Whether you’re looking to attend a hearing or submit testimony on a bill, here’s what you need to know.

The Honolulu City Council is tasked with overseeing city matters that have immense impacts on our everyday lives, be it roads, zoning or housing. If you want to make your voice heard or take a closer look at the process, consider this your guide to getting involved in local government.

You can skip straight to the guide, or scan these bookmarks to jump to the section you’re interested in:

Have a question about participating in Honolulu City Council that isn’t listed here? Drop it below and we’ll take a look!

Questions About Honolulu City Council

How Can I Attend A Meeting?

Honolulu Hale King street view2. 1 may 2017
Honolulu Hale is located at the corner of King and Punchbowl streets in downtown Honolulu, near the Hawaii State Capitol and Iolani Palace. (Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2017)

The Honolulu City Council meets in Honolulu Hale at 530 S. King St. in downtown Honolulu. Honolulu is a bit unusual — the island of Oahu is both a city and county, and council members serve the entire area.

Honolulu Hale is open from 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on weekdays. If you’ve never been, keep an eye out for this distinctive California Spanish-style building with an expansive green lawn — it’s hard to miss!

You’ll find the council chambers upstairs. It’s a good idea to arrive early, if possible. Seats can fill up quickly, especially if a hot-button topic is up for a final vote.

Where Should I Park?

Metered, time-limited street parking is available on Punchbowl and South King streets.

Think you’ll be there a while? It’s best to park in a nearby garage, such as the Alii Place Parking Garage at 1099 Alakea St.

When Does The Council Meet?

The full City Council meets at least once per month. Take a look at the council calendar for specific dates.

A quorum, or majority of the council, must be present in order to move forward with a vote.

Committee meetings are held in between meetings of the full council and allow council members to fine-tune details of proposed legislation and hear input from the public. This is where the nitty-gritty details are hashed out, so it’s a good place to make your voice heard on issues that you care about. But be prepared — the council limits testimony to 1 minute.

Can I Watch A City Council Meeting Online?

Yes! Honolulu City Council meetings can be livestreamed online or watched on Olelo Community Media channel 54.

Miss a meeting live? You can watch archived meetings on the City Council website, too.

Where Can I Find Information On Bills And Resolutions?

The Honolulu City Council maintains a database with information about bills and resolutions.

You can search by year, measure number and keyword. Once you’ve found the piece of legislation you’re interested in, you can check out the bill’s current status, see how council members voted, see which committees are tasked with vetting the bill, read public testimony and more.

Bills must pass three meetings — or “readings” — in front of the full City Council before they can head to the mayor’s desk, where he may choose to sign the bill into law or veto it.

How Can I Follow Along With Council Meeting Agendas?

Check the council calendar for upcoming events and click on the meeting you’re interested in. Agendas and other meeting materials will be hyperlinked there.

Honolulu City Council agendas are posted at least six days ahead of the meeting, except in an emergency event where swift action is needed. Scope out the agenda before the day of the meeting so you have an idea of what to expect.

The introductory section explains how to submit testimony and how to attend or view the meeting. Keep scrolling to see what’s on tap that day — you can click on titles of bills and resolutions, which makes it easy for you to get up to speed on whatever items pique your interest.

Here’s an example of how agenda items look on paper:

Committee report numbers are hyperlinked in the left column, beside a brief description of the bill or resolution up for consideration. The underlined section indicates how far a piece of legislation has advanced in the process and what action council members are considering taking that day.

How Can I Submit Testimony On A Bill?

Residents can submit written and/or oral testimony remotely or in person.

Oral Testimony

If you plan to speak, be sure to keep your remarks under 3 minutes for items such as public hearing or new business, and 1 minute for all other times.

Check the agenda for specific instructions, but remote speakers can call or videoconference in. In-person speakers should fill out a registration form outside of the meeting room.

Written Testimony

You can submit testimony online. You’ll need to know the relevant meeting and agenda item.

Prefer snail mail? Send it to: Office of the City Clerk, Attention: Information Section, 530 S. King St., Room 100, Honolulu, HI 96813.

Who Are The Honolulu City Council Members?

A current list of Honolulu’s nine City Council members can be found on the council’s website.

You can enter your address on the City Council’s website to get a phone number, email address and website link for your elected representative. If you’ve got concerns or suggestions about issues in your backyard, that’s a great place to start.

There are nine City Council districts on Oahu. Members are elected to serve four-year terms and are prohibited from serving more than two consecutive full terms.

Which City Council District Do I Live In?

The best way to find your council district is to search for your address online. Some neighborhoods, such as Kakaako or Ewa Beach, are split across boundaries, so it’s a good idea to verify your district if you live near a district boundary.

Communities are divided into council districts as follows, according to the Honolulu City Council website:

  • District 1: Kapolei, Hoopili, Makakilo, Kalaeloa, Honokai Hale, Ko Olina, Nanakuli, Maili, Waianae, Makaha, Keaau, Makua and parts of Ewa Beach.
  • District 2: Waikele, Village Park, Royal Kunia, Wahiawa, Mokuleia, Waialua, Haleiwa, Pupukea, Sunset Beach, Kahuku, Laie, Hauula, Punaluu, Kahana, Kaaawa, Kualoa, Waiahole, and Kahaluu.
  • District 3: Ahuimanu, Heeia, Haiku, Kaneohe, Maunawili, Kailua, Olomana, Enchanted Lake, and Waimanalo
  • District 4: Hawaii Kai, Kuliouou, Niu Valley, Aina Haina, Wailupe, Waialae Iki, Kalani Valley, Kahala, Wilhemina Rise, Kaimuki, Kapahulu, Diamond Head, and Waikiki.
  • District 5: Palolo Valley, St. Louis Heights, Manoa, Moiliili, McCully, Ala Moana, Makiki, and parts of Kakaako.
  • District 6: Downtown Honolulu, Punchbowl, Papakolea, Pauoa Valley, Nuuanu, Iwilei, Liliha, Alewa Heights, Kalihi, Kalihi Valley and parts of Kakaako.
  • District 7: Kalihi Kai, Mapunapuna, Fort Shafter, Moanalua, Salt Lake, Airport, Hickam, Aliamanu, Foster Village, Pearl Harbor, Halawa, Pearlridge, Mokuumeume, Sand Island and parts of Aiea.
  • District 8: Waimalu, Newtown, Pearl City, Seaview, Crestview, Waipi‘o Gentry, Koa Ridge, Mililani Town, Mililani Mauka and parts of Aiea.
  • District 9: Waipahu, Iroquois Point, West Loch, Ewa Villages and parts of Ewa Beach.

Where Can I Find Existing Honolulu Ordinances?

View the Revised Ordinances of Honolulu to check out existing laws. You have the option to search by keyword, phrase or heading.

Recently revised laws can also be found online.

Get The Latest Honolulu City Council Updates

Don’t miss our in-depth reporting on the Honolulu City Council. Find our latest articles on the city council or, more broadly, about Honolulu. Subscribe to our daily Morning Beat newsletter to get our latest headlines delivered straight to your inbox.

Support Civil Beat during the season of giving.

As a small nonprofit newsroom, our mission is powered by readers like you. But did you know that less than 1% of readers donate to Civil Beat?

Give today and support local journalism that helps to inform, empower and connect.

About the Author