Returned Bills Raise Concerns Among Some Councilmembers

2 04 2014

Press Release on Mayor's Returned Bills

Bill 17 & Shoreline Setbacks

1 04 2014

Bill 17 PhotoIn a recent edition of the Star Advertiser, the editorial headline shouted “Don’t Ease Rules on Retaining Walls”. It was a critical commentary on Bill 17, a measure I introduced relating to shoreline setbacks. Contrary to the false impression created by the editorial and a similarly misinformed article in Civil Beat, Bill 17 would not allow sea walls or groins anywhere near any shoreline. It certainly would not permit such structures on sandy beaches such as those on the north shore of Oahu. Instead, Bill 17 would allow property owners of shoreline residential lots to build retaining walls, still through a permitting process, designed to limit erosion of “terrigenous” soil, consisting mostly of mud and silt, into the ocean. These lots are primarily found along Kaneohe Bay and have been responsible for vast amounts of sedimentation that has accumulated in the Bay over the years. Once clean and clear, Kaneohe Bay is a testament to the destructive force of sedimentation and unchecked run off into the ocean.

Because of the relatively limited shoreline available for residential development in Hawaii, oceanfront property will always be in high demand. Likewise there should be a corresponding insistence on shoreline protection measures. But strict protection of coastal zone areas on Oahu has not always been a high priority and some areas like Kaneohe Bay may never recover. Some shorelines have already been “hardened” by protective structures that tend to cause further erosion problems for adjacent property owners. In a report prepared for the Department of Land and Natural Resources in 1993, shoreline alterations, including seawalls, groins and other structures characterized 88% of the South Kaneohe Bay shoreline. It is likely that a great many of those structures were built illegally, but it is unreasonable to expect that they can be easily or completely removed. Rather than admit to the severity of the problem, the Department of Planning and Permitting contends that the current law has been working well since 1970. If you gauge success by the slim number of variances issued since then, and ignore the proliferation of illegal structures due in part to the nearly impossible permitting process, I guess you would be satisfied. In testimony opposing Bill 17, DPP claimed that it is in conflict with state law. But state law prohibits construction of private erosion-protection structures seaward of the shoreline “except when they result in improved aesthetic and engineering solutions to erosion at the sites and do not interfere with existing recreational and waterline activities.”

While DPP is to be commended for their vigilance, Department rules on shoreline setbacks has been a “one size fits all” approach to shoreline management for a long time. Retaining walls are not even considered for minor shoreline structure permits under the current regulations, in spite of the fact that such retaining walls could be a tool to control soil erosion by way of terraced landscaping. Rather than take a serious look at the suggestion that retaining walls could have a positive effect on the environment if designed in accordance with standardized specifications, DPP has been directing property owners to apply for extremely costly and time consuming variances instead. I heard from property owners who have been trying for decades to obtain a variance that would allow them to stabilize their shoreline and prevent the steady loss of ground, some of them at the mercy of a neighboring illegal seawall. Rather than find relief, they have been tied up in red tape and even in court, in an attempt to meet the astringent conditions imposed by the Department. It is a complicated legal process out of reach for many land owners, especially families of modest means on the windward side who have experienced years of continuous erosion of their property but lack the resources to pursue a variance. Bill 17 seeks to make the rules more responsive to people while it also helps to protect the marine environment. It is time to get real about the true purpose of the law and exactly what is was designed to serve and protect.

Recognizing April 2014 as Sexual Assault Awareness Month

28 03 2014
In recognition of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

In recognition of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

Honored guests and members of our armed forces from all branches of the military were on hand for the ceremony.

Honored guests and members of our armed forces from all branches of the military were on hand for the ceremony.

Council Chair Ernest Martin was the emcee for the Sexual Assault Awareness Month Proclamation and Certificate Ceremony.

Council Chair Ernest Martin was the emcee for the Sexual Assault Awareness Month Proclamation and Certificate Ceremony.

Council Chair Ernest Martin, Councilmember Carol Fukunaga, and Councilmember Breene Harimoto honored groups that provide services to victims of sexual assault, and Mayor Kirk Caldwell through a proclamation declared April 2014 as Sexual Assault Awareness Month on Thursday, March 27, at 3:30 p.m. in the Mission Memorial Auditorium. The memorandum specifies certain efforts that both legislative bodies will undertake to increase activities with each other.

The month of April has been designated Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM), recognizing the importance of increasing the general awareness and support for agencies providing services to sexual assault victims. Sexual assault is a growing epidemic in our community. According to the American Medical Association, a “woman is raped every 46 seconds in the United States” and that sexual assault is a “silent epidemic.”

Organizations like the Resource Sharing Project (RSP) and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) have spearheaded efforts to enlighten the community by partnering with state, territory, and tribal coalitions in bringing awareness to the growing problem. By promoting a degree of national unity in voice, coordinating action regarding SAAM activities, encouraging interaction and feedback from across the nation, and building momentum based on previous years’ activities, NSVRC has brought a greater focus on prevention.

Locally, the Hawaii Coalition Against Sexual Assault leads the way in supporting sexual assault programs and agencies which provide sexual assault intervention, treatment and/or prevention services. The Hawaii Coalition Against Sexual Assault acknowledges the critical role of organizations like the Honolulu Sex Abuse Treatment Center and the military sexual assault programs in providing essential services to sexual assault victims. These programs serve Hawaii’s diverse communities and confront this silent epidemic year round.

The Honolulu City Council recognizes and commends the following programs for their dedication and commitment to providing services and support to survivors and working to prevent sexual violence:

• The Sex Abuse Treatment Center
• U.S. Army Sexual Harassment/Assault Response & Prevention Program
• U.S. Navy Sexual Assault Prevention & Response Program
• U.S. Marine Corps Sexual Assault Prevention & Response Program
• U.S. Coast Guard Sexual Assault Prevention & Response Program
• Hawaii Army National Guard Sexual Harassment/Assault Response & Prevention Program
• U.S. Air Force Sexual Assault Prevention & Response Program
• Hawaii Air National Guard Sexual Assault Prevention & Response Program

The Honolulu City Council urges everyone in our community to become involved in the fight to end sexual violence and to unite with us in working toward a future where all women, men and children can live free from sexual violence and exploitation.

Last Day to Vote for Haleiwa as the Happiest Seaside Town

27 03 2014

Haleiwa Town is one of the ten finalists in Coastal Living magazine’s Happiest Seaside Town 2014. Voting ends today! You can vote every hour until March 31, 11:59 EST (5:59 p.m. HST). Votes are limited to one per IP address and the results will be revealed in their 2014 July/August issue.

Click Here to Vote.

Chigasaki City and Honolulu Establish a Formal Friendship Relationship

25 03 2014

A delegation from Chigasaki City, Kanagawa, Japan traveled to Honolulu to witness the adoption of Resolution 14-27 by the Honolulu City Council.  The resolution establishes a council friendship relationship between the Chigasaki City Assembly and the City Council of the City and County of Honolulu. It is the first step leading to a sister council relationship which will foster a legislative association between the two cities.

Both municipalities face common issues such as loss of beaches to erosion and an aging population. Chigasaki City embraces Hawaiian culture. They host the Aloha Market, which focuses on topics related to Hawaii; the Shonan Festival with the motto, “Savor Hawaiian atmosphere in Chigasaki;” and the World Invitational Hula Festival, which focuses on hula and Hawaiian culture. Chigasaki has over 100 hula halau and more than 30 surfboard shops. The Chigasaki museum also houses one of the oldest surfboards made in Hawaii from the 1920s.

Known as the “Aloha Assembly,” the Chigasaki City municipal assembly also dons aloha shirts during the summer months each year and the pace of life in Chigasaki is much like our island-lifestyle.

Council Chair Ernest Martin welcomes the opportunity to foster a legislative, cultural and educational relationship with the Chigasaki City Assembly.

60th Annual Kunia Orchid Show

24 03 2014

The 60th Annual Kunia Orchid Show, a three day event at Leilehua High School was held this past weekend on March 21st, 22nd, and 23rd. The show features a wonderful selection of orchids, cacti, succulents, bonsai and more on display and for sale. Trophies were awarded for orchids in different categories and color such as cattleya, dendrobium, phalaenopsis, vanda, and honohono.

Ukuwai Street Modifications

22 03 2014

Ukuwai StreetSerious safety concerns were brought to Council Chair Ernie Martin’s attention in the vicinity of Cornerstone Fellowship and the Park and Ride in Mililani Mauka.  It was reported that speeding along Ukuwai Street had resulted in a number of near misses and at least one accident.  A request for investigation and service report was submitted to address the issue.  In response, the City’s Department of Transportation Services (DTS) conducted a traffic survey, field observations and a review of the area’s traffic collision history.

The information gained through the investigation revealed that there is speeding on Ukuwai Street.  To address the concern, DTS will be issuing a work order to narrow the travel way from 20 feet to 10 feet in each direction by demarcating a shoulder/parking lane on Ukuwai Street between the Mililani District Park westerly boundary, which is the city limit and Makaikai Street.  Street parking will be retained while the narrowing effect should help to deter speeding in the area. Stop signs are installed at locations where there is a need for more restrictive right-of-way assignment and are not to be used for speed control.  Based on the volume of daily traffic, neither speed humps nor speed tables are appropriate traffic control measures for Ukuwai Street.

Council Chair Martin thanks community members for bringing this concern to his attention and the City’s Department of Transportation Services’ for their efforts and plans to address the situation. Since receiving the initial reports of concerns for safety in the area, Mililani Mauka residents who regularly traverse Ukuwai Street during peak morning hours have contacted his office with their own accounts of safety concerns including near misses and accidents resulting from the tendency of motorists to drive to the extreme right of the roadway to create an additional lane.  Chair Martin is hopeful that the proposal by DTS to narrow the roadway will address these concerns and provide for safe travel for motorists and pedestrians alike.


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