Following the testimony given last week at the City Council committee hearing, the popular online publisher, Civil Beat today published a story (link below) revealing the extent of campaign contributions by the Developer to key city officials. These officials are key decision makers in approving the projects for the Developer PACREP of the Ritz-Carlton Waikiki Beach Residences – Tower 1, (and now the proposed – Tower 2).
The article is a good read if you are wondering how this Developer is getting away with building two towers having 100% all ocean-facing units, when the Waikiki building guidelines specifically state that, All new high-rise towers should be oriented Mauka/Makai in order to preserve views, scenic resources and natural ventilation.
See the Civil Beat article here.
Why we should all be concerned
Tower 1 clearly could have been oriented mauka/makai on this site, but George Atta and David Tanoue (current and previous directors of the DPP) allowed a Diamond Head/Ewa orientation which afforded the Developer the unusual advantage of having 100% all direct ocean-facing units.
Being that Tower 1 book-ends a neighborhood street (Launiu St. which goes from Ala Wai to Kuhio), and will seriously impede ocean views of existing and any future developments on this street, it should have been even more critical to abide by the WSD Guidelines on Tower 1.
This is why we were so dismayed at the City Council and the DPP for allowing this 350 foot wall that will parallel the coastline. And why we were shocked to hear the DPP publicly stating multiple times in the City Council hearing last week that “the Waikiki building design guidelines are just guidelines”.
One of the key guidelines, (of mauka/makai orientation) is again being broken on Tower 2, in order to allow the Developer a maximum return on investment (ROI) by enabling them to use their entire permitted floor density for all ocean-facing units again.
If the DPP and City Council continues to ignore this key guideline on orientation, then Waikiki would quickly become a row of walls. Preserving view planes is one of the main intentions of the WSD guidelines (which were created in 2000), and also the reason the Waikiki Neighborhood Board and the community have been testifying against this project’s design. If the city is not going to try and preserve view planes and scenic resources, then the community has to try.
Also, unbelievably the DPP had also ignored serious objections by the Design Advisory Committee (DAC) on Tower 1’s orientation. Their objections are documented in the DPP’s approval document for Tower 1 (definitely look at the DAC’s comments in the link below).
The link below shows some of the key pages of the DPP’s approval on Tower 1:
(pages 8, 9 and 10 show the comments from the DAC – Design Advisory Committee)
This document below describes what the DAC – Design Advisory Committee is (on page 2):
In addition, the city’s DPP Director (during Tower 1), is now working for the Developer on Tower 2!
One more important piece which goes with all this, is that the previous Director of the DPP (David Tanoue) resigned (Oct 1, 2012) to start working for R.M. Towill Corp. And, now R.M. Towill Corp is employed by PACREP (the Developer), as their main consultant responsible for drafting the DEA and FEA documents on Tower 2 for the city to approve.
So… David Tanoue, who was the DPP Director during much of the time when Tower 1 was going through the approval process, is now working for PACREP on Tower 2 in preparing the DEA and FEA for the DPP approval. One wonders, how many people in the DPP would honestly be comfortable denying approval of documents submitted by their previous boss and immediate predecessor?
So the question on everyone’s mind is: Along with all the contributions found so far, and these kinds of relationships with the DPP, can anyone believe that the community ever stands a chance of influencing any decisions which are being run through the system at lightning speed by PACREP and the DPP?
The Director of the DPP is “appointed” by the Mayor. There are no contributions to the DPP, since they are not an “elected” official. But the connection is evident. The Mayor has received about $50,000 from the Developer, their family and business associates.