HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Dozens of Kakaako residents turned out for a meeting with lawmakers to express concerns over development plans, and ended up hearing from Gov. Neil Abercrombie.
State and city lawmakers had called the meeting at the State Capitol after hearing from residents, who spokes about how the area can't handle proposed development that could result in several buildings, some that could reach 700 feet in height.
"When we have a bad rain, the sewers already back up," said resident Kathi Kreinik. "And the reason they back up into our building is because the sewers aren't able to handle it. And so we're talking about putting multi multi multi multi more people in this area."
"This whole area is in a flood evacuation and tsunami evacuation zone," said Downtown Neighborhood Board member Lynne Matusow, drawing applause from the audience.
There were also concerns that there would be more traffic in the area. "These towers are going up but I don't hear any conversation about what sort of really practical enterprises are going to go in terms of supermarkets or a Longs Drugs or anything like that," said resident Jimmy Nelson.
Many at the gathering were also critical of the Hawaii Community Development Authority, the state agency that oversees development in Kakaako.
"What I think everybody here really wants is to be represented," said John Horvath, resident manager for One Waterfront Towers. "And the HCDA is not representing the people in this room." That remark drew loud applause.
Audio of the meeting available throughout the capitol building, and was heard by Gov. Neil Abercrombie, who arrived just as the hearing was about to wrap up.
He defended the HCDA. "The board is working very, very hard to try to make decisions that will accommodate the greatest number of people in the most sensible way in terms of the plan that they put forward."
Audience members expressed skepticism of the proposals, which drew fire from the governor. "There's plenty of housing," said a resident. "There's not plenty of housing," Abercrombie replied. "Okay, we'll have a difference of opinion here. There is not plenty of housing. There is not plenty of housing!"
While the governor expressed confidence in the HCDA, the lawmakers said they may still step in.
"The legislature created the HCDA by statute, and we have the ability to modify that statute," said Rep. Scott Saiki (D-McCully, Kakaako, Downtown). "It's within our prerogative to do that."
The lawmakers also encouraged to attend upcoming HCDA hearings on three proposed developments, and said they would try to get the agency to schedule more evening hearings, as all the hearings currently are scheduled to take place during the day.
HCDA will hold public hearings for public review/comment and decision making at its office (461 Cooke Street) on various development projects as follows:
803 Waimanu Street Development Project
- Wednesday, June 5, 9:30 a.m. (public review)
- Wednesday, July 3, 9 a.m. (decision making)
404 Ward Avenue Development Project
- Wednesday, June 19, 9 a.m. (public review)
- Wednesday, July 17, 9 a.m. (decision making)
604 Ala Moana Boulevard Development Project
- Wednesday June 19 2013, 10 a.m. (public review)
- Wednesday, August 7, 9 a.m. (decision making)
HCDA Informational Briefing on Kakaako Transit Oriented Development Plan
- Wednesday, June 5, 9:30 a.m.