City seeks member on HCDA board

By Andrew Pereira
Published On: Mar 24 2014 06:36:06 PM HST
Updated On: Mar 24 2014 10:46:14 PM HST

Critics say the Hawaii Community Development Authority is more about "development" and less about "community." KITV4's Andrew Pereira has more on a bill making its way through the legislature in hopes to even the playing field.

HONOLULU -

Some Kakaako residents aren't the only ones crying foul over some of the recent moves by the Hawaii Community Development Authority.

Click here to watch Andrew Pereira's story.

City Councilman Ikaika Anderson and Mayor Kirk Caldwell say it's time for the HCDA board to represent the interests of Honolulu taxpayers by allowing the city's director of Planning and Permitting to have a seat at the table.

State lawmakers are considering a bill that would reshape membership on the HCDA board while providing Kakaako residents a process to appeal decisions. However, the latest version of HB 1866 stripped away any representation from the city and county of Honolulu after reaching the Senate.

"It's a disservice to the people of the City and County of Honolulu and it's time that we get better treatment from our state Legislature," said Anderson.

The Windward Oahu councilman and chairman of the Zoning Committee would like the council to directly appoint three members to the HCDA board while allowing the DPP director to also cast a vote.

The mayor on the other hand would be satisfied with the DPP director sitting on the HCDA board as a none-voting member.

"Having the director of the Department of Planning at least sitting in to weigh and advise is important because at the end of the day, they still have to work the city," said Caldwell. "Doesn't it make sense to have the director who issues all their permits to be around the table hearing what's being discussed?"

At the start of the legislative session in January, House Majority Leader Scott Saiki introduced seven bills seeking HCDA reforms and one seeking the agency's repeal. On Monday he said the city may still get its wish for representation on the HCDA board with the one bill that remains, HB 1866.

"The House is still considering placing the DPP director on the board as a non-voting member," said Saiki. "We're also looking at ways to be more inclusive to include community members."

Kakaako United, which represents about 150 residents concerned about runaway development in the area, supports the effort to add the city's DPP director to the HCDA board, as well as any additional representation.

"We feel that the community should have some voice (and) right now we don't feel we have a representative," said Kakaako United president Sharon Moriwaki. "I think it needs some professional expertise sitting on the board because it really is a city matter."

The current HCDA board is supposed to have nine members, with four of them coming from Gov. Neil Abercrombie's cabinet. The board also features one at-large member, three community members and a cultural specialist, which currently remains vacant. The agency is also charged with guiding development on 3,700 acres of land in the Kalaeloa Community Development District, and is responsible for over 400 acres of meadow lands in He'eia.

"The city does provide infrastructure in these districts and is responsible for managing traffic and other issues like that, so it's important for the city to have a place at the table to consider any ramifications from development," said Saiki.

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