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 DOWNTOWN NEIGHBORHOOD BOARD 

MINUTES OF REGULAR MEETING

SEPTEMBER 4, 2003

PAUAHI COMMUNITY CENTER               _ 

CALL TO ORDER:  The meeting was called to order by Chair Lynne Matusow at 7:00 p.m.  A quorum was present. 

MEMBERS PRESENT:  Alvin Au, Dorothy Bona, Richard Brawley, Wendy Lam, Lynne Matusow, Dolores Fees Mollring, Tom Smyth, Stanford Yuen. 

MEMBERS ABSENT:  Karl Rhoads. 

GUESTS: Hal Daggett (Komeya Apts.), Burton White (Hawaii Theatre), Shawn Hamamoto (Councilmember Rod Tam’s Office), Jack Frick (Studio 1), Sgt. Brian West, Lt. Robert Green (HPD), Frellie Campos (Hawaii Pacific University), John Steelquist (Makiki/Lower Punchbowl/Tantalus Neighborhood Board No. 10), Christina Kemmer and Cindy McMillan (Communications Pacific); Eric Crispin, Patrick Seguirant, Joyce Shoji (Department of Planning and Permitting), Bob Midkiff, Carl Middleton, Masato Tochika, Scott Cheever, Marshall Hung, Vito Galati (Downtown Affordables), Stan Fujimoto (Housing and Community Development Corporation of Hawaii), Jose Villa and Nani Lee (Office of Hawaiian Affairs), Dean Chu (Neighborhood Commission Office staff). 

INTRODUCTION OF BOARD MEMBERS:  The members introduced themselves at this time.

REPORTS AND CONCERNS

HONOLULU FIRE DEPARTMENT – A representative from the Fire Department Central Station was not present.  It was noted there is a brush fire occurring at this time in Kalihi Valley and that the Central Station could be on the scene. 

HONOLULU POLICE DEPARTMENT – Chair Matusow thanked Major Tucker and Sgt. Axt for their assistance in planning the Weed and Seed community clean up on October 18.  They joined community members on three afternoon walks to scope out the clean up and Major Tucker had maps prepared.  Chair Matusow also thanked Lt. Grossi for the assistance of the day watch regarding the illegal peddlers on Kekaulike Mall and in Chinatown.  She noted that the area affected by the new anti-peddling law has resulted in the areas being cleared of illegal peddlers. 

Sgt. West reported the following: 

1.         A statistics report was distributed and noted that the figures are about the same as the previous month. 

2.         Wing Coffee has erected a fence on its property on Pauahi Street to deal with illegal activity in the area.  The security camera used by the Police Department has resulted in arrests.  The area continues to be monitored.  Chair Matusow noted that the building has been sold. 

3.         He check out the report of suspected illegal drug activity reported at a Nuuanu Avenue coffee house and worked with the owner who owns three such coffee houses.  No new drug activity has been seen since. 

4.          Approximately 20 – 25 of the security cameras are in operation at this time. 

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Questions, answers and comments followed: 

1.         Concern was expressed about HPD identifying which cameras are not working at Board meetings.  Follow up will be done. 

2.         The security camera on Kekaulike Mall is working. 

3.         Concern was expressed about drop calls to 911, which are calls made to 911, but no one answers when the 911 operator answers; and the resulting response by officers to the caller’s location; being due to possible incompletely dialing a number with 911 in the prefex and then hanging up.  Sgt. West noted that there may be a problem with the telephone company and also that drop calls also occur when calling China. 

4.         If a person is not satisfied with the service of a police officer, a supervisor can be requested. 

Sgt. West and Lt. Green were thanked for attending the meeting. 

Au and Smyth arrived during the above portion of the meeting. 

CITIZENS PATROL – Mollring reported the following: 

1.         The patrol has encountered no unusual activity. 

2.         The patrol’s route includes Pauahi Street, Hotel Street, the Chinatown Substation, and Nimitz Highway. 

3.         The patrol is aware of persons loitering in the Merchant and Queen Street area. 

Mollring was thanked for her report. 

SAFE HAVEN – No representative was present. 

HAWAII PACIFIC UNIVERSITY  - Frellie Campos reported the following: 

1.         The Fall Semester started this past Tuesday.

2.         Upcoming events on Ft. Street Mall include: a) Music on the Mall, this Friday, 1:00 – 3:00 p.m., b) Club Carnival, September 12, 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m., c)  pep rally to introduce the volleyball and cross country teams, October 3, 12:45 p.m. d) TGIF music programs every Friday. 

Questions, answers and comments followed: 

They have a shuttle for students living in Waikiki and connecting the Downtown and Windward campuses.

Campos was thanked for attending the meeting. 

ELECTED OFFICIALS

GOVERNOR’S OFFICE – Nelson Befitel was unable to attend the meeting, a written report was received and reviewed by Chair Matusow as follows: 

1.         Regarding State Department of Transportation crews using weed wackers® on Nimitz Highway on Saturday mornings at 6:00 a.m., two or three times a month, the wrong street was checked for this problem.  Smyth will follow up.

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2.         Regarding a request for the installation of more lights under the H-1 School Street overpass to deal with problems with the homeless, the area in question is privately-owned, and the matter would have to be directed to the property manager. 

3.         Regarding a request to trim shrubbery near K-Mart on Nimitz Highway, the State Department of Transportation did not find a problem. 

REPRESENTATIVE KEN HIRAKI – Representative Hiraki was unable to attend the meeting.  A written report was received and made available to interested persons. 

The report noted and Chair Matusow reported the U.S. Department of Justice approved the expansion of the Weed and Seed district.  She displayed a certificate marking this event dated July 30, and that local officials did not acknowledge this date. 

Hiraki’s report also lists the Weed and Seed Neighborhood Restoration: Planning Subcommitttee meeting, September 8, McKinley High School, 4:30 p.m. and the Neighborhood Restoration Committee meeting, September 29, location to be announced, 5:30 p.m. 

COUNCILMEMBER ROD TAM  - Shawn Hamamoto, from Councilmember Tam’s Office, distributed the monthly report. 

Questions, answers and comments followed: 

1.         Regarding the bill on bus fares, Council Draft 1 of the bill is available at this time.  Hamamoto had no information on any subsequent revisions to this bill. 

2.         Bill 46, relating to malls and tht operation of an outdoor café abutting a merchant’s establishment, is up for a committee hearing on September 9, 2:30 p.m. 

3.         No specific information was available on the status of TheBus strike negotiations. 

Hamamoto was thanked for attending the meeting. 

MAYOR’S OFFICE – Au reported the following: 

1.         OTS, operators of TheBus, for the City, has a budget that uses 70 percent for salaries and the remainder for operating services.  The City Council is working on a fare increase. 

2.         The City is operating a shuttle van service, Monday through Fridays, 6:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., from Chinatown Gateway to the University of Hawaii Manoa campus, and several locations in Waikiki.  Vans run every 10 minutes. 

3.         Aloha Week Ho’olaule’a, September 12, 6:00 – 10:30 p.m.  Streets will be closed.  The parade through Waikiki will be held on September 13. 

4.         Inspectors checked the lighting on Pauahi Street, in the area of Smith-Beretania Park and determined the lighting levels to be adequate. Construction on a lighting improvement for Pauahi, between Smith Street and Ft. Street Mall, is to begin later this year. 

5.         Windows at Pauahi Community Center will be repaired. 

6.         The irrigation system at Smith-Beretania Park will be rechecked due to a ponding problem on Beretania Street that occurs only when the park is being irrigated.

 

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7.         Leaf blowers will not be used at Kamalii Park on Sundays until after 7:00 a.m.  It was suggested that no work be done on holidays, but Au noted that the work has to be done.  It was also suggested that workers use brooms and rakes instead of leaf blowers. 

8.         The Downtown area is cleaned by City crews daily from 6:30 a.m. to 3:30 a.m. the next day. 

Questions, answers and comments followed: 

1.         Benches to be installed on Ft. Street Mall, mauka of Hotel Street, are still being shipped.  It was suggested that some of the benches makai of Hotel Street be moved to the mauka side in the interim. 

2.         White thanked the City for the street and sidewalk work at Bethel and Pauahi Streets near the Hawaii Theatre. 

3.         Concern was raised that sending a Fire Department ladder truck to assist a resident in getting from a home into a car compromises public safety since the ladder truck is now not available to respond to an emergency such as a fire.  Smyth noted that the fire department responds to such calls since it is more readily available than an ambulance and that the cost to the fire department is not that great. 

Au was thanked for his report. 

PUBLIC CONCERNS:  None. 

UNFINISHED BUSINESS

HAWAII THEATRE MARQUEE – Burton White, Hawaii Theatre manager, thanked the Board for its previous support of a variance for the marquee.  That variance was granted, and the theatre is seeking Board support for changes to the special provisions for the marquee.  Presently the electronic marquee can only be changed once every 24-hours.  The theatre is seeking to be able to change the marquee more frequently, noting the NBC (Neal Blaisdell Center’s) electronic marquee (at Ward Avenue and Kapiolani Boulevard) changes every 1.5 seconds.  The theatre is seeking a less strict regulation, something comparable to NBC. 

Discussion followed.  It was noted that NBC has just one marquee to announce events at its three venues. 

Mollring moved and Smyth seconded that the Board supports the Hawaii Theatre’s request for a rate of change for its marquee no more frequently that 1.5 – 5 seconds

Discussion followed, and Eric Crispin, Director, Department of Planning and Permitting, explained that his office placed the restriction to try and retain the historic character of the building and character of the area.  There is an appeal process that the Theatre can use. 

The motion carried unanimously

White was thanked for attending the meeting. 

FEDERAL RECOGNITION, PRESENTATION BY THE OFFICE OF HAWAIIAN AFFAIRS (OHA) – Jose Villa, from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, distributed informational packets to the Board members and interested guests.  Villa noted the packet contains a copy of the Federal 1993 Apology Bill signed into law in 1993, apologizing for the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii. 

Villa reported that of the native peoples of the United States, Native Americans and Alaskans, some 550 tribes have been recognized by the U.S. Government.  Native Hawaiians do not have, and want such recognition.   Existing treaties and laws are in place for such recognition. 

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The Akaka Bill would give Native Hawaiians self-determination, and OHA is working to facilitate the process, which would also protect Native Hawaiians’ assets and assure that they are represented in the process. 

If the recognition status is achieved, it would be similar to what already exists for the other native peoples.  However, lawsuits threaten the process, which if successful, would result in OHA and the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands being declared unconstitutional, ceded lands and revenue from those lands would revert to the State government, social programs for Native Hawaiians would be adversely affected, etc. 

Questions, answers and comments followed: 

1.         There is a Native Hawaiian parade through Waikiki this Sunday, and a festival at Kapiolani Park, 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. 

2.         The Akaka Bill is being stalled in Congress by senators from Arizona, Oklahoma, Alabana, and New Mexico.  One reason may be about concerns about undocumented aliens getting public services. 

3.         OHA has organized a letter writing campaign to senators from all 50 states on the bill. 

4.         The bill would not allow gambling. 

5.         This is a non-cost bill to the federal government. 

There was no Board action on this matter. 

Villa was thanked for attending the meeting. 

PROPOSED AMENDMENT TO THE LAND USE ORDINANCE, CHINATOWN SPECIAL DISTRICT, WHICH WOULD EXPAND THE CHINATOWN SPECIAL DISTRICT IN THE EWA DIRECTION, REDUCING THE HEIGHT LIMIT IN THAT AREA FROM 150/200 FEET TO 80 FEET; REDUCE THE AALA PARK HEIGHT LIMIT TO ZERO; AND PERMIT ONE AND TWO FAMILY DWELLINGS IN THE HISTORIC CORE PRECINCT ABOVE THE GROUND FLOOR – Eric Crispin, Director, Department of Planning and Permitting, and staffers Patrick Seguirant and Joyce Shoji, addressed the Board.  The proposed amendment to the Land Use Ordinance would: 1) expand the Chinatown Special District by 200 acres by extending the ewa boundary from Nuuanu Stream to Beretania, College Walk, Kaaahi Street, Awa Street, Nimitz Highway.  2) Reduce the 200 foot height limits of BMX zoned parcels to 80 feet, and of IMX zoned parcels from 150 to 80 feet. 3) Allow one and two family dwellings in loft spaces.  4) Reduce the height limit of Aala Park down to zero feet.  The area’s parcels are privately and State owned. 

The goal of the change is to protect the ewa entryway into Chinatown, preserving its view planes and allowing expansion of the Chinatown’s area in an ewa direction.  Tall buildings would remain in the background of the area.  The area presently has developable lands that includes parking lots. 

Allowing one and two family dwellings in second floor and above loft spaces would make use of space that is presently under utilized.  Development of such dwelling units would be eased due to the current exemption from parking requirements.  Brining more people into the area would help the area’s economy.  This type of residential development has been successfully done in Denver, Colorado. 

Questions, answers and comments followed: 

1.         The Board, landowners, property managers, the State’s Housing and Community Deveopment Corporation of Hawaii, all noted they did not receive notice of this plan prior to tonight’s meeting and learned about it in today’s Advertiser.  Chair Matusow said she learned of the plan from a community member who attended a City presentation and thanked Barbara Moon and Joyce Shoji for getting information to Board members prior to tonight.  She added that as of tonight she had still not received formal notification from the City.   Crispin apologized for the failure to provide adequate notice.

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2.         The City does not want to preclude development in this area.  There are many possible development scenarios. 

3.         This plan would  affect the State Housing and Development Corporation’s elderly residential project at Iwilei Road and Kaaahi Street, housing project near the OR and L Building.  A representative from HCDC said they had applied for a 201-G exemption more than a year ago and had not heard from the City.  He said now knows why.  He also said the City Council had endorsed the housing project, a developer had been selected, and the Neighborhood Board has supported the project. 

4.         The plan seeks to assure preservation of the area’s character. 

5.         The height limit change for Aala Park would not affect existing structures, but is intended to keep the park as it is. 

6.         The State can request waivers from the height limits.  Only certain State agencies can exempt themselves from the height limits. 

7.         The existing zoning will not change.  IMX – light industrial, does not allow residential development. 

8.         The State Housing and Development Corporation’s project would require a waiver from the height limit change. 

9.         The plan is not related to the Bus Rapid Transit plan. 

10.     Residential use of loft space has been proposed for years.  Several guests supported this type of development. 

11.     The Chinatown Special District once had a 40 foot height limit, but changes were made that allowed development such as the Marin Tower. 

12.     There is a need to preserve the entryway into Chinatown from the koko head end. 

13.     The change would result in the loss of developable space.  The floor area ratio could be changed to compensate. 

14.     The change is a taking of development rights of landowners. 

15.     The change would impact Downtown Affordables’ 23-story, 251-unit project at 215 N. King Street.  A representative said affordable housing cannot be built at 80 feet. 

16.     Architectural design is not specified in the proposed changes, but projects in the District go before a seven member review panel made up of architects, landscape architects, and a historic preservationist. 

17.     The current law allows for 200 foot building at Nimitz and Nuuanu, reducing the view plan from the harbor. 

18.     Several years ago the City proposed a change in the Development Plan which would have added a parking lot across from Aala Park to Aala Park.  Both the Downtown and Kalihi-Palama Neighborhood Boards opposed the plan, which died.  The plan also would have moved the Smith-Beretania Park to the expanded Aala Park site. 

19.     Few housing units will further hurt Chinatown businesses which have suffered from SARS and TheBus strike.  Chinatown residents are keeping those businesses afloat.  With an expanded district 

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more retail space would be required and lower height limits will not provided a critical population mass.  There is a limit as to how many tomatoes, cabbages, etc., neighbors can buy at a time. 

Mollring moved and Lam seconded that the Board supports the loft portion of the proposed amendment to the Land Use Ordinance.  Discussion followed.  The motion carried unanimously.  

Smyth moved and Mollring seconded that the Board not support the expansion at this time.  Discussion followed.  The motion carried, 6-2.  Au and Brawley opposed. 

COUNCIL BILL NO. 55, RELATING TO NIGHT CLOSURE OF PARKS – Chair Matusow reported that this bill is similar to one proposed by Councilmember Okino last year, and that the Board opposed it.  Discussion followed on the desirability for each community to determine for itself, whether or not their parks should be closed at night.  Smyth moved and Mollring seconded that the Board oppose this bill.  The motion carried unanimously

SHOULD THE BOARD PUBLISH A NEWSLETTER – Chair Matusow reported that the Neighborhood Commission Office has cut the Board’s Publicity Budget for the newsletter, but that any shortfall can be made up from the Board’s other budgets, including the Refreshment Budget.  Discussion followed.  Lam moved and Yuen seconded that the Board publish a newsletter.  The motion carried unanimously

SHOULD THE BOARD CHANGE THE DATE OF THE NOVEMBER MEETING – Discussion followed on whether or not the Board should change the meeting date, based on members’ previous notification to the Chair that they would not be able to attend the meeting and that this might affect the Board’s ability to have a quorum present at the meeting.  A poll of members indicated that there would be a quorum present at both the October and November meetings.  The consensus was to keep the meeting dates as scheduled. 

APPROVAL OF MINUTES OF AUGUST 7, 2003 REGULAR MEETING – The following correction was made: 

            Page 3, under Hawaii Pacific University, it should read “…University – Mollring reported for …” 

Yuen moved and Bona seconded that the minutes be approved as corrected.  The motion carried unanimously.

COMMITTEE REPORTS, RECOMMENDATIONS, AND ACTION

CHAIR’S REPORT – Chair Matusow reported the following: 

LIQUOR LICENSES  - Notice has been received from the City Liquor Commission on an application by 1) Nakase International, dba Restaurant Benkei, to cater off their licenses premises at Pier 7, Hawaii Maritime Center, every Thursday through Tuesday, September 4 – December 30; 2) transfer of license from Dual Trading, Inc., to JNV, Inc. 

STREET CLOSURE – Nuuanu Avenue, from Hotel to Pauahi Streets, for the Beaujolais Nouveau Festival, a wine tasting event, Thursday, November 20, 6:00 p.m. 

CERTIFICATE OF NEED FROM QUEENS MEDICAL CENTER – Notice has been received regarding a change to reduce 10 medical/surgical beds and 20 psychiatric beds. 

ITEMS FOR FUTURE AGENDAS – Possible items for future agendas include a Nuuanu Avenue condominium, a downtown trolley proposal. 

OTHER – Notice has been received 1) Material from the Board of Water Supply regarding a water main project on Pali Highway, between Beretania and Kukui Streets and on Queen Emma Street, between Beretania and School Streets; 2) letter from Manny Menedez, City Office of Ecomonic Development, regarding the Sister City Program.  Smyth noted that plans are to develop criteria to select sister cities.  No Board members were interested in serving.

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TREASURER’S REPORT – Mollring reported for the month of July, the Operating Account balance is $1480.36, the Publicity Account balance is $1440.00, and the Refreshment Account balance is $120.00. 

NEIGHBORHOOD COMMISSION – Chair Matusow reported the final draft of the proposed revisions to the Neighborhood Plan are to be completed soon to be submitted to the City Corporation Counsel for review. 

STATE AFFAIRS  - Smyth reported that the Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism, and the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts, are working on a Capitol Historic District.  Plans are for the district to run between Victoria and River Streets, and be used for marketing purposes. 

CITY AFFAIRS – Board members reported the following: 

FT. STREET MALL  - The open market is held on Tuesdays and Fridays, and while it seems to be a good event, it does adversely impact Chinatown merchants.  It also provides a legal place for peddlers previously displaced from Chinatown by a new law. 

The Business Improvement District has indicated its support of a City Council bill to permit cafés on malls.  The Board has also supported the bill. 

PELE STREET MINI PARK – The State Board of Land and Natural Resources has approved the transfer of the property from the State to the City.  Federal approval is still needed. 

There were no other reports. 

ANNOUNCEMENTS

The next regular meeting of the Board is October 2, 2003, Pauahi Community Center, 7:00 p.m. 

ADJOURNMENT:  The meeting was adjourned at 9:31 p.m. 

Submitted by, 

Dean Chu

Neighborhood Assistant

 

 

 

Note: Minutes are subject to approval at the next meeting.

 

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

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