House Committee advances bills to restrict HCDA control

By Catherine Cruz
Published On: Feb 11 2014 06:28:17 PM HST
Updated On: Feb 11 2014 08:22:41 PM HST

The push back of rapid development in Kaka'ako has brought out calls for extreme action. Lawmakers killed the most draconian bills to reign in the Hawaii Community Development Authority (HCDA).


The fast-changing Kakaako skyline is what has alarmed area residents.

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Eva Gallegos who works as a nurse at a nearby hospital worries about the impact of high density growth.

"When you bring another 30 thousand people to the area at the front step of a level 2 trauma center, yes, it does create wonderful business, but what kind of care are they going to get. Are they going to be able to get into the front door of the emergency room or will they have to travel another 20  to 30 minutes?“ said Gallegos.

That fear is just one of many that triggered the calls for a moratorium and defunding the Hawaii Community Development Authority.

"We knew some of our proposals were extreme but we wanted to introduce them to generate public discussion," said Majority Leader Scott Saiki who represents the Kakaako area.

The House and Land committee opted to defer those extreme measures but did advance bills to control the makeup of the board, limit HCDA's power to grant variances, and to allow the public to challenge the agency's actions.

Sharon Moriwake says residents of three Kakaako high rises are trying to contest recent approvals of several new towers.

"We don’t have a right to appeal. The community who is affected doesn’t have a right to appeal is basically what they are saying," said Moriwake who lives at Waterfront Towers.

After Saturday's marathon hearing and Tuesday’s House vote,  Moriwake and Gallegos said they believe they've been heard.

"We had more than 100 people testifying Saturday. The big message that came out is public engagement, what the process is, and to make sure the designs are smart growth," said Rep. Cindy Evans.

HCDA has maintained it is following its mission, but no one from the agency was on hand for the decision making.

Similar HCDA bills have been introduced in the Senate.

The Water and land Committee will take up three of them  Wednesday.



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