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Palolo Neighborhood Board Meeting July 2017 Minutes
REGULAR MEETING MINUTES
WEDNESDAY, JULY 12, 2017
PALOLO ELEMENTARY SCHOOL CAFETERIA
CALL TO ORDER: Chair Pro Tem Randolph Hack called the meeting to order at 7:04 p.m. A quorum was not established with six (6) members present. Note - This 13-member board requires seven (7) members to establish a quorum and to take official Board action.
Board Members Present: Randolph Hack, Beverly Mau, Earl Shiraki, Darlene Nakayama, Barbra J. Armentrout, Joshua Frost.
Board Members Absent: Paul Holtrop, Mark Leo, Rusti Onishi, Bradley Rentz.
Guests: Lieutenant Clifford Ramson (Honolulu Police Department); Captain Frank Sanchez (Honolulu Fire Department); Director Ross Sasamura (Mayor Kirk Caldwell's Representative/Department of Facility Maintenance); Dominic Dias (Board of Water Supply); Cliff Kaneshiro (Councilmember Ann Kobayashi's Office); House Speaker Emeritus Calvin Say; Senator Les Ihara Jr.; Cat Awakuni Colon (State of Hawaii, Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs DCCA); James Nekota (Palolo Council); Jodi Malinoski (Sierra Club); Romeo Reyes, Nikki Guess, Lauri Chivers, J. Chivers, James McDonough, T. Tomoto, Alan Low , Gail Low, Ivan Hoe, Shinsuko Uehara (Residents); Zoe Tanaka (Videographer); and Aran Wilson (Neighborhood Commission Office).
CITY MONTHLY REPORTS
Honolulu Fire Department (HFD): Captain Sanchez reported the following:
& #8226; June 2017 Fire Statistics: There was 1 activated alarm, 29 medical emergencies, 2 motor vehicle crash/collisions, and 2 mountain rescues.
& #8226; Fire Safety Tip: Working smoke alarms save lives by decreasing the risk of dying in a home fire in half. Smoke alarms should be installed and maintained in every home. Test smoke alarms at least once a month using the test button. If the smoke alarm has a nine (9) volt battery, change it annually. The entire smoke alarm should be replaced every 10 years.
Questions, comments and concerns followed: Emergencies: A resident asked a question about bringing his wife to the fire station in case of emergency, and Captain Sanchez informed him that yes he can, or he may call 911 and HFD will be the first to arrive on the scene.
Honolulu Police Department (HPD): Lieutenant Ramson reported the following:
& #8226; May 2017/June 2017 Crime Statistics: There were 3/4 motor vehicle thefts, 11/3 burglaries, 13/12 thefts, and 4/5 unauthorized entries into motor vehicles (UEMVs). There were 6,282 calls for service in June 2017.
& #8226; Safety Tip: Lieutenant Ramson distributed an information sheet about senior preparedness for the upcoming hurricane season. The link for that information can be found through the Department of Emergency Management's (DEM) website at https://www.honolulu.gov/rep/dem/Seniors_JUL17.pdf.
Questions, comments, and concerns followed:
1. Abandoned Vehicle Lots: Jake Chippers wanted to know when the City lots that hold abandoned vehicles will have the capacity to store more vehicles. Lieutenant Ramson responded that he is not aware of the current status of the storage capacity. When a violation is called in, HPD will mark the vehicle and return in 24 hours to cite accordingly. Lieutenant Ramson said he has been receiving many of these questions and will try to return with an answer.
2. Community Watch: Romeo Reyes wanted to know if there is a neighborhood watch established on Palolo Avenue near Q Real Estate. Nakayama responded that there is a neighborhood watch program in the area, and Lieutenant Ramson added that Reyes and other residents should visit http://www.honolulupd.org/community/index.php?page=CPT-D7 for more information on community policing in their district. Shiraki mentioned that it would be helpful to get his neighbors involved as well.
Board of Water Supply (BWS): Dominic Dias reported the following:
& #8226; Main Break Report June 2017: No report was available. Dias followed up on concerns about a patch on 9th Avenue and Hinahina Street from a former break, and will look into the matter.
& #8226; 29th Annual Halawa Xeriscape Gardens's Open House and Unthirsty Plant Sale: The event will take place on Saturday, August 5, 2017 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the Halawa Xeriscape Garden. More information can be found at www.boardofwatersupply.com.
Questions, comments and concerns followed:
1. Wells, Catchment, and Chlorination: A resident asked where the wells are located, if there are houses in Palolo Valley that still use water catchment, and the schedule for when the water is chlorinated. Dias responded that he will need to double check on exactly where the wells are located, and that some homes do use water catchment because they are too deep in the valley for BWS to service them. Dias answered that there is regularly scheduled monitoring, testing and chlorination of the reservoirs. Certain factors such as main breaks may lead to testing at irregular times.
2. Low Water Pressure: Alan Low has been having varying water pressure at his residence and wanted to know if that is normal. Dias asked for Low's address so he can check with the pumping station to see if there was work being done that could have caused the fluctuation.
FILLING OF VACANT BOARD SEATS: Due to lack of quorum, with no objection this item was deferred until the next meeting.
Councilmember Ann Kobayashi: Cliff Kaneshiro reported the following:
& #8226; Newsletter: Kaneshiro highlighted Councilmember Kobayashi's newsletter and noted hurricane tips for the upcoming season, schedules for the 2017 Summer Obon festivals, as well as honoring the Public Broadcasting Station (PBS) of Hawaii for over 50 years of broadcasting and storytelling excellence in Hawaii.
??? Certificate for Service: Kaneshiro presented a certificate to Chair Pro Tem Hack for his recent retirement from the Adult Mental Health Division (AMHD) of the State Department of Health (DOH) after more than 25 years of service.
Questions, comments and concerns followed:
1. Biki: Mau asked for an update on Biki, and Kaneshiro answered he will return with information on the program.
2. Thomas Square: A resident asked about the status of Thomas Square. Kaneshiro responded that there will be an informational meeting on Thursday, July 13, 2017 at the Neil Blaisdell Center at 6:00 p.m. discussing Thomas Square.
3. Palolo Valley Swimming Pool: Resident Jim McDonough inquired about the Palolo Valley District Park swimming pool that has been closed since Monday, April 10, 2017. Kaneshiro responded that construction work was done to some of the structures as well as finishing work on the showers. When work is completed it will be turned over to the Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) to open the facility. Kaneshiro did not have a specific date at the time, but will ask the appropriate departments for updates for the next meeting.
4. 10th Avenue Blend Line: Boardmember Shiraki requested reconsideration of the curvature of the blend line at the intersection of 10th Avenue and Waiomao Road. He asked for an adjustment of the blend line as it is too straight and needs to have an "arc" or curve for a smoother transition from Waiomao Road to 10th Avenue. Kaneshiro asked Shiraki to call his office with the details.
Mayor Kirk Caldwell's Representative: Department of Facility Maintenance (DFM) Director Ross Sasamura reported the following:
& #8226; Residential Use Dedication: Certain condominium owners may now consider dedicating their properties for Residential Use for a five (5) year period if their units are being used as a primary residence, or a long-term rental (longer than 30 days at a time). This option will allow the properties that are currently on land zoned as mixed use, hotel, or commercial, and whose Declaration of Condominium or Horizontal Property Regime specifically states that the unit is allowed to be used as residential, to be classified as Residential, and thereby eligible for the historically lower real property tax rate. On Friday, June 16, 2017, the Real Property Assessment Division will be mailing out letters and petition forms to approximately 8,000 owners whose properties may qualify for the dedication. If approved, the owner must commit to a five (5) year dedication, which is automatically renewable for additional five (5) year periods unless cancelled by either the property owner or the Director of Budget and Fiscal Services (BFS). Upon sale or transfer of the dedicated property, the dedication will continue for the remainder of the dedication, but will not be automatically renewed. Once expired, the dedication will be cancelled, and the new owner must file a new petition to dedicate in order to continue with the Residential Classification. Failure to observe the restrictions will result in a paramount lien upon the property, as well as rollback taxes and penalties. This Residential Use Dedication will replace any previous methods by which condominiums on non-residential zoned lands were allowed to be classified as Residential. Previously approved Declaration Regarding Condominium Use forms are deemed to be invalid. A Home exemption will no longer automatically qualify a property for a classification as Residential. The deadline to file this dedication is Friday, September 1, 2017. There will be no grace period or extension. Should you have any questions please contact our offices at (808) 768-3799.
& #8226; Honolulu Rail Project: Director Sasamura provided an update on Rail and clarified some of the questions surrounding the project and presented the City's plans:
o The General Excise Tax (GET) is the best way to pay for Rail:
Residents already pay it. The cost is spread out over each transaction, rather than at one (1) time like with real property tax. About 1/3 of GET is paid for by nonresidents. It is a steady stream of income that the Federal Transit Authority (FTA) has already approved. Transient Accommodations Tax (TAT) is volatile and revenue collected has dropped several times since the tax was implemented. The FTA has not vetted and approved TAT as a funding source. The City Council must pass an ordinance to further impose the county surcharge after the State grants the City the authority to do so. The State is not imposing the tax, it is a county tax. Contrast this with the TAT, which is a state tax.
o The goal is to get adequate funding to build all 21 stations and 20 miles of guideway to Ala Moana Center:
The projected construction cost estimate is $8.165 billion. This has not changed since last year, and this cost does not change in any total cost estimate. This number has been vetted by independent outsiders, including the FTA. This is our projection based on more conservative estimates than previous projections; however it is difficult to know exactly what will happen over the next 10 years.
o Financing cost estimates range from $800 million to $1.7 billion:
This amount changes and depends on the length of the GET extension and the maturity date of the bonds that the City issues. Shorter bond maturity equals cheaper financing costs, however the City must make higher monthly payments for the construction costs. Longer bond maturity equals more expensive financing costs, but City monthly payments are lower. It is similar to financing a house. A 30 year mortgage means lower monthly mortgage payments, but owners end up paying more due to the interest by the end of the 30 years. 15 year mortgages mean higher monthly payments, but owners end up paying less due to interest costs at the end of 15 years. The GET surcharge is half a percent. This means for every $1, the tax is half a penny. Remember that the Honolulu Authority for Rail Transit (HART) is responsible for the rail project and its costs, not the Mayor.
o Myths About Rail Technology:
Truth: Changing technology (maglev or at-grade) will trigger requirements for a supplemental environmental impact statement (EIS), which can take years. Each year of delay is estimated to cost $114 million.
Myth 1: We can switch from above-grade to at-grade from Middle Street to Ala Moana Center, using the same cars, and the FTA approves.
Truth: The FTA has never taken a position on changing from above-grade to at-grade.
Truth: Rail cars are wider than buses and cannot make it through certain streets.
Truth: Above-grade means that rail cars are going faster than cars in heavy traffic. Switching to at-grade means that the rail cars will go at the same speed as all the other cars in heavy traffic.
Truth: There is no driverless system with at-grade rail. There must be a driver who can stop the rail at intersections for pedestrian traffic and any other conflicts.
Truth: An at-grade system is dangerous for pedestrians. If a pedestrian steps on the power lines placed alongside the rail tracks ("electric third rail"), the person will be electrocuted. This will require additional fencing and will prohibit pedestrians and vehicles from crossing along the rail line. An elevated guideway allows everyone to pass under the tracks.
Myth 2: Maglev is a viable alternative to our current system.
Truth: Maglev is meant to go fast for longer distances. The rail system will make stops every mile.
Truth: Maglev has a higher operating costs because it requires more energy.
??? Myth 3: Bus rapid transit (BRT) can easily substitute for rail between Middle Street and Ala Moana Center.
Truth: BRT requires significant investment in exclusive lanes to move buses quickly through traffic. This limits space for cars on our already crowded roads. This would mean that lanes currently used for cars and mixed traffic would be reassigned for bus-only use through Honolulu's city center.
Truth: Bus rapid transit without exclusive lanes or other infrastructure is not rapid.
Truth: The Middle Street to Ala Moana Center section of rail holds the most potential ridership. BRT has far less capacity than rail.
& #8226; Kuahea Street: At the previous meeting, residents of Kuahea Street and Waiomao Road asked for an update on the Kuahea Road reconstruction project with a projected timeline for bid opening, bid award, notice to proceed (NTP), and completion. Residents also ask for expedited review and processing of permits associated with the project. Director Sasamura received a report from the Department of Design and Construction (DDC) that the contractor defaulted on their contract for the Kuahea Street Interim Improvement project and has turned the contract over to the bonding company. The City is awaiting the bonding company's response as to the commencement of the project.
& #8226; 10th Ave Blend Line: Boardmember Shiraki expressed his appreciation for the expedited work to apply the "blend line" requested at the intersection of 10th Avenue and Waiomao Road. He asked for an adjustment of the "blend line" as it is too straight and needs to have an "arc" or curve for a smoother transition from Waiomao Road to 10th Avenue. The Department of Transportation Services (DTS) responded that they completed their investigation of 10th Avenue at Waiomao Road. The "blend line" is correctly installed and the angle and radius of the "blend line" are at its optimal dimensions, and vehicles are able to navigate the turn from Waiamao Road onto 10th Avenue without difficulty. DTS appreciates Mr. Shiraki's suggestion of increasing the arc of the "blend line"; however, they will not be adjusting the "blend line" at this time.
Questions, comments and concerns followed:
1. Rate Commission: Armentrout would like to know when the Mayor is appointing his three (3) picks for the Rate Commission which is scheduled to begin meetings on Saturday, July 1, 2017. The commission will be discussing fares for TheBus, Handivan, Rail, and parking fares.
2. Bonds: Armentrout would like to know what the votes were when the City Council agreed to issue $350 million in bonds to fund the project. Director Sasamura answered that the City website will post the results of the hearing, and record of any votes that were taken.
3. 10th Avenue Blend Line: Shiraki repeated his concerns for the blend line on 10th Avenue.
4. Illegal Dumping: Residents Michael Zucker and Alvin Low raised issues with illegal dumping at La'i Road and 10th Avenue, and near the bridge where Palolo Avenue turns into 10th Avenue. It was asked if a system can be implemented where residents call when they need bulk pick up, and the City can assess a charge. Director Sasamura answered that the City used to pick up bulk trash on an appointment basis, but had to change due to illegal dumping happening in urban Honolulu. The City believed people began leaving trash rather than calling for pick up because there was no specific day designated for bulk pick up. The initial thought was to make things easier for residents to dump whenever they may need, but that also invited people from around the island to dump their trash without scheduling an appointment. Director Sasamura said it would be of great help to the City for residents to call the City complaint line at 768-4381 if they see any illegal dumping in their area. If a location has repeated reports, it will warrant more enforcement than an area that only had one complaint. Surveillance measures were taken in the past, and there are means by which surveillance can be conducted and action taken. Director Sasamura also suggested avoiding confronting illegal dumpers, and instead try to document the incident and report.
5. Replacement Trash Bins: Armentrout asked where to call to get a damaged trash bin replaced. Director Sasamura suggested calling the City complaint line or by accessing the Department of Environmental Services (ENV) website https://www.honolulu.gov/env/default.html.
6. Trash Container: A resident said that in the past there was a trash container that residents used to dump their trash. He would like to know if the City can put a container back in the area.
Governor David Ige's Representative: Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs (DCCA) Director Catherine P. Awakuni Colón reported the following:
& #8226; Capitol Connection: Director Awakuni highlighted the Capitol Connection newsletter which focused on climate change and the booming job market in Hawaii.
& #8226; Caregiver Funding: Chair Pro Tem Hack asked at the last meeting how to get caregiver funding at the DOH restored in the next supplemental budget relating to respite care. She reached out to Dr. Pressler at DOH and she indicated that if he were to write to the Developmental Disabilities Division with his request then they will take it into consideration.
Questions, comments and concerns followed: Bus Stop: A resident thanked the State for the new fencing at the bus stop underneath the viaduct.
House Speaker Emeritus Calvin Say - House Speaker Emeritus Calvin Say reported the following:
& #8226; Palolo Chinese Home: There was a dedication for the expansion at the Palolo Chinese Home.
& #8226; Overgrown Trees: There was a concern of overgrown trees in the neighborhood which were taken up with the city and resolved. Speaker Emeritus Say thanked Director Sasamura and Councilmember Ann Kobayashi for their help in getting the trees trimmed.
& #8226; 6th Avenue and Waialae Avenue: Speaker Emeritus Say received a response to traffic concerns regarding the turning lanes. A copy of the response was passed amongst the Board.
& #8226; Palolo Valley Homes: Speaker Emeritus Say provided an update on the Palolo Valley Homes project, and informed the Board that buildings 14 and 15 obtained power on Friday, June 9, 2017 and is nearing completion. The completion of these buildings is estimated for June or July 2017.
& #8226; Palolo Elementary School Court: According to the State Department of Education (DOE), $112,000 has been awarded to CC Engineering & Construction Inc. for structural repairs to Palolo Elementary Schools covered play courts.
& #8226; Kuahea Street: Speaker Emeritus Say received a report in June 2017 regarding the Kuahea Street Improvement project and the removal of a bump in front of a resients??? driveway. Crews were able to remove the bump on Friday, May 12, 2017. The street improvement project has come to a halt because the contractor filed for bankruptcy, and there has not been an update on when the project will be back on track.
Questions, comments and concerns followed:
1. Death with Dignity: Speaker Emeritus Say answered Shiraki's request to support the Death with Dignity bill by telling him that he has supported the bill in the past, and will continue to do so in the future.
2. 6th Avenue and Waialae Avenue: Michael Zucker asked for clarification on the traffic concerns mentioned earlier in the meeting about 6th Avenue and remarked that the issue is drivers using the right turn only lane to go straight because the appropriate lane to go straight is backed up by drivers wanting to make a left turn onto Waialae Avenue. Zucker asked Speaker Emeritus Say to read the response from DTS addressed to the Sato family from Tuesday, October 18, 2016. The no turn on red was installed due to a non-standard size curb radius at the above intersection, and is why the light does not permit a right turn on red. Due to the geometrics of the roadway and motorists crossing over the center line while turning, DTS does not recommend removing the no right turn on red restriction. With regard to modifying the lane, a traffic study was conducted and findings were that the right lane volume was about half of the volume in the left turn lane. The number of left turning vehicles was relatively low compared to the right turning vehicles. A field inspection revealed that the intersection cleared one light cycle majority of the time, as such the current lane usage will be the same. This report was received on Friday, May 24, 2017.
3. Orchid Street and Palolo Avenue: A work order was put in with the City and County of Honolulu to modify the striping on the road, with work scheduled to begin Thursday, August 31, 2017. The stop sign line is improperly placed and will be fixed by the Department of Facility Maintenance (DFM).
4. Special Session: Armentrout asked when the special session for the State Legislature to address the funding of the Rail project will begin. Speaker Emeritus Say responded that the report given to him says the session will take place from Monday, August 28, 2017 to Friday, September 1, 2017. Speaker Emeritus Say explained the costs of convening a special session is around $27,000 for one working week, so the bill will likely be in its final form if agreement is reached to meet for a special session. The bill must go through three (3) readings, in the House of Representatives and three (3) in the Senate, so if any amendments are to be made, the session would likely have to be extended further. Speaker Emeritus Say recommended residents send in testimony voicing their support or opposition to the special session bill, and mentioned the idea of having a preliminary public hearing before the special session begins.
1. Congratulations: Speaker Emeritus Say offered his congratulations to Chair Pro Tem Hack on his retirement.
Senator Les Ihara Jr.: Senator Les Ihara Jr. reported the following:
& #8226; Updates: The session ended 45 days prior to today which is typically the day to consider overriding any of the Governor's vetoes. The Governor announced over 12 bills he planned to veto, and the Legislature showed insufficient interest to override the Governor's decisions.
& #8226; Special Session: Senator Ihara spoke of the Senate Draft of the Rail bill, and explained how the House of Representatives and the Senate could not come to an agreement on their versions of the bill. A strong majority in the Senate oppose funding rail with the use of TAT which was proposed by the House of Representatives.
& #8226; House Bill 209: Senator Ihara praised the passing of House Bill 209 (HB209) that establishes a state earned income tax credit that will help to offset the effects of GET on lower income citizens.
Questions, comments and concerns followed: Bonds: Armentrout asked why $80 million of the $350 million in bonds is going to repay a previous loan. Senator Ihara answered that it is not the best fiscal management, but the reason could be the need for immediate cash, as the GET collection system needs time to build a large amount of money.
Nakayama and Mau departed the meeting at 8:28 p.m.; four (4) members present.
PRESENTATIONS: Red Hill Fuel Storage: Sierra Club coordinator Jodi Malinoski gave a presentation about the Red Hill fuel storage tanks owned by the United States Navy (Navy). There are 20 tanks that were constructed underground in the 1940s with 18 tanks considered active today. The tanks store 225 million gallons of jet fuel or marine diesel located 100 feet above Oahu's primary drinking water supply with no leak prevention system on the tanks. The Navy and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have released no plan for relocating and cleaning up the fuel that has already leaked from the facility and has offered no assurance that future leaks will not occur. The January 2014 leak was not the first, and Sierra Club fears that this will not be the last. Since the most recent leak, Navy studies have detected petroleum chemicals in the groundwater near the tanks. Oahu's drinking water supply is being put at risk, and there is a lack of urgency from the responsible agencies to prevent future leaks and clean up the current contamination. The leak in January 2014 caused 27,000 gallons of fuel to be released from just one (1) tank. The leak resulted in the retirement of the tank and a 20-year agreement between the Navy, EPA, and the Hawaii Department of Health (DOH) to study and monitor the storage facility. A draft resolution was distributed to the Board members, but due to a lack of quorum no action could be taken at this meeting.
Questions, comments and concerns followed:
1. Petroleum Smell: Chair Pro Tem Hack commented that 10 years ago, an acquaintance mentioned a petroleum smell when showering that was very alarming to the individual as well as the Chair. Malinoski echoed their concerns.
2. Agenda: Armentrout recommended putting Sierra Club on the next month's agenda. Hearing no objections, Chair Pro Tem Hack agreed to do so.
3. No Leaks: Frost asked if the Sierra Club envisions a scenario where there will be no fear of leaks. Malinoski replied that the only way to guarantee no leaks in the future is to relocate the fuel. Frost followed up and asked if there are any sites Sierra Club supports moving the tanks to, and Malinoski answered that the Navy is considering other sites, but relocation is not their priority.
4. Praises: Shiraki thanked the Sierra Club for all their work.
Approval of Regular Meeting Minutes: Due to lack of quorum, no action could be taken on this item.
Treasurer's Report: No Treasurer was elected. No report was given.
Next Meeting: The next Palolo Neighborhood Board No. 6 regular meeting will be held on Wednesday, August 9, 2017 at 7:00 p.m. at the Palolo Elementary School cafeteria.
Bulky Trash Pick-Up: Bulky trash should be placed no earlier than one (1) day before the third Wednesday of every month to preserve the beauty of the valley. Call 768-3203 for violations.
Olelo Broadcast Slots: The P lolo Neighborhood Board No.6 meetings are aired on Channel 49 the first and third Sundays of the month at 12:00 p.m. and the 4th Thursday at 9:00 p.m. or online, anytime at http://www.olelo.org
Social Media: Join us informally at the "P lolo Valley Community" page on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com. Also stay connected with P lolo at www.nextdoor.com
Farmers??? Market: Every Wednesday from 6:30 a.m. to 7:20 a.m. at Palolo District Park.
ADJOURNMENT: The meeting adjourned at 8:35 p.m.
Submitted by: Aran Wilson, Neighborhood Assistant
Reviewed by: Dylan Whitsell, Neighborhood Assistant
Finalized by: Randolph Hack, Chair
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