The hearing on 1/24/2013 with the City Council Planning and Zoning Committee went as expected. They got a 5-0 committee vote for the 50 feet height variance. It still has to go in front of the full council on Wednesday 1/30/2013 (we hope you will be there – see the next post for info).
About 5 residents from 4 Paddle showed up plus a few others who are against various aspects of this project, including the labor union (Local 5 Hawaii).
The council members that were there included:
- Ikaika Anderson (chaired the meeting)
- Ron Menor
- Ann Kobayashi
- Breene Harimoto
- Kymberly Marcos Pine
Two council members that asked questions to the DPP about the “orientation” issue were Kymberly Marcos Pine and Ron Menor.
Craig and I gave oral testimony. We used the opportunity to also make the issues known to City Council about the orientation of the tower and other issues, although the resolution being discussed was on the 50-foot height variance. We think that we raised the Committee’s awareness of the orientation issues somewhat. However, the committee does not have a say really in the orientation. It’s the DPP that approves this. Although it doesn’t hurt to help the city council be more aware of what’s going on, and to plead our case. The next step is the Mayor, Kirk Caldwell.
Our Waikiki District council member (Stanley Chang) did not show up, nor did the council chair (Ernest Y. Martin) attend the hearing on this resolution. We were disappointed that at least Stanley was not there, and also Ernest, since multiple letters have been sent to both of them previously from the community.
The 50 foot variance is good for us really, since the developers are promising a narrower blockage of mauka/makai views.
But we are amazed as to why there is no justification being made as to why the developer is being allowed by the DPP to build a Diamond Head / Eva oriented wall, when the property can easily support a mauka/makai oriented building. The questions that were asked by the council members were more general, regarding orentation. Rather than asking the DPP specifically, what justifies this “wall” orientation over a mauka/makai orientation?
This is something we really need to get answers to.
The DPP (Department of Permitting & Planning) director (Jiro Sumada), did not express any concern about the “wall” orientation when they asked him about the orientation issue by the Committee. Sumada’s response was that the design meets the guidelines based on the “view from Kalakaua looking towards Diamond Head”. He did not justify how meeting this guideline is more important than the mauka/makai orientations guideline, which is clearly expressed in the Waikiki Special District Guidelines.
If the view from Kalakau looking towards Diamond Head is reason enough for building structures parallel to the ocean, then that would justify “All” buildings be built parallel to the ocean, which we know is just plain silly.
Also, Rick Egged (president of the city’s Waikiki Improvement Association) was there and totally supported the developer. When the committee asked him about the Waikiki Neighborhood Board’s concerns about the “wall” orientation issue, he did a complete dance around the answer avoiding question that was asked about the WNB’s concerns. Rick Egged has completely ignored any concerns about this building from the community and the Waikiki Neighborhood Board from the beginning. He shows no concern for the community, and does not represent the community’s interest in the slightest way, when given the opportunity.
We also learned that there is a lawsuit opened in civil courts against this project, by the Local 5 union. Generally, they are interested in the jobs creation or lack thereof by this project. They believe, as we do, that the project has changed the design, jobs estimates, etc. multiple times and that it is being rushed through too fast.
Everyone is encouraged to contact City Council and express this lack of justification for the orientation and lack of concern for the Waikiki Neighborhood Board’s letters regarding the orientation, as well as the many letters from the community.
Information to: Contact the Council Members
And the Mayor, Kirk Caldwell