Honolulu Civil Beat: ‘Hawaii House Seeks Solution on OHA Kakaako Makai Bill’

PF Bentley-Civil Beat

By Chad Blair
Honolulu Civil Beat, 04/22/2014

House negotiators on a controversial bill allowing residential development in Kakaako Makai are signaling they may be willing to compromise.

Rep. Cindy Evans told Sen. Maile Shimabukuro Tuesday at the State Capitol that the House wants “to move” on Senate Bill 3122 “and that definitely we need to find a solution.”

While the House supports “the idea” of authorizing the Office of Hawaiian Affairs to build condominiums on three parcels, Evans said there are still concerns about how passing SB 3122 might affect what happens in other parts of Kakaako that are under the purview of the Hawaii Community Development Authority.

The HCDA has been criticized by community members and some lawmakers for moving too fast on developing the mauka area of the neighborhood.

“We’re looking at making sure whatever we do on these parcels, we need to consider how it will influence other parcels in the makai area,” she said.

Shimabukuro proposed a conference draft that she said is consistent with the House’s version of SB 3122 but also “tweaks” the legislation by altering the bill’s preamble and making technical changes based on language in House Bill 1866, which calls for reforming how the HCDA operates.

For example, OHA’s buildings could not exceed 418 feet in height. HB 1866 also places additional public hearing requirements on the HCDA when projects are proposed.

HB 1866 has already passed both houses and is awaiting action from Gov. Neil Abercrombie. He has until May 1 to sign the bill — the last day of the legislative session.

The OHA Kakaako Makai bill is far from a done deal.

Earlier this month, the author of SB 3122, Senate Majority Leader Brickwood Galuteria, lambasted the author of HB 1866, House Majority Leader Scott Saiki, when Saiki seemed to suggest that Galuteria’s bill would not survive conference committee.

Saiki has been one of the most vocal critics of HCDA while Galuteria has been one of the most ardent supporters of developing Kakaako. Both represent the neighborhood, and both are up for re-election.

SB 3122 also has to be approved by House Finance, even though there is no appropriation in the bill. During the long slog that is conference committee, the fate of many bills remains uncertain until the money committees weigh in. Finance Chairwoman Sylvia Luke is a Saiki ally.

Opponents of SB 3122, worried that high-rises in Kakaako Makai will block access to one of the few oceanfront spaces in Honolulu, have lobbied heavily to stop the bill.

So have supporters of the bill, who argue that OHA needs to build in Kakaako Makai to generate revenue to help Native Hawaiian beneficiaries.

Click here to read the full article on the Civil Beat site.

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