Last anti-rail push on eve of election - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Last anti-rail push on eve of election

Simeon Bala Simeon Bala
Ann Kobayashi Ann Kobayashi

By Mari-Ela David - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - For every answer the draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) offers, it also seems to bring up more questions, differences of opinion, and confusion over what might or might not be in the path of any future rail system.

In a final push to fight rail, mayoral candidate Ann Kobayashi and Stop Rail Now spent the day before Election Day speaking against Mayor Mufi Hanneman's mass transit plan. By their side were people who may lose their homes or businesses to rail.

Boulevard Saimin is one of many businesses along Dillingham Boulevard. The owner, too shaken to speak on camera, just learned yesterday that part of the property her restaurant sits on will be carved out to widen the street and make way for rail.

Kobayashi visited Boulevard Saimin to check on the owner. She blasts the Hanneman Administration for not giving people enough time to evaluate the impacts.

"40,000 people have already voted and it's kind of late to inform the public about what's happening," Kobayashi said.

At Honolulu Hale, Banana Patch residents joined Stop Rail Now, hoping to add momentum in the anti-rail group's fight to stop the city from taking away their homes.

There are a cluster of homes on Banana Patch, located off Kamehameha Highway in Pearl City.

"It's hard to find another place the same as my place right now," said Simeon Bala, a Banana Patch resident of 30 years.

"I was kind of upset when I heard about rail because I don't want to lose my property over there," said Banana Patch resident Emilio Farinas.

Some businesses also showed up with Stop Rail Now.

"If they try to take our property and it's just a partial acquisition, we're going to be put out of business and that isn't fair," said Bill Borders of Island Pool and Spa Supply, located on Kona Street near the proposed rail line.

Anti-rail groups say the impacts of rail is more reason to push for Kobayashi's EzWay transit system, which would not force any business or homeowner to move out.

Stop Rail Now contends the city's claim that rail will reduce congestion by 23%, saying the DEIS shows ridership will increase from 6% to 7%.

"How can you increase riders from 1% and get a 23% reduction in congestion? This is fantastic math. This doesn't happen in the real world," said Panos Prevedouros, former anti-rail mayoral candidate.

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