Tag Archives: VoteChoon.com

Choon James: Civil Beat Question – Affordable Housing

  1. Oahu has one of the most expensive housing markets in the country. What specific proposals do you have to make housing more affordable?

 Concentrate on true affordable rentals first.

 However, placing time limits on affordable rentals with developers is kicking the can down the road. Housing affordability will only get worse in time.

 I would check and see how many properties are owned by the city, state and federal and go on from there.

Singapore provided affordable rentals tied to a percentage of the tenants’ income.

 It’s been estimated that it would take a 3.19 fireman, a 3.6 school teacher, or a 5.2 hotel clerk salary to afford a medium priced home in Oahu.

 We don’t just have a housing issue; we have an income issue.  

Choon James: Honolulu Civil Beat Question – City Revenues

5. Does the city need to boost its revenue? If so, how should that be done?

Why do I think of Nobel Prize Economist Milton Friedman who stated that if you put the government in charge of the Sahara Desert, it would run short of sand in five years?

 I’ve been participating in the city budget process for ten years. There are misguided fiscal priorities like the $1.2 Million consultant from NY and $20 Million to upgrade the Ala Moana Park that irritates local residents to no end.

 There are also systematic failures in the budgeting system that limit the Council’s ability to control budget priorities and spending.

 Huge amounts of funds were expended into consultants, planning and design renderings for the Blaisdell Center Master Plan but recently, Mayor Caldwell said he would hold off. So,  are we going to repeat another expensive master plan again down the road?

 One of the best lines I heard was Budget Chair Ann Kobayashi telling HART CEO Dan Grabrauskas that she took risks with her own money, not the taxpayers’.

Our residents work very hard for their money. Our job is not to plunder the city treasury but to protect it.

Choon James: Answer to Civil Beat Questions – Traffic Congestion

  1. Honolulu has some of the worst traffic congestion in the nation. Some see rail as part of the solution. What else should the city do to alleviate congestion?

There have been various suggestions ranging from work schedules amongst civil government workers or UH and public/private schools students, bus rapid transit, telecommuting, and so forth.

 I am no expert in this area. I could list some of the ideas put forth by others but it does not do the city justice.

 What I think would be good is if we offer a substantial cash prize  for a traffic decongestion competition.

 NASA does competitions regularly for solutions.

 We need to be sure to keep the lobbyists, publicists, marketeers, and the good old boys club at bay.

 Allow the independent and fresh minds to have a go at the solutions.

 Then, allow the public to review and opine on the ideas put forth and choose the most viable and effective ones that reflect our island values and sense of place.

 Our residents have valuable local knowledge and wisdom and can contribute to the solutions.

 

 

Choon James: Answer to Civil Beat Questions – Homelessness

  1. A recent survey found that homelessness remains a problem on Oahu. What should be done? Do you support an islandwide sit-lie ban? Why or why not? 

There will always be the poor amongst us in this modern cash economy. There is no one silver bullet to this homeless issue. Some require mental health/ addiction help, but most need rental units. Coordination with state and federal is imperative.

 Singapore efficiently provides affordable public rentals tied to the tenants’ income. We need to concentrate on creating more truly affordable rental units.

 I do not support an island-wide ban.

 Since the first sit-lie bill in 2014 for the Waikiki Special District, I’ve consistently testified at Council hearings that ‘sit-lie” bills must be accompanied with options for those affected.  Pushing the homeless around does not solve the problem.

 Undoubtedly, we must maintain clean, vibrant and safe public spaces for the public and businesses.    

 However, burning personal items into ashes is cruel. Confiscating personal papers and medication is inhumane and creates more complications for the down trodden.

 Over a million dollars were squandered through court settlements and legal fees because the city violated due process in its sit-lie implementations.

 HUD CDBG funds have been diverted from non-profits and homeless shelters for pork and pay-to-play projects.

Tents line both sides of Olomehani Street in Kakaako near the Ohe Street intersection. 30dec2014 photograph Cory Lum/Civil Beat

 

 

Choon James: Answers to Civil Beat Questions

                                                      CIVIL BEAT QUESTIONS

1. How do you think the city should pay for the operation and maintenance of rail once it’s built?

Shouldn’t this O & M costs be addressed at the initial stages?

This flawed Rail project began with Parsons Brinckerhoff (PB) executive Wayne Yoshioka being appointed by Mayor Mufi Hannemann as City Transportation Director.

City then contracted with PB to design the rail route. City then hired InfraConsult LLC to coordinate with PB. (Three PB principals formed InfraConsult prior to the City’s contract).

HART, the semi-autonomous transit authority, was formed with nine appointed directors with no transit background. (Mr. Robert Bunda, fellow candidate, joined the HART Board in 2013.)

The 2012 federal Porter Report stated that Oahu had the ability to pay for its rail project, but must forgo other expenses!

 HART recently shifted this unknown O &M duty to the City Transportation but retained the lucrative Transit Orient Development (TOD).

Earlier, Mayor Caldwell and HART disputed city council’s jurisdiction over HART fiscal decisions. Today, Caldwell and HART want the council to sell $44M bonds to appease the FTA!

 Experts have questioned the ridership estimate of 119,600 trips per day. It’s nearly twice the ridership per kilometer of Miami’s heavy rail – a metropolitan area five times the size of Honolulu.

This ridership estimate is also little higher than Atlanta’s with a population six times the size of Honolulu, according to Erick Guerra, assistant professor of city and regional planning at the University of Pennsylvania.

The Tren Urbano in San Juan, Puerto Rico achieved only 23% of its ridership projection. Rail bonds contributed to its accumulated $74 Billion bankruptcy.

When will the oligarchy stop this fiscal insanity and reassess this runaway project?

Choon James: Robert “Bobby” Bunda and I Meet Again!

Choon James: City Council Candidate Robert Bunda Served on  PLDC and Honolulu Rail Board

City Council Candidate Robert Bobby Bunda and I are on the opposite ends of many public policies.  Mr. Bobby Bunda was on the PLDC Board and we were challenging him.

The PLDC  – Public Land Development Corporation – was a moment in time when all of the Hawaiian Islands combined to repeal Act 55.  PLDC caused so much anger amongst the residents. The name itself was an oxymoron.  PRIVATE developers should not be given unfettered access and authority to use PUBLIC lands.

People Power from all the islands of Hawaii ganged up and repealed the bad action in 2012.

Mr. Bunda was also on the Honolulu Rail HART Board. He recently resigned from the Honolulu Rail HART ( Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transit) Board. Honolulu Rail issue is another concern that we citizens tried very hard to insert some sanity into the fiscal process.

Choon James is shown here at the State Legislature trying to prove a point – Don’t keep throwing good money into the fiscal black hole. The state Senate Ways and Means Committee narrowly voted to advance the $2.37 billion  bail out for the city’s financially troubled rail project on August 28, 2017.

Choon James -Honolulu City Council District 2

 

                     RESIDENTS FIRST!

Choon James For Honolulu City Council District 2

Aloha! 

I’ve been involved in city affairs as an activist and advocate for decades.  I’ve grown older and impatient! I would like the opportunity to make a difference in  the lives of our residents INSIDE city hall.

I truly believe the government exists to improve the life and happiness of its citizens. I want to put residents FIRST! You are the major  stakeholder.

So many of our residents face economic and social pressures.  Many of our residents have to carry 2 or 3 jobs to survive. Our kama’aina  folks worry about escalating costs of living and being priced out of Hawaii. 

One fundamental issue I want to champion and work with the other eight council members is to provide a property tax cap for local homeowners who have lived in their homes for more than 15 years and to provide incentives to property owners who rent long-term to long term residents. (This is not out of the blue. Case in Point – The city has provided property tax relief where developers only paid $300 per year instead of  about $160,000 .00 per year for property taxes. )

Of course, there are other issues like traffic, tourism impacts, infrastructure, homelessness, jobs creation and business opportunities, oligarchy, gentrification,  Aloha Disconnect, parks and resources, retirement, families in distress, carrying capacity, crime, drug addiction and so forth. Jobs that are here today may be obsolete tomorrow.

There are solutions to the challenges on  our island home.  You the residents have valuable local knowledge and wisdom to share.   Many of you  have have international  experience, professionally combed the world,  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.  WE can all win!

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

                      Mahalo, Choon

Mililani MaukaWahiawā, Schofield, Whitmore VillageMokulēʻiaWaialua,
HaleʻiwaWaimeaPūpūkeaSunset BeachKahukuʻieHauʻula,PunaluʻuKahana BayKaʻaʻawaKualoaWaiāholeKahaluʻu