In Oahu Division, Refuse

By: Gordon Pang; Star Advertiser; March 29, 2018

A bill creating a monthly $5 charge for curbside trash pickup cleared its first hurdle at the Honolulu City Council on Wednesday but still has a long way to go.

If the measure is approved, the fee would go into effect for homeowners on Jan. 1. It would net the city an additional $5.8 million during the six remaining months of the fiscal year, and then $11.6 million every ensuing year.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell said he introduced Bill 19 in hopes of freeing up cash in the $2.61 billion operating budget for other purposes. Until now, the cost of curbside pickup service on Oahu has been borne by the operating budget, which is mostly funded through real property taxes.

Oahu is the only one of the four counties not to charge for trash pickup. Maui and Kauai counties charge, while Hawaii County does not provide curbside refuse pickup.

No one testified on the bill Wednesday, and none of the Council members voted against the bill, although Councilman Brandon Elefante voted “yes” with reservations.

The measure now goes to the Budget Committee with the rest of the budget package.

Last year Caldwell proposed a $10-a-month charge for trash pickup. That bill was shelved by the Budget Committee in April.

Also Wednesday, the Council voted 5-3 to pass Resolution 17-175 on final reading, giving the Hawaii Ocean Plaza hotel-condominium on Kapiolani Boulevard a key permit.

The 400-foot tower is slated to have 216 homes and 175 hotel units, as well as restaurants and retail space. In exchange for being allowed to go higher than the area’s current 250-foot height limit and to have a higher density, developer California Investment Regional Center will rent 33 residential units to Hawaii households making no more than 80 percent of Oahu’s annual area median income for 30 years.

Council members Brandon Elefante, Joey Manahan and Ron Menor voted against the measure. Elefante said the bonus height and density allowances the developer received amount to “nearly 300,000 square feet more of density.” As a result, he said, “I feel that there could have been more affordable housing units provided. … Remember, more height and more density equals more units, which ultimately equals more profit.”

But Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi, who represents the region, and Zoning Chairwoman Kymberly Pine defended the number of units, now that they are on-site rentals, rather than sales units, that will be of equal size and have the same amenities as market units in the same building.

The Council also voted Wednesday to approve Resolution 18-50, urging the Caldwell administration to reconsider concerns about its Ala Moana Regional Park Master Plan that have been raised by park regulars.

The biggest complaint has been about plans to expand the sidewalk between Ala Moana Park Drive and the beach to create a pedestrian promenade, which would result in the removal of parking stalls along the makai side of the road.

Opponents of the plan on Wednesday reiterated their argument that removing makai side parking causes a hardship, particularly for the elderly, those with children or those with disabilities. They also argue that the park setup is fine as it is, and that the promenade will be an attraction not to current regulars but to residents of recently completed luxury condominiums in the Kakaako-Ala Moana region.

Caldwell said last week that he is not wedded to the promenade idea and would withhold a final decision until an environmental impact statement is completed. Meanwhile, members of the Budget Committee last week threatened to withhold funding for the promenade.

A bill creating a monthly $5 charge for curbside trash pickup cleared its first hurdle at the Honolulu City Council on Wednesday but still has a long way to go.

If the measure is approved, the fee would go into effect for homeowners on Jan. 1. It would net the city an additional $5.8 million during the six remaining months of the fiscal year, and then $11.6 million every ensuing year.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell said he introduced Bill 19 in hopes of freeing up cash in the $2.61 billion operating budget for other purposes. Until now, the cost of curbside pickup service on Oahu has been borne by the operating budget, which is mostly funded through real property taxes.

Oahu is the only one of the four counties not to charge for trash pickup. Maui and Kauai counties charge, while Hawaii County does not provide curbside refuse pickup.

No one testified on the bill Wednesday, and none of the Council members voted against the bill, although Councilman Brandon Elefante voted “yes” with reservations.

The measure now goes to the Budget Committee with the rest of the budget package.

Last year Caldwell proposed a $10-a-month charge for trash pickup. That bill was shelved by the Budget Committee in April.

Also Wednesday, the Council voted 5-3 to pass Resolution 17-175 on final reading, giving the Hawaii Ocean Plaza hotel-condominium on Kapiolani Boulevard a key permit.

The 400-foot tower is slated to have 216 homes and 175 hotel units, as well as restaurants and retail space. In exchange for being allowed to go higher than the area’s current 250-foot height limit and to have a higher density, developer California Investment Regional Center will rent 33 residential units to Hawaii households making no more than 80 percent of Oahu’s annual area median income for 30 years.

Council members Brandon Elefante, Joey Manahan and Ron Menor voted against the measure. Elefante said the bonus height and density allowances the developer received amount to “nearly 300,000 square feet more of density.” As a result, he said, “I feel that there could have been more affordable housing units provided. … Remember, more height and more density equals more units, which ultimately equals more profit.”

But Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi, who represents the region, and Zoning Chairwoman Kymberly Pine defended the number of units, now that they are on-site rentals, rather than sales units, that will be of equal size and have the same amenities as market units in the same building.

The Council also voted Wednesday to approve Resolution 18-50, urging the Caldwell administration to reconsider concerns about its Ala Moana Regional Park Master Plan that have been raised by park regulars.

The biggest complaint has been about plans to expand the sidewalk between Ala Moana Park Drive and the beach to create a pedestrian promenade, which would result in the removal of parking stalls along the makai side of the road.

Opponents of the plan on Wednesday reiterated their argument that removing makai side parking causes a hardship, particularly for the elderly, those with children or those with disabilities. They also argue that the park setup is fine as it is, and that the promenade will be an attraction not to current regulars but to residents of recently completed luxury condominiums in the Kakaako-Ala Moana region.

Caldwell said last week that he is not wedded to the promenade idea and would withhold a final decision until an environmental impact statement is completed. Meanwhile, members of the Budget Committee last week threatened to withhold funding for the promenade.

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