Relief Society Women’s Organization; merit badge counselor, Aloha Council BSA.

Is there anything else you would like voters to know about you?

I’m a citizen candidate. I do not accept donations from lobbyists or corporations. I owe nobody favors or fear except to work with you residents to improve some basic challenges facing us.

I have severe concerns about the direction that Honolulu is heading. We cannot continue to fund the runaway Honolulu Rail without firm fiscal scrutiny and accountability. I’m volunteering myself as an able and trained alternative to “business as usual” politics.

You can rely on my decades-old record of activism and advocacy. I have been consistent. I maintain a world-view outlook. But I also recognize that we live on a small island.

Additionally, my profession as a real estate broker allows me to work with people from all walks of life and status. We treat every client with care and respect. Should there be a challenge, we quickly and methodically address them with all parties and professionals concerned and find solutions to the benefit of all.

I have great confidence we can tackle Oahu’s challenges together! It doesn’t matter if we’re young or old, rich or poor, Democrat or Republican, military or civilian, unionized or not – – we all have the same dreams for ourselves and our children. We can be fair and reasonable in decision-making; we can all win! There are solutions to the challenges on our island home.

You the residents have valuable local knowledge and wisdom to share. Many of us also have international experience, professionally combed the world, and gained insights and expertise. Collectively, we can improve our island home! Let’s put YOUR smarts, imagination, expertise, common sense, and aloha together to improve our lives and communities.

Let’s gang up for the public good! I humbly ask for YOUR vote.

Choon James

808 293 8888 text

ChoonJamesHawaii@gmail.com

www.VoteChoon.com

www.CountryTalkStory.com

Choon James: Citizen Candidate For Honolulu City Council

Name on ballot: JAMES, Choon
Running for: Honolulu City Council
District (if applicable):District 2
Political party: Nonpartisan
Campaign website: www.VoteChoon.com
Current occupation: Real Estate Broker
Age: 61
Previous job history: College Instructor
Previous elected office, if any: Community Associations.

Community organizations/prior offices held

Chair, Defend Oahu Coalition – Keep The Country Country; president, BYU-Hawaii Alumni Association; president, Laie Point Community Association; board member, Laie Community Association; founding member, Kahuku Hospital Board, Save Oahu Farmlands Alliance; member, Honolulu Board of Realtors; producer, Olelo Community Media; member, Hawaii Thousand Friends; member, Sierra Club; member, Ko’olauloa Sustainable Communities Advisory Planning Committee; member, Amnesty International; member, Friends of South Pass City; member, Relief Society Women’s Organization; merit badge counselor, Aloha Council BSA.

Is there anything else you would like voters to know about you?

I’m a citizen candidate. I do not accept donations from lobbyists or corporations. I owe nobody favors or fear except to work with you residents to improve some basic challenges facing us.

I have severe concerns about the direction that Honolulu is heading. We cannot continue to fund the runaway Honolulu Rail without firm fiscal scrutiny and accountability. I’m volunteering myself as an able and trained alternative to “business as usual” politics.

You can rely on my decades-old record of activism and advocacy. I have been consistent. I maintain a world-view outlook. But I also recognize that we live on a small island.

Additionally, my profession as a real estate broker allows me to work with people from all walks of life and status. We treat every client with care and respect. Should there be a challenge, we quickly and methodically address them with all parties and professionals concerned and find solutions to the benefit of all.

I have great confidence we can tackle Oahu’s challenges together! It doesn’t matter if we’re young or old, rich or poor, Democrat or Republican, military or civilian, unionized or not – – we all have the same dreams for ourselves and our children. We can be fair and reasonable in decision-making; we can all win! There are solutions to the challenges on our island home.

You the residents have valuable local knowledge and wisdom to share. Many of us also have international experience, professionally combed the world, and gained insights and expertise. Collectively, we can improve our island home! Let’s put YOUR smarts, imagination, expertise, common sense, and aloha together to improve our lives and communities.

Let’s gang up for the public good! I humbly ask for YOUR vote.

Choon James

808 293 8888 text

ChoonJamesHawaii@gmail.com

www.VoteChoon.com

www.CountryTalkStory.com

Choon James: Alternative to Status Quo

Name on ballot: JAMES, Choon
Running for: Honolulu City Council
District (if applicable):District 2
Political party: Nonpartisan
Campaign website: www.VoteChoon.com
Current occupation: Real Estate Broker
Age: 61
Previous job history: College Instructor
Previous elected office, if any: Community Associations

Community organizations/prior offices held

Chair, Defend Oahu Coalition – Keep The Country Country; president, BYU-Hawaii Alumni Association; president, Laie Point Community Association; board member, Laie Community Association; founding member, Kahuku Hospital Board, Save Oahu Farmlands Alliance; member, Honolulu Board of Realtors; producer, Olelo Community Media; member, Hawaii Thousand Friends; member, Sierra Club; member, Ko’olauloa Sustainable Communities Advisory Planning Committee; member, Amnesty International; member, Friends of South Pass City; member, Relief Society Women’s Organization; merit badge counselor, Aloha Council BSA.
What are the top three challenges facing the voters you seek to represent?

District 2 is the most diversified and largest land area in the City Council. We span rural communities from Kahalu’u to Wahiawa to an award-winning planned community in Mililani Mauka. We have wonderful residents!

1. Costs of Living & Housing – Hawaii is such a beautiful place with a stable political environment that does not discriminate real estate ownership; our local residents have to compete with international investors for real estate holdings. Increased property values and property taxes outpace many residents’ fixed social security and income. Our residents are feeling priced out on so many different levels.

Many work 2-3 jobs to make ends meet and sustain themselves. Our young people have to resort to exchange babysitting in parking lots on the way to work! Kupuna are worried about sustaining themselves in their golden years and passing on the family home to their children.

Most of us work very hard to make a living.

The government must deliberate carefully before imposing escalating fees and taxes on our people. Residents are not eternal money trees.

2. Quality of Life Ko’olauloa and North Shore is the Oahu’s golden goose for tourism. While residents are welcoming, the quality of life must be considered. Residents are overwhelmed by the increased amount of tourists. Tourism’ multiplier impacts on our infrastructure and public space are real. Traffic is a constant aggravation. The one hundred- year-old Kamehameha Highway, parks, other finite natural resources and other municipal services have to be considered into policy-making and deliberations .

3. Economic Opportunities This cash economy is leaving many of our residents behind. Homelessness is on the rise in our District. We have homeless camping in the streets, mountains, and other public places. This is not good for them and not good for the public. The world is changing. Jobs that are here today will not be here tomorrow.

Fortunately, we have very successful residents who are willing to help and share. As a city councilwoman for my District, I will also focus on this area – to help our residents explore start-ups, resources, education and options to lift ourselves and our families to the countless opportunities out there for economic gain.

 

Let’s gang up for the public good! I humbly ask for YOUR vote.

Choon James

808 293 8888 text

ChoonJamesHawaii@gmail.com

www.VoteChoon.com

www.CountryTalkStory.com

Choon James: Cap on Property Taxes For Local Residents

Name on ballot: JAMES, Choon
Running for: Honolulu City Council
District (if applicable):District 2
Political party: Nonpartisan
Campaign website: www.VoteChoon.com
Current occupation: Real Estate Broker
Age: 61
Previous job history: College Instructor
Previous elected office, if any: Community Associations

Community organizations/prior offices held

Chair, Defend Oahu Coalition – Keep The Country Country; president, BYU-Hawaii Alumni Association; president, Laie Point Community Association; board member, Laie Community Association; founding member, Kahuku Hospital Board, Save Oahu Farmlands Alliance; member, Honolulu Board of Realtors; producer, Olelo Community Media; member, Hawaii Thousand Friends; member, Sierra Club; member, Ko’olauloa Sustainable Communities Advisory Planning Committee; member, Amnesty International; member, Friends of South Pass City; member, Relief Society Women’s Organization; merit badge counselor, Aloha Council BSA.
If elected, what will be your highest legislative priority?
Many residents have several jobs to keep themselves afloat. Our seniors have to postpone retirement. Kupuna are worried about being priced out of house and home and not being able to pass the family inheritance on to the next generation. Our residents worry when the government is going to slam them with more taxes and fees!

We must protect our home front first! I want to champion and work with the other 8 council members to

~ ~ provide a property tax cap for local homeowners who have lived in their homes for 15 years or more. ( California did Prop 13 in 1978!)

~~ provide incentives to property owners who rent long-term to long term residents.

~~ Focus on increasing truly affordable rentals/homes inventory These foundation improvements will help mitigate some of the challenges we face in Oahu today. It will also protect our residents’ ability to remain in our island home and not be priced out.

 

Let’s gang up for the public good! I humbly ask for YOUR vote.

Choon James

808 293 8888 text

ChoonJamesHawaii@gmail.com

www.VoteChoon.com

www.CountryTalkStory.com

Choon James: Trained Alternative to “Politics As Usual”

Name on ballot: JAMES, Choon
Running for: Honolulu City Council
District (if applicable):District 2
Political party: Nonpartisan
Campaign website: www.VoteChoon.com
Current occupation: Real Estate Broker
Age: 61
Previous job history: College Instructor
Previous elected office, if any: Community Associations
What qualifies you to represent the people of Hawaii?

I’m a CITIZEN CANDIDATE, not a career politician or a career bureaucrat, like some candidates. I’ve been a successful small businesswoman for 30 years.

Status Quo has not served us well. I want to positively improve Oahu for my children and your children. I

do not accept donations from special interests so I’m not beholden to do their bidding or owe any favors. I’ve mostly paid for this campaign on my own. I’ve been happily involved in civic and public affairs for decades with no compensation expected.

I have been an environmental, social and economic justice advocate and activist at City Hall with land use issues such as “Keep The Country Country”, preserving farmlands, food sustainability, open space, preserving parks, capital spending issues and others.

For the past 10 years, I’ve personally been involved in budgeting process and workings of Honolulu Hale. I’ve grown older and impatient and wish to make a difference INSIDE City Hall. I don’t have an ego nor am I looking to save my job. I truly believe that a public office is to serve the public good; it’s not a profiteering office.

 

I have severe concerns about the direction that Honolulu is heading. We cannot continue to fund the runaway Honolulu Rail without firm fiscal scrutiny and accountability. I’m volunteering myself as an able and trained alternative to “business as usual” politics.

Let’s gang up for the public good! I humbly ask for YOUR vote.

Choon James

808 293 8888 text

ChoonJamesHawaii@gmail.com

www.VoteChoon.com

www.CountryTalkStory.com

 

Choon James For Honolulu City Council District 2

Name on ballot: JAMES, Choon
Running for: Honolulu City Council
District (if applicable):District 2
Political party: Nonpartisan
Campaign website: www.VoteChoon.com
Current occupation: Real Estate Broker
Age: 61
Previous job history: College Instructor
Previous elected office, if any: Community Associations

Community organizations/prior offices held

Chair, Defend Oahu Coalition – Keep The Country Country; president, BYU-Hawaii Alumni Association; president, Laie Point Community Association; board member, Laie Community Association; founding member, Kahuku Hospital Board, Save Oahu Farmlands Alliance; member, Honolulu Board of Realtors; producer, Olelo Community Media; member, Hawaii Thousand Friends; member, Sierra Club; member, Ko’olauloa Sustainable Communities Advisory Planning Committee; member, Amnesty International; member, Friends of South Pass City; member, Relief Society Women’s Organization; merit badge counselor, Aloha Council BSA.
What qualifies you to represent the people of Hawaii?

I’m a CITIZEN CANDIDATE, not a career politician or a career bureaucrat, like some candidates. I’ve been a successful small businesswoman for 30 years.

Status Quo has not served us well. I want to positively improve Oahu for my children and your children. I

do not accept donations from special interests so I’m not beholden to do their bidding or owe any favors. I’ve mostly paid for this campaign on my own. I’ve been happily involved in civic and public affairs for decades with no compensation expected.

I have been an environmental, social and economic justice advocate and activist at City Hall with land use issues such as “Keep The Country Country”, preserving farmlands, food sustainability, open space, preserving parks, capital spending issues and others.

For the past 10 years, I’ve personally been involved in budgeting process and workings of Honolulu Hale. I’ve grown older and impatient and wish to make a difference INSIDE City Hall. I don’t have an ego nor am I looking to save my job. I truly believe that a public office is to serve the public good; it’s not a profiteering office.

If elected, what will be your highest legislative priority?
Many residents have several jobs to keep themselves afloat. Our seniors have to postpone retirement. Kupuna are worried about being priced out of house and home and not being able to pass the family inheritance on to the next generation. Our residents worry when the government is going to slam them with more taxes and fees!

We must protect our home front first! I want to champion and work with the other 8 council members to

~ ~ provide a property tax cap for local homeowners who have lived in their homes for 15 years or more. ( California did Prop 13 in 1978!)

~~ provide incentives to property owners who rent long-term to long term residents.

~~ Focus on increasing truly affordable rentals/homes inventory These foundation improvements will help mitigate some of the challenges we face in Oahu today. It will also protect our residents’ ability to remain in our island home and not be priced out.

What are the top three challenges facing the voters you seek to represent?

District 2 is the most diversified and largest land area in the City Council. We span rural communities from Kahalu’u to Wahiawa to an award-winning planned community in Mililani Mauka. We have wonderful residents!

1. Costs of Living & Housing – Hawaii is such a beautiful place with a stable political environment that does not discriminate real estate ownership; our local residents have to compete with international investors for real estate holdings. Increased property values and property taxes outpace many residents’ fixed social security and income. Our residents are feeling priced out on so many different levels.

Many work 2-3 jobs to make ends meet and sustain themselves. Our young people have to resort to exchange babysitting in parking lots on the way to work! Kupuna are worried about sustaining themselves in their golden years and passing on the family home to their children.

Most of us work very hard to make a living.

The government must deliberate carefully before imposing escalating fees and taxes on our people. Residents are not eternal money trees.

2. Quality of Life Ko’olauloa and North Shore is the Oahu’s golden goose for tourism. While residents are welcoming, the quality of life must be considered. Residents are overwhelmed by the increased amount of tourists. Tourism’ multiplier impacts on our infrastructure and public space are real. Traffic is a constant aggravation. The one hundred- year-old Kamehameha Highway, parks, other finite natural resources and other municipal services have to be considered into policy-making and deliberations .

3. Economic Opportunities This cash economy is leaving many of our residents behind. Homelessness is on the rise in our District. We have homeless camping in the streets, mountains, and other public places. This is not good for them and not good for the public. The world is changing. Jobs that are here today will not be here tomorrow.

Fortunately, we have very successful residents who are willing to help and share. As a city councilwoman for my District, I will also focus on this area – to help our residents explore start-ups, resources, education and options to lift ourselves and our families to the countless opportunities out there for economic gain.

If elected, what can you do to improve the lives of your constituents?

Our residents are working very hard to make a living and sustaining themselves. I truly believe government is for betterment of the happiness, welfare and prosperity of our people.

1. Thus, I will be very firm and cognizant in fiscal decision-making. Is the spending good for the residents? Are local residents the primary beneficiaries? Is it absolutely necessary?

2. We also need to maintain clean, safe, and efficient core municipal services for our communities.

3. I will become your good friend. I will visit you in YOUR neighborhood and work with you.

4. We MUST protect our residents FIRST. They are the major stakeholders in Oahu. The Honolulu City Council has tremendous leverage and oversight to mitigate development agendas for Oahu.

5. We must have an over-arching understanding of what we wish Oahu to become. We must base our decision-making consistent with the Oahu General Plan (and Hawaii 2050), which offers objectives and policy guidelines for Population, Economic, Social, Cultural and Recreation, Tourism, Natural Environment, Transportation, Energy, Public Safety, Health & Education, Government Operations and Fiscal management to sustain and maintain our island home.

Is there anything else you would like voters to know about you?

I’m a citizen candidate. I do not accept donations from lobbyists or corporations. I owe nobody favors or fear except to work with you residents to improve some basic challenges facing us.

I have severe concerns about the direction that Honolulu is heading. We cannot continue to fund the runaway Honolulu Rail without firm fiscal scrutiny and accountability. I’m volunteering myself as an able and trained alternative to “business as usual” politics.

You can rely on my decades-old record of activism and advocacy. I have been consistent. I maintain a world-view outlook. But I also recognize that we live on a small island.

Additionally, my profession as a real estate broker allows me to work with people from all walks of life and status. We treat every client with care and respect. Should there be a challenge, we quickly and methodically address them with all parties and professionals concerned and find solutions to the benefit of all.

I have great confidence we can tackle Oahu’s challenges together! It doesn’t matter if we’re young or old, rich or poor, Democrat or Republican, military or civilian, unionized or not – – we all have the same dreams for ourselves and our children. We can be fair and reasonable in decision-making; we can all win! There are solutions to the challenges on our island home.

You the residents have valuable local knowledge and wisdom to share. Many of us also have international experience, professionally combed the world, and gained insights and expertise. Collectively, we can improve our island home! Let’s put YOUR smarts, imagination, expertise, common sense, and aloha together to improve our lives and communities.

Let’s gang up for the public good! I humbly ask for YOUR vote.

Choon James

808 293 8888 text

ChoonJamesHawaii@gmail.com

www.VoteChoon.com

www.CountryTalkStory.com

Choon James: Adding my two cents in Red

Why would anyone want to enter politics in today’s hyper-polarized environment? Seeking public offices to offer solutions and honest service is severely needed in our democracy! Not every one is into that political pool of polarization and name-calling.  Being hyper-polarized is not conducive to our democracy. I’m happy that there are candidates who focus on issues/solutions in a civil and thoughtful manner.

Civil Beat set out to answer that question by interviewing eight candidates who hadn’t run for elected office before this year. They said they were lured by issues like Hawaii’s high cost of living, climate change, a desire for lower taxes and the need for more efficient and transparent government. Yes!

And while those are subjects longtime politicians frequently cite as well, new blood might be the key to actually addressing them, some newcomers say. I submit that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Are you happy with the direction Oahu is heading? Longtime politicians and bureaucrats had their chances, what have they done?

Zachary Stoddard CIty Council candidate 2018 elections stands and waves at Punchbowl and Beretania Street.

Zack Stoddard, a 31-year-old City Council candidate, works as a city planner.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Anti-abortion candidate Andrew Kayes, a nonpartisan candidate for the state House seat that covers the greater Kahului area, decided to pull papers after the Legislature passed a bill to legalize medical aid in dying, which he opposes.

Others say politicians have stopped listening to the constituents who elected them.

“I’ve just been frustrated with politicians and how they don’t seem to really care at all about working-class people,” said Zack Stoddard, a candidate for Honolulu City Council District 6 that stretches from Makiki to Kalihi. “That’s essentially the number one thing I hear from people.”

Stoddard isn’t a total stranger to local politics. Last year he was appointed to the neighborhood board for the Nuuanu and Punchbowl areas. He volunteered to fill a vacancy for the seat that represents his community during the first board meeting he attended.

He decided to run for the City Council after the District 6 incumbent, Carol Fukunaga, killed a bill to ban styrofoam food containers.

Stoddard said he was concerned about the influence of money in politics. He was one of a few new candidates interviewed by Civil Beat who said they are declining donations and paying their own way.

But Tina Wildberger, a progressive socialist Democrat who’s running to represent the state House seat district that covers Kihei to Wailea-Makena, has a different philosophy about campaign finance.

“I feel like if the people that know about me, care about me, and the people in my community don’t want to support my campaign, I don’t have any business being in that office,” she said.

Wildberger, who advocated for environmental issues and managed Kelly King’s successful campaign for a Maui County Council post, said her run was partly inspired by the #MeToo movement, the Parkland, Florida, school shootings and women’s marches.

In a way, Wildberger got in the race by accident. She had approached Rep. Kaniela Ing, a congressional candidate who will soon vacate the district Wildberger is running to represent, to pick his brain. Wildberger was still weighing a run when she got a call from a reporter who said Ing had endorsed her.

“If we were not experiencing the systematic dismantling of our democratic and environmental protections and protections against women … I don’t know that I would’ve been motivated this much to run,” she said.

Fresh Faces

Some other first-time candidates got into their races without any political experience.

Kelly Kitashima, a candidate running to represent Honolulu City Council District 8 that spans Aiea, Pearl City and Waipahu, became politically engaged when she was promoted to higher management at the hotel where she worked. She opposed efforts to increase taxes on the state’s tourism industry and began submitting testimony to officials.

Kitashima said she found a council run appealing because the office handles topics such as rail, infrastructure and property taxes — issues that affect people’s everyday lives.

Kitashima, whose kids play sports, was frustrated with the state of local fields.

“I am a mom, and I know it sounds so repetitive, but I’m just deathly afraid that my kids won’t be able to live here,” Kitashima said. “It kind of felt like I had to roll up my sleeves and step up.”

Kitashima, a self-described “local girl,” said she started tuning into politics when Donald Trump became president.

“I definitely would say I became a little bit more vigilant that year,” she said, adding there was “more media coverage around politics that you couldn’t ignore.”

Kayes, the candidate for Kahului’s House seat, is also new to politics. He said Hawaii’s political atmosphere is an echo chamber for Democrats. The pro-life physician was vehemently opposed to the medical aid in dying law passed by the Legislature last session.

“I felt like our state was better than this, and I was shocked and I pulled papers within a week of that happening,” he said.

Donald Trump’s ‘Silver Lining’

Many new candidates disagree with President Trump’s politics, but said it’s a good thing that more people who aren’t career politicians have started running for office.

“The silver lining of this administration is that he made (running for office) so accessible to the everyday person that we realized we don’t have to have a Harvard law degree to run for office, we need community members,” said Natalia Hussey-Burdick, a Democratic candidate for a House seat in the Kaneohe area.

Hussey-Burdick has quite a bit of political experience for a first-timer — the 28-year-old has served as a community advocate and legislative clerk and held positions in the Democratic Party.

Natalia Hussey-Burdick says she sees another side to politics as a legislative clerk.

A self-described “political nerd,” said she had always felt she was too opinionated and unpolished to run for office.

She changed her mind after attending the Kuleana Academy bootcamp hosted by the nonprofit Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action. It’s free for prospective candidates or their staff members, but attendees who end up running are expected to fundraise and donate $1,000 to HAPA.

State Sens. Laura Thielen, Russell Ruderman and Donna Mercado Kim and Reps. Gene Ward, Andria Tupola, Nicole Lowen and Matt LoPresti spoke at the program Hussey-Burdick attended.

Democratic Party executive director Laura Nevitt told the participants that “women will give themselves 100 reasons why they shouldn’t” run for office. That resonated with Hussey-Burdick.

Choon James, a longtime testifier at the Honolulu City Council and now a candidate to represent District 2 on the North Shore, decided to run because she wasn’t happy with the way the field of candidates was shaping up to replace term-limited Councilman Ernie Martin.  Being involved in civil and public affairs for over 3 decades and testifying at the City Council for the past ten years have taught me me a few things about Honolulu Hale! In fact, the only two city council candidates this election year who have been steadfastly participating at Honolulu Hale are Natalie Iwasa CPA, CFE and I.

It also helped that her kids moved out of the house.  I’m an empty nester. My children are grown and are leading success and happy lives of their own. This allows me the opportunity to be more involved unlike my other friends with children or who have to take care of their parents and so forth.

James has been involved in environmental issues and the North Shore’s push to “Keep the Country Country.” I’ve also been a successful and experienced small businesswoman for 30 years. I’ve been involved in protecting private property right, social, economic and environment justice issues. She supports term limits for elected offices and caps on homeowners’ property taxes if they’ve lived on the property for 15 years.  Our residents have severe concerns of being priced out of house and home. They want to live in their homes in their golden years and they want to pass on the home to their children. California enacted Proposition 13 in 1978. What are we waiting for? I will also work with the other 8 city council members to provide incentives for those who rent long term to local residents. We should also focus on increasing the rental inventory, instead of luxury condos to mitigate our housing problems.

She’s not looking to run again if she loses. I’m offering my candidacy as a Citizen Candidate. I do not accept donations from lobbyists or Corporations. I’m paying my way. I’m not running to protect my job. No one is making me run to become a status quo at the City Council. I’m running because I offer an independent voice for ordinary people. The residents’ happiness, welfare, and prosperity come first. I will put residents FIRST!

“I can say as a citizen candidate I honestly have no fear and I have no favor,” she said. “I’m getting old and I’m getting impatient.” Yes, after decades of being an activist and an advocate in land use, economic, social and environment issues, I have seen first hand the workings of Honolulu Hale. I see  how status quo and the oligarchy continue to make life more miserable for our residents, not better. I’ve seen our residents having to work 2-3 jobs to sustain themselves. I’ve seen how the public treasury has been plundered and causing the costs of living to increase. If you are happy with the direction Honolulu is heading and happy with the escalating costs of living, then I’m NOT your candidate.

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