WHOA! Hold the horses! This Hawaii legislative session has damaged enough core democratic Sunshine, Environmental, and Open Government protections.

A wise octogenarian world leader, Gordon B Hinckley, once counseled some of us to be careful not to provide a solution because of creating a thousand more problems thereafter. This legislative session seems to be filled with many knee-jerk solutions that will produce many unintended consequences.

Legislators like House Speaker Calvin Say and first-term senator Donovan Dela Cruz have no qualm quashing and trampling on basic core democratic values that protect us all.

They engaged in Houdini magical tricks at the capitol by gutting and replacing contents of a harmless bill and replacing them with other controversial contents. These bill squatters also play nefarious games with meeting schedules — jerking citizens around by postponing meetings or imposing last-minute schedules. Many of these committee meetings are not taped or televised so the public can not witness the arrogance and shibai involved.

There have been concerted efforts of many groups and citizens against erosion of sunshine laws and statutory concerns but their efforts mostly fall on deaf ears. How can reasonable citizens forget legislators who display such errant behavior? I know of at least one citizen group – Non-Partisan Hawai’i ‘Ohana – which intends to bird-dog legislators to Election Day.

Voting is still on-going. Please VOTE NO ON SENATE BILL 2927 SD2, HD1, CD1, CD2. There are a couple public petitions that concerned citizens can ally with.



It’s a travesty for Dela Cruz and Say to marginalize Hawai’i’s fragile environment and the public process that allows residents to participate in the major decisions that will affect their own communities. Anti-public Senate Bill 2927 is one. Problematic senate Bill 2927 does the following:

  • Authorizes state-wide “planning districts” apart from existing county plans;

  • Authorizes within “planning districts” new “exceptional” (SD2) / ”qualified” (CD1) exceptionally high-density developments to achieve undefined “desired” land use density and undefined transit ridership goals (“transit-oriented developments”).

  • Diminishes required environmental review to arbitrary “considerations” for so-called “qualified planning projects” (exceptionally high- density redevelopment projects);

  • Exempts so-called “qualified planning projects” in state-wide “planning districts” from compliance with existing zoning laws, including setback, density and height limit regulations;

  • Exempts so-called “qualified planning projects” in state-wide “planning districts” from zoning standards and the zone change process;

  • Authorizes additional county development incentives, yet these remain undefined and open to speculation;

  • Exempts so-called “qualified planning projects” in state-wide “planning districts” from all state fees that support public facilities associated with land development;

  • Authorizes a discretionary review process to transfer floor area allowances from separate parcels within a “planning district” to create higher densities for so-called “qualified planning projects” on other parcels.;

  • Authorizes Honolulu City and County to specify an undefined high-density transit-oriented development “radius” around bus stations and centers and rail transit stations, which could impact and adversely affect conservation land, open shoreline recreational areas, historic sites, and agricultural lands (see attached maps);

  • Restricts county councils to only 45 days for review, public input and decision by Resolution on “qualified planning project” applications submitted by planning agencies.

We ask all legislators to exercise moral and civic courage to protect core democratic values. Do not quaver or shirk this basic kuleana. At the end of the day, we are all human beings surviving in the same canoe. We go home to our children, families, and communities. We will not be in power forever. Remember our island home. We are not Arizona, New York, Utah, or Hong Kong. We are Hawaii.

The decisions we make together will define who we are and what we stand for. Senate Bill 2927 SD2, HD1, CD1, CD2 is a knee-jerk solution that will create too many undemocratic kingdoms and tyrants.

VOTE an unequivocal “NO” on Senate Bill 2927 SD2, HD1, CD1, CD2.

“No with reservations” is still a “Yes.”

To vote “Yes” would be a travesty to basic democratic process that protects us and makes us all equal.

Kill Senate bill 2927.

Begin over with all stake holders at the conversation table, not just the exceptional few. We will not forget this session.

About the author: Choon James is a member of the Ko’olauloa Sustainable Communities Planning Committee. She has been a real estate broker for over 20 years.