Scores come out to push back against highrise sprinkler bill

Concerns over cost continue to delay vote on fire sprinkler bill
Published: Dec. 19, 2017 at 3:21 AM HST|Updated: Dec. 19, 2017 at 10:49 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - About 100 people packed Honolulu Hale Monday night to once again, voice their concerns over a bill mandating fire sprinklers in older high rise buildings.

"That's my Christmas wish," said condo owner Pat Paterson to city councilmembers. "Stop thinking of ways to spend our money. There are enough ways that you're doing it now."

The push for a new law came after July's deadly Marco Polo blaze, but the sense of urgency has been overshadowed by concerns about the cost.

"They're estimating $30,000 to $50,000 per unit and I don't have that money," said Paterson.

"It's so difficult," said councilmember Ann Kobayashi. "There are old buildings and the tenants are also older, they don't want to take out a new loan."

Kobayashi and councilmembers Carol Fukanaga and Trevor Ozawa heard testimony from dozens of condo association representatives and homeowners for two hours.

They are looking into adding financial incentives with a new bill, including offering loans, fee waivers and tax credits, but many condo owners say it's not good enough.

"We made a decision and accepted the risk of no sprinklers when we bought our homes," said condo owner Eric Johnson. "I want to thank you for coming up with financial ideas, but the key issue at the end of the day is we still have to pay for it and we don't want to."

"With all these buildings, we're going to be spending hundreds of millions of dollars for a very rare event and the only people that are going to be happy about it are the contractors," added condo owner Jim Morrow.

Councilmembers will review all the comments before drafting a new report. Another meeting will be announced in January.

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