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Returning our Investment

We need to support the immediate opening of the rail to deliver a finished product to the people of the city and county of Honolulu.

Background

  • In November 2012, The Federal Transit Authority notified congress that it would be signing a $1.55 Billion full funding grant agreement with the City and County of Honolulu.
  • In 2015 the Hawaii State Legislature extended the GET surcharge to fund the rail. In 2017 the legislature extended the GET and increased the TAT to fund the rail. In 2019, the city council is required to fund $214 million annually towards rail construction per the 2018 rail recovery plan.
  • The 2022 HART recovery plan was submitted to the FTA suggesting deferring the Pearl Highlands parking garage, proposing a mauka shift in the airport corridor, and ending the rail at the civic center 1.25 miles short of Ala Moana.

Need

  • We can’t keep investing and investing in infrastructure that no one is utilizing and is not benefiting the residents of O’ahu. The continued spending of money on rail is not justified without ridership or revenue creation.
  • The expectation of investment is a return and our efforts should focus on bringing the biggest return to the potential riders of the rail including but not limited to university students, airport workers, and Aloha Stadium guests.
  • In the portion that is opened, there needs to be real talks about how to build around the rail to bring in revenue for operations and never have to raise taxes on the residents for the rail.
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Keeping Housing Affordable

I will support the immediate structural reform of the Department of Planning and Permitting including the dedication of council attention and funding.

Background

  • An Audit of the Department of Planning and Permitting’s Processes for Reviewing Building Permit Applications was published in January 2020 which outlined specific steps to streamline the departmental processes
  • In the 2022-2023 budget the Department of Planning and Permitting requested $15 million of Federal Reserve Funds (FRF) to purchase new software and hire a consultant to create written departmental procedures
  • Submitted building permit applications are taking around 134 days on average to evolve from the pre-screen process. 

Need

  • The timeliness of legally obtaining a permit can increase the costs of residential homes due to delays and volatile costs of building materials.
  • The city received $198 million in the first and second traunch of federal funds and the money to purchase software needed to be released and encumbered months ago.
  • Start up the city certification process so there are more qualified people and firms that understand the necessary permitting codes. Require all screening and reviewers in DPP to take the certification test so that the applicant and the approver are speaking the same language which will expedite the process. 
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Keeping Homes Livable

I will support the expedition of all residential permits to help local families keep their homes livable and operational.

Background

  • On August 11, 2022, DPP reported 3,499 applications in the initial processing or pre-screen phase, and 4,780 permits in Plans Review with DPP plan examiners.
  • Solar can decrease electricity costs. Residents are required to apply for a permit to install solar. Electricity costs have risen 7% due to the rise in gas prices and the closing of the last coal plant in Kalaeloa.
  • The Department of Planning and Permitting requires permits for residential home improvements for any work of more than $1000.

Need

  • Create a separate line for commercial, residential, and agricultural permits. Each type of permit has different requirements i.e. homes waiting for solar should have a simple process to be approved quickly.
  • Allow licensed and certified third-party reviewers to clear up the prescreen backlog. The prescreen is a checklist that should be completed quickly and the department should resolve small edits via zoom etc.
  • The threshold for home renovation should be higher and local families should be able to do a reasonable and safe amount of work on their own property while following all codes and laws.
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Keeping Residents Home

I will support month to month rentals for local families, more workforce housing, and actively help fill city job vacancies.

Background

  • The City and County of Honolulu had an average net loss of 3,365 people per year from July 1, 2010, to July 1, 2019 period. 
  • In Honolulu, area prices were up 1.9% from a year ago. The largest increases were found in Transportation, Food, and Housing.
  • The cost of Living in Honolulu, HI is 58.8% higher than the national average.

Need

  • Local residents should be allowed to rent to other local residents for 30 days in accordance with the landlord-tenant code. 
  • “Affordable Housing” is not affordable for working families. We need more workforce housing to help local families stay in Hawaii.
  • There are 3,079 vacant positions in the city and we need to get local families into these jobs to provide for their families.
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Keeping Food a Priority

I will create a funded policy to support a collaborative partnership with the farm bureau that stimulates agriculture and advances us towards food sustainability.

Background

  • Hawaii is located approximately 2,506 miles from the continental United States.
  • Replacing just 10% of the food we currently import would cost approximately $313 million. 
  • Hawaii is self-sufficient in some vegetable and fruit crops but has become less self-sufficient in eggs, milk, livestock, hogs, and pigs. 

Need

  • An investment in programs, projects, and infrastructure which support greater food self-sufficiency will result in economic, social, and environmental benefits. 
  • The city has a department of emergency management and food sustainability is one of the most important things we can do to prepare for natural disasters and support our communities.
  • There are very few egg farms left on O’ahu and I have one of the last local egg farms on O’ahu.
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Keeping Open Lands

I will support farmers and agricultural tourism as a way to keep open lands.

Background

  • Bill 10 related to use regulation was introduced on February 22, 2022, and had some changes for agricultural farming land.
  • Farming has decreased over the last decades on O’ahu and during COVID some farms completely shut down.
  • Oahu has the smallest total acreage of land being used for farming aside from Kahoolawe.

Need

  • We live on an island where 85-90% of our food is imported. Legislation and policy should be passed that support our farmer’s needs to produce more food.
  • Farmers are struggling to keep their farms open and supporting farm tours not only helps farms stay open but educates others on the reality and importance of food sustainability.
  • In my district, Kahuku Farms is one example of a parcel of land growing food for the local community, raising young farmers, and creating jobs for community members through their food services.
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Keeping Residents Informed

I will propose that “Resolution 22-123 Urging the administration to have an annual educational property tax campaign” be maximized for the benefit of the residents.

Background

  • Resolution 22-123 was passed on May 17, 2022, and the city administration has put information in the newspaper, spoken at realtors forums, done a press release, and put out social media posts.
  • The annual deadline for qualifying residential property owners to file claims for real property tax home exemptions is September 30 the year preceding the tax year for which the exemption will apply.
  • There are 372,646 homes per the last US Census which require an extensive amount of outreach to the local residents of Honolulu.

Need

  • More education for Hawaii residents on how to correctly apply for exemptions could result in a more affordable property tax assessment.
  • The council members should hold annual town halls in every community to help with informing the general public.
  • Elected officials are responsible for creating policies that will stimulate the economic well-being of our residents so they don’t have to leave Hawaii.
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Keeping Kupuna Housed

I will propose that the property tax home exemption brackets start at $140,000 for residents under 60 years old, create a new category of a $180,000 exemption for residents 61-70 years old, and a kupuna category for 70 years and older of a $200,000 exemption.

Background

  • Residential property taxes are determined by adding the net taxable land & building value, dividing it by 1,000, and then multiplying it by the tax rate of $3.50.
  • Currently, the property tax homeowner and occupant exemptions start at $100,000 for 65 and under and $140,000 for 65 and older.
  • In July 2021, the Oahu Real Property Tax Advisory Commission reported that out of a total of approximately 156,000 property tax exemptions granted by the City for Fiscal Year 2021-22, 148,839 were home exemptions and 42 percent were from residential properties. 

Need

  • Many kupuna live on a fixed income and rising property taxes aren’t sustainable for their budget.
  • If kupuna are able to keep their houses and lands, they can pass them on to future generations and keep families in Hawaii.
  • In a resident’s golden years, they should not be faced with the stress of working just to stay in their home.
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Keeping Farmers Farming

I will work together with the Farm Bureau to start an infrastructure co-op for the upstart and needs of farmers.

Background

  • The cost of housing is much higher than a farm worker’s income and therefore farming workforce housing would help to incentivize farm operations.
  • The 14-member Hawaii Food Hub Hui which acts as a small farmer-focused food aggregator was created to help local farmers.
  • In February 2022, local nonprofit Hawaii Investment Ready launched a new Hawaii Food Systems Accelerator program to increase food security.

Need

  • Farmers should be at the core of all policy decisions on agricultural legislation and guide appropriate infrastructure investment.
  • We need to support workforce housing for farm workers if we want farms to increase their operations and ability to provide food to local communities.
  • To increase the production of locally grown foods, the city needs to help improve agricultural infrastructure including agricultural parks, irrigation systems, and distribution systems/facilities.
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Keeping Families Housed

I will propose that property taxes should not rise infinitely with the rising cost of homes in Hawaii and the administration should have public hearings to disclose how much revenue was increased and if tax rates should be adjusted.

Background

  • In 2021-2022 roughly $1.45B was raised in Honolulu City and County property tax income and 60% or $870 million was from residential taxes. It is estimated that $1.5B will be collected in 2022- 2023.
  • Property taxes in all categories are the primary source of revenue for the city and the residential property taxes bring in more revenue when property valuations rise and less revenue when property valuations decrease.
  • There is no broad public disclosure of residential property tax revenue increases from year to year leaving the general public in the dark about whether tax rates should be lowered.

Need

  • There needs to be a fair way of calculating property taxes because rising home valuations are out of the homeowners’ control.
  • As the cost of living rises in Hawaii is it impossible to keep up with unknown property tax increases due to the rise in home valuation.
  • We need to provide stability in local family budgeting by not having to guess how much higher their property taxes will be every year.