Tax Advisory Commission Calls for Public Input as It Reviews City Real Property Tax System

1 09 2017

The 2017 Oahu Real Property Tax Advisory Commission is calling for the public’s input as it conducts a comprehensive review of the City’s real property tax system. The Commission must submit written recommendations to the City Council by December 1, 2017.

“The public’s input is critical to this process if we are to fulfill our mission,” said Commission Chair Dennis Oshiro. “I believe all property owners have a perspective on how we can improve the system and we are actively seeking their advice.

Real property taxes are the primary source of revenue for the City and County of Honolulu. The tax system features various classes of property, as well as numerous exemptions and credits, which must be reviewed periodically to ensure that the system is as equitable and efficient as possible, Oshiro added.

In 2011 the City Council created the Oahu Real Property Tax Advisory Commission to advise and assist the Council by conducting a biennial review of the City’s real property tax system. The last report from the Commission was in November 2014.

In May the Council adopted Resolution 17-112 reestablishing the Commission and requiring that it issue a new report by December 1. The 2017 Commission met for the first time in July. Its next meeting is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, September 14, 2017, in the City Council Committee Room on the second floor of Honolulu Hale.
The public is encouraged to submit oral and written testimony. Written testimony may be sent to Commission aide Todd Swisher via e-mail at

New proposals to legalize vacation rentals, hike taxes and fines

14 06 2017

Some say it’s the lack of city enforcement, and the practice of letting scofflaws off easy on fines that has changed the landscape of vacation rentals on Oahu. Bitter battles have been long fought …

Source: New proposals to legalize vacation rentals, hike taxes and fines

Share Your Ideas With The Charter Commission

27 06 2016


Agenda for the Monday, June 27th meeting.

Agenda for the Wednesday, June 30th meeting.

Agenda for the Friday, July 1st meeting.

Agenda for the Wednesday, July 6th meeting will be added when the Charter Commission posts their agenda.

Chinatown Senior Housing Project Needs Public Vetting

17 02 2016

In Tuesday’s editorial, “Don’t Block Chinatown Senior Housing Project,” the Honolulu Star Advertiser did not consider all of the circumstances surrounding the proposed development before passing judgment.

The Honolulu City Council first adopted a resolution requesting the mayor to come up with a Special Area Plan for Chinatown in January of 2010. In June of that year, the City Council adopted ordinance 10-12 (Bill 16 (2010), CD2) that further directed the mayor to create an affordable housing project on River Street. That was six years ago!

When the mayor sent out a press release on November 9th of last year announcing the $49 million development agreement, it was the first time that we learned that a developer was selected and negotiations completed.  Given that the Council did not have committee meetings in December, the earliest this proposal could have been considered was last month. Additionally, our February 17th meeting is scheduled at Kapolei Hale, a location that may limit public participation from the Chinatown community on this matter.

Given these facts, to assert that the Council may have scuttled the development by stalling for political purposes is false and misleading.

The Chinatown community is passionate and the views they represent should be heard before the full council, a position that Councilmember Carol Fukunaga has vigorously advocated for. It would be irresponsible to fast track a $49 million project without having such a public on-the-record discussion.

Public Ownership of Electric Utility

4 09 2015

Here is a link to Council Chair Ernest Martin’s resolution 15-214 regarding the Council’s intent to consider all options regarding the provision of electric service, including the investigation of municipal or cooperative public ownership on the island of Oahu.

Ban on Plastic Bags to Take Effect Next Summer

10 10 2014

plastic bagsIn the early months of 2012, I introduced Bill 10 which was heard by the City Council on February 15th and referred to the Committee on Public Works and Sustainability for review. At the time, I was optimistic that we could find common ground on the universal problem of plastic bags. Honolulu was the only county in the State that had no regulation on bags distributed to retail and wholesale customers to carry merchandise from the checkout. Bill 10 was drafted to impose a ban on all non-recyclable paper and non-biodegradable plastic bags.

The US Environmental Protection Agency reported that plastics made up more than 12% of the country’s municipal solid waste stream, a dramatic increase from the 1% reported in 1960. The manufacture of non-biodegradable plastic bags diverts millions of barrels of crude oil from other uses, increasing the cost of those uses of the fuel.

Testimony in support of the ban was matched by opposition. Environmental groups generally supported the ban and retailers did not. Claiming that recyclable paper bags are up to ten times more expensive than plastic, the Retail Merchants of Hawaii testified that for every truck that delivers plastic bags, seven trucks are needed to deliver the same number of paper bags. Inherently more expensive to manufacture and ship to Hawaii, the higher cost of paper bags would surely be passed on to the consumers. They called for a 10-cent fee on single-use bags that would both cover the cost of the bag and discourage its use by the public.

Although I believe we should continue to promote reuseable bags as the ultimate solution to the problem, I did not support a fee as a way to regulate single use bags. Banning all non-recyclable paper bags and non-biodegradable plastic bags, Bill 10 was passed by the City Council in April of 2012 with an effective date of July 1, 2015. The time between was meant to give the merchants time to adjust to the ban by using up remaining supplies of non-conforming paper or plastic bags before the law took effect.

The Department of Environmental Services was charged with establishing the implementation of Bill 10, now Ordinance 12-8.   But unable to identify a clear and reliable industry standard to meet the definition of “biodegradable” defined in the law, the Department supported a total ban on all plastic bags as proposed in Bill 38, introduced last April. Unlike the confusion over the standards for bio-degradable bags, compostable bags must meet the clear standards of ASTM International, the nonprofit formerly known as the American Society for Testing and Materials. I introduced an amendment to the bill to allow for the use of compostable bags. Plastic bags will still be allowed for loose items such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, coffee, candy, or small hardware items, and for frozen foods, meat or fish, flowers or plants, medications, newspaper, laundry and pet items.

Bill 38 was signed into law on September 24th and bags meeting the definition of “compostable” will still be allowed, as will all non-plastic bags, including paper and cloth. Although environmental groups would have preferred banning compostable bags, they called the ban on biodegradables “a step in the right direction.” I hope that we will one day depend totally on environmentally responsible reuseable bags to carry home our groceries.


Council Chair Ernie Martin and Councilmember Ann Kobayashi Introduce Resolution to Aid Homeowners

31 07 2014


News Release - Resolution 14-179See resolution here: Resolution 14-179.