Editor’s note: Civil Beat asked candidates to answer some questions about where they stand on various issues and what their priorities will be if elected.

The following came from Trevor Ozawa, one of four candidates for Honolulu City Council District 4 in southeast Oahu. The others are Ricky Marumoto, Natalie Iwasa and Tommy Waters.

Go to Civil Beat’s Elections Guide for general information, and check out candidates appearing on the Aug. 11 Primary Election Ballot.

Candidate for Honolulu City Council District 4

Trevor Ozawa
Party Nonpartisan
Age 35
Occupation Attorney
Residence Hawaii Kai

Website

Community organizations/prior offices held

Incumbent.

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

I support public-private partnerships to help pay for the operation and maintenance of rail, such as a design-build-finance-operate-maintain model for the remainder of the city center guideway, stations and Pearl Highlands parking facility.

To that end, the City Council adopted Resolution 17-263, which I introduced, urging the city administration and HART to consider private-public partnerships to fund improvements as well as creating economic development opportunities along the transit route. Such partnerships would provide clear cost and schedule benefits and be a predictable source of revenue for the project that could be used to help pay for operation and maintenance costs. Additionally, such a partnership would shift the overall risk of the project away from taxpayers and to the private sector partner(s).

2. 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?

I will continue to support the immediate transitioning of homeless people into shelters that provide wrap-around services, innovative approaches like hygiene centers, and efforts to increase the housing inventory at all price points. The 2018 Homeless Point-In-Time count has revealed that a coordinated effort that engages the community, all levels of government, the business and nonprofit sectors is the most effective way to provide the much-needed services that are required to help those in need. While the count highlighted some progress on the issue, we must remain vigilant in addressing this issue throughout Oahu.

I will continue to support Housing First initiatives and efforts aimed at helping those on the streets into shelters as soon as possible. Getting individuals and families in need settled in a shelter is an important first step so that they will have access to a clean environment as well as services and assistance.

With the continued support of the Institute for Human Services, I supported the expansion of the sit-lie ban in District 4 as I believe it prompts homeless to get needed help and is a tool to keep our public spaces open and accessible to all.

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

I support increasing the inventory of affordable housing at all price points. We can achieve this by working collaboratively with developers, exploring funding mechanisms and incentives to make projects financially viable, as well as re-examining our policies — including city ordinances — to see where the city can be innovative and creative.

Dialogue and negotiations can be successful in this endeavor to increase the number of affordable units that are being constructed. For example, I successfully secured 60 percent of SamKoo’s 484-unit Kapiolani Residence be made affordable. SamKoo is also working on a second development project that will reserve a significant portion of the units for qualified Hawaii buyers.

Recently, I supported Bills 58 and 59 (2017), which sought to establish an affordable housing requirement to increase the production of affordable housing and supports the creation and maintenance of affordable dwelling units. Transit-oriented development and accompanying planned development transit permitting process also provides tools for affordable housing units to be included in future projects.

4. 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?

The City and County of Honolulu needs to promote policies that seek to alleviate congestion, continue its investment in transit-oriented development, and ultimately an integrated multi-modal transportation system. Altogether, these become the tools that provide residents and visitors the options for their transportation needs.

Programs such as van-/carpools, staggered work times and telecommuting are all viable options that can be deployed by the city (and other employers). I authored Bill 24 (2015), which established the framework to support car-sharing organizations to operate in the city. Companies like Enterprise and Servco have subsequently launched car-sharing programs.

Additionally, the city needs to examine and realign antiquated contraflow lanes including the turn restrictions placed on afternoon commuters on Kapiolani Boulevard. As such, I successfully fought for a pilot program to eliminate unnecessary left-turn restrictions. Driver habits and behaviors have changed and it is puzzling that a contraflow lane and turn restrictions that were put in place 66 years old are still being used today.

As Honolulu changes, it is imperative that the city supports a multi-modal transportation system that can provide sustainable, reliable and affordable options for residents and visitors alike.

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

As chairman of the Honolulu City Council Budget Committee, I remain committed to balancing our city’s upcoming fiscal year budgets by ensuring that we fund essential government services and operations without raising property taxes or revenues. The mayor had proposed a new fee on trash and bulky-item pickups to generate more revenue; however, the Budget Committee did not feel those new fees were necessary. In the end, the Budget Committee was able to adopt a budget without implementing new fees.

It is critical that we look at reducing or limiting existing expenditures before we entertain any new fee or an increase in taxes.

6. Illegal vacation rentals are proliferating and residents worry about overcrowded neighborhoods and other problems. Do you see this as a problem given Hawaii’s booming visitor industry, and what would you propose to do about it?

In addition to greater enforcement of existing ordinances, we need sensible and practical regulation to address the reality of what is happening in our neighborhoods. I am currently leading efforts in drafting legislation that proposes a framework of regulation while providing more enforcement of such ordinances. Additionally, once the framework is in place, it will also provide the city an opportunity to collect additional tax revenue.

7. Hawaii’s public records law mandates that public records be made available whenever possible. And yet the cost for search and redaction is often prohibitively expensive and it often takes months for the records to be released. What would you do to improve our public records system?

I have been a strong proponent of greater accountability and transparency in government. For example, I introduced a resolution urging the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation Board to broadcast all of its meetings on public access television. I also supported improvements to the city’s website to make it more user-friendly and make information more accessible. If re-elected, I will continue to be a strong proponent of increased accountability and transparency in government and to hold public officials accountable through a better public records systems.

8. What more should Honolulu be doing to prepare for the effects of climate change, including sea level rise and threats to the reefs?

In my time on the council, I have continually supported efforts at addressing sustainability and the preservation of vital public spaces. For example, I successfully secured $3.5 million in funding for the preservation of the Ka Iwi Coastline lands and Kanewai Springs and facilitated the creation of the Waikiki Beach Special Improvement District. The district is intended to address the preservation and long-term sustainability of Waikiki Beach. One of its biggest projects is to facilitate the construction of a groin (seawall) to help mitigate the adverse impacts of sea-tides and currents that shift and wash-away sand from the beach.

As the Budget Committee chair, I supported the funding of the City’s Office of Climate Change, Sustainability and Resilience that has been tasked to help prepare the city for the effects of climate change. Additionally, the City Council adopted Resolution 18-55 – that I introduced – urging the city administration to increase the city’s urban canopy to at least 35 percent by 2035. We need to plan ahead and anticipate how climate change is going to impact Honolulu and our resources in the coming years and plan accordingly.

9. What do you see as the most pressing issue facing your district? What will you do about it?

The most pressing issue facing my district is the issue of homelessness. I will continue to support the immediate transitioning of homeless people into shelters that provide wrap-around services, innovative approaches like hygiene centers, and efforts to increase the housing inventory at all price points.

The 2018 Homeless Point-In-Time count has revealed that a coordinated effort that engages the community, all levels of government, the business and nonprofit sectors is the most effective way to provide the much-needed services that are required to help those in need. While the count highlighted some progress on the issue, we must remain vigilant in addressing this issue throughout Oahu.

I will continue to support Housing First initiatives and efforts aimed at helping those on the streets into shelters as soon as possible. Getting individuals and families in need settled in a shelter is an important first step so that they will have access to a clean environment as well as services and assistance.