Editor’s note: For Hawaii’s Aug. 11 primary, 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 Carol Fukunaga, a candidate for Honolulu City Council District 6, which covers portions of Makiki, downtown, Punchbowl, Pauoa Valley, Nuuanu, Alewa Heights, Papakolea, Fort Shafter, Moanalua, Halawa, Aiea, Kalihi Valley, Liliha and Kalihi. There are three other candidates, Tyler Dos Santos-Tam, Ikaika Hussey and Zachary Stoddard.
1. How do you think the city should pay for the operation and maintenance of rail once it’s built?
Since the operations and maintenance of the transit system reverts back to the city’s Department of Transportation Services, HART and city transportation planners should also be exploring partnerships with businesses and service providers whose functions will complement transit operations (e.g., SMARTCard vendors, retailers, wireless service providers, international retail and payment systems, etc.). We should explore a broad range of revenue-generating partnerships to reduce the city’s reliance on city tax revenues alone.
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?
Rather than an islandwide sit-lie ban, I support the City Council’s approach of funding homeless housing/services solutions specific to each council district. Since 2014, the City Council has appropriated $82.5 million in bond funds for community revitalization projects tailored to specific homeless groups – such as navigation centers like Hale Mauliola, crisis clinics, transitional housing and the Kuwili Street hygiene center. It has also appropriated $55.6 million for land acquisition and development of affordable housing, primarily in transit-oriented zones.
Many unsheltered homeless individuals in my council district have mental health or chemical dependency issues, but there’s waiting lists for the Hale Mauliola navigation center (Sand Island) and for Mental Health Kokua’s 25-bed Safe Haven program. I’ve also received calls to expand on HPD’s “Project HELP” clinic because of its positive results in Chinatown.
Housing alternatives like the Safe Haven program, navigation centers, hygiene and crisis centers demonstrate what works, so we’re looking for additional locations for such programs and hygiene/crisis centers in District 6.
3. Oahu has one of the most expensive housing markets in the country. What specific proposals do you have to make housing more affordable?
The council promotes affordable housing in TOD zones with:
(1) Ordinance 16-26 – Density and financing tools for state and county housing development agencies to increase the amount of units they can develop on public lands near transit stations. Agencies like Hawaii Public Housing Authority could redevelop its properties along the transit route to add almost 10,000 additional units to its current inventory.
(2) $55.6 million to develop affordable housing and infrastructure in transit-oriented zones (2015-2018), which leverage density/zoning incentives that the Council added to the Downtown-Iwilei and Kalihi TOD Plans.
(3) Adoption of Ordinance 18-10 (requires developers to build affordable housing units in new residential projects with more than 10 units) and Ordinance 18-1 (developer incentives).
(4) Affordable housing in transit zones using state financing tools – Sam Koo Pacific’s Kapiolani Residence: 60% of the project’s 484 units are affordable units for people earning 120% of AMI and below, and 40% of the units are market-rate units. The developer plans a second condominium tower near Ala Moana Center with a similar mix of 60% affordable units and 40% market-rate units.
(5) Adoption of Ordinance 18-06 to halt the spread of ‘monster homes’ popping up in older single-family neighborhoods.
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 abate congestion?
The council should propose incentives for creation of new industries – with higher-paying jobs – in the Kapolei-West Oahu region, so that employment clusters are distributed more evenly between urban Honolulu and West Oahu.
As city transportation planners propose multimodal transportation alternatives in the urban core to enable residents to use different forms of mobility, the City Council is often called upon to balance new transportation alternatives like e-scooters, ride-sharing, bike-sharing and other transport devices that generate safety complaints from pedestrians and motorists. Giving neighbors more say over the locations of bike lanes, pedestrian-friendly streets and installation of sidewalks can encourage increased participation in community revitalization.
5. Does the city need to boost its revenue? If so, how should that be done?
I support investing a greater share of tourist accommodation tax revenues in Honolulu, since the majority of visitor accommodations and attractions are located on Oahu. County allocations of TAT revenues have been capped since the post-2008 economic downturn, and positive visitor experiences rely heavily on the City and County of Honolulu’s public safety, recreational and emergency services.
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?
I agree that illegal vacation rentals are a problem; this “quality of life” issue creates turmoil in neighborhoods by pitting neighbors against neighbors, and reduces the affordable housing for Honolulu residents. City and state agencies must get together with property owners, community stakeholders and industry advocates to develop a practical means of sharing tax data and coordinated enforcement strategies.
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?
Amend the public records law to enable access to electronic documents rather than hard-copy documents whose copying involves high fee charges, and use technology solutions to simplify search/redaction functions.
8. What more should Honolulu be doing to prepare for the effects of climate change, including sea level rise and threats to the reefs?
Utilize the city’s new Office of Climate Change, Sustainability and Resiliency staff and Commission experts to spearhead evaluation of technical studies identifying specific climate change issues (e.g., including sea level rise, threats to the reefs, extreme weather and other changes that affect city infrastructure) so that coordinated plans with city/state, federal and international agencies can be developed without delay.
Within the past five years, flooding and land- or rockslides and extreme weather conditions have damaged private residential and commercial properties, as well as city infrastructure. The City and County of Honolulu should lead in developing plans to safeguard key commercial and business centers, and propose resiliency solutions to assist individuals in safeguarding their own properties and assets.
9. What do you see as the most pressing issue facing your district? What will you do about it?
Restoring public safety in city parks and along sidewalks. For example, the council funded Chief Ballard’s 2018 budget priorities for additional patrol officers, and to expand the value of community policing teams with homeless providers and crisis clinics. I have also asked businesses, residents and neighboring property owners to work with us in developing coordinated public safety and homeless solutions for their neighborhoods. This is why I support renovating Pauahi Recreation Center in Chinatown and improvements at Kamamalu Park to improve neighbors’ experiences and upgrade usage.
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