A House panel approved four bills on Tuesday morning to rein in the authority of the state agency in charge of developing Kakaako.

The Hawaii Community Development Authority has been highly criticized over the past year by Hawaii residents who worry that the agency has been approving new buildings without regard to the community’s concerns about the type and pace of development.

Water and Land Committee Chairwoman Cindy Evans dismissed measures that would have abolished the agency or imposed a one-year moratorium on development. 

The lawmaker instead pushed forward four measures to improve the agency’s accountability, transparency and building rules.

HCDA spokeswoman Lindsey Doi said after the hearing that the agency hadn’t yet seen the amended bills but was looking forward to working with lawmakers on them.

Evans deleted the language in House Bill 1863 and added a “citizens’ right to action,” a way to help residents dispute new buildings.

She deleted the contents of House Bill 1865 and added language to require a financial and management audit of HCDA.

She amended House Bill 1866 and House Bill 1867 to require more public notices from HCDA; mandate that reserved housing units to be sold to people under a certain income level, not just set aside for them; impose deadlines for Gov. Neil Abercrombie to appoint members of the agency’s board; and require buildings taller than 100 feet to have 300 feet between them, among other changes.

Evans said after the hearing that the bills are a work-in-progress and the language still needs to be “tightened up.” 

House Majority Leader Scott Saiki who introduced the bills said that he’s satisfied with the committee’s changes. 

The bills now go to the House Finance Committee.

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— Anita Hofschneider