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With Permission / Courtesy of: City and County of Honolulu Neighborhood Commission Office

KAIMUK NEIGHBORHOOD BOARD NO. 4

 

April 2023 Minutes

 

DRAFT REGULAR MEETING MINUTES

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 19, 2023

KAIMUKI PUBLIC LIBRARY MEETING ROOM and WEBEX APPLICATION

CALL TO ORDER - Chair Yamada called the meeting to order at 6:30 p.m. Quorum was established with seven (7) members present. Note - This 11-member Board requires six (6) members to establish a quorum and to take official Board action.

Board Members Present - Brian Kang, Lori Yamada, Paul Hoe, Jason DeMarco, Becky Gardner (via WebEx), Rob Haak (via WebEx), and Eric McCutcheon.

Board Members Absent - Kelsie Aguilera

Guests - Lieutenant Taro Nakamura (Honolulu Police Department); Lorna Heller (Board of Water Supply (BWS); Matt McKeever (Queen Theatre); Eric Crispin (3650 Waialae Avenue); Carol Hoshiko (Kapiolani Community College); Director of the Department of Information Technology Mark Wong (Mayor Rick Blangiardi's Representative); Amanda Zepeda (Office of Council Chair Tommy Waters); Councilmember Calvin Say, Janel Denny, and Melvia Kawashima; Amanda Stevens (Governor Josh Green's Representative); Ian Ross (Office of Senator Stanley Chang); Laura Ruby, Elwood, Anthony Callione, Joyce Murakami, Mike Town, Zoe Finn, Eugene, Patrick Watson (Residents); and Thomas Baldwin (Neighborhood Commission Office).

Chair Yamada passed the gavel to Vice Chair Hoe.

ROLL CALL Vice Chair Hoe called the roll.

FILLING OF VACANCIES

There were no volunteers to fill vacancies.

CITY MONTHLY REPORTS

Honolulu Fire Department (HFD) - No representative; the following report was provided prior to the meeting:

• March 2023 Statistics: There were one (1) structure fire, one (1) wildland/brush fire, one (1) cooking fire, one (1) activated alarm, 57 medical calls, and one (1) motor vehicle crash/ collisions.

• Evacuation Planning Safety Tips: Have an emergency preparedness plan ready in case of an environmental emergency, fire, or natural disaster. Know two ways out of your home, and consider the route you will take if you need to evacuate from your neighborhood due to an emergency. Visit fire.honolulu.gov to learn more. Leave early enough to avoid being caught in fire, smoke, or road congestion. Establish a predetermined location, such as a well-prepared neighbor or relative's house, a low-risk area, or a shelter or evacuation center. Take your emergency supply kit containing your family and pet's necessary items.

Honolulu Police Department (HPD) - Lieutenant Taro Nakamura reported the following:

MARC 2023 Statistics: There were 11 motor vehicle thefts, 13 burglaries, 40 thefts, 15 unauthorized entries into motor vehicles (UEMVs), and 7,034 total calls for service.

Safety Tip: Lieutenant promoted the HNL.info app that provides central information related to fire, police, ocean safety, EMS, among other critical departments.

Board of Water Supply (BWS): Lorna Heller reported no main breaks in the community and discussed Detect-A-leak week, taking place from April 16, 2023 to April 22, 2023. The BWS partnered with Hardware Hawaii for this annual campaign, encouraging residents to check for and quickly repair any leaks they find, as leaks can lead to high water bills. Free leak detection dye tablets are available at the Water Supply or Hawaii and Salt Lake City halls during this time. The primary cause of toilet leaks can often be faulty flappers. An in-person event originally planned for the day of the meeting was postponed due to weather, but a live event was rescheduled for the following Wednesday from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m.. During this event, they will discuss leak detection and repair, distribute free leak detection dye tablets, hold games, and giveaway water-sense labeled toilets from Hardware Hawaii. Lorna concluded her report by offering to answer any questions.

PRESENTATIONS

Planning and Permitting Committee: Jason DeMarco, the Chair of the Planning and Permitting Committee, explained the committee's purpose and recent activities. He stated that the committee, which is part of the Kaimuki Neighborhood Board, serves two (2) main functions: acting as a clearinghouse for issues related to the built environment and the planning and permitting process, and providing a platform for these matters to be discussed in more detail. The committee is also a place for ideas to be proposed, developed, and then presented to the Board for potential action. The committee has been examining various topics, including street trees, pedestrianization, and Monster Homes, the latter of which has been a foundational topic for the committee. They have been actively tracking and collaborating with other stakeholders on these issues within their neighborhood. The committee typically meets a week after the general Kaimuki Neighborhood Board meeting at the same location at 5:30 PM. He also confirmed that the committee successfully conducted its first meeting last month, both in person and on Zoom.

Questions, comments, and concerns followed:

1. Monster Homes: A resident asked and Member DeMarco responded that, while the exact definition of monster home is somewhat undefined, there's consensus around some characteristics of these homes. Features often include a large size that maxes out the building envelope with small setbacks, extensive pavement on the property, numerous cars parked in front, and especially when the home functions essentially as an illegal apartment building with multiple unrelated entities residing within. A large house that adheres to zoning regulations could be seen simply as a big house, but the concern arises when such houses are illegally subdivided for multiple occupants, which triggers the label of a "monster home". Member DeMarco went on to discuss the board's planning and permitting committee's response to this issue. Rather than proactively seeking out potential monster homes, the committee identifies and tracks properties brought to their attention. The committee's main focus is on properties that are under construction or in the permitting process to potentially become monster homes. Their aim is to ensure these projects are conforming to building codes, zoning ordinances, and other standards. If not, they are taking steps to have the property owners correct these issues, thereby preventing the creation of more monster homes. Resident and committee member Patrick Watson also discussed the board's ongoing concern with "monster homes." He suggested that the board should explore new resolutions and legislation aimed specifically at abusive and negligent developers, while avoiding punitive measures against smaller developers who are following the rules. Watson proposed that the board request the presence of a member from the DPP at as many neighborhood board meetings as possible to assist in navigating these issues.

2. Issues with Meeting Connectivity: Resident Watson addressed technical difficulties experienced during the last committee meeting with streaming online. The library hosting the meeting shuts down its internet access during their meeting time, requiring alternative solutions like hotspots for future meetings.

3. Performance Zoning: State Senator Les Ihara addressed the board to discuss his involvement in state-level legislation concerning land use and zoning. He has introduced legislation that would allow cities to use performance zoning, a system that deals with the effects of land use, as an alternative to land zoning, which is commonly used nationwide. Senator Ihara acknowledges that performance zoning would require more staffing to manage but suggests it could be used selectively in certain areas to govern by impact. This zoning approach would enforce different criteria for what's permitted, including the number of bathrooms, the number of residents, and the necessary parking. He expressed his willingness to work with the community if they're interested in this approach and suggested that further conversations with the city would be necessary. If there's enough community interest, he offered to revisit his legislation and potentially introduce new legislation next year.

4. Appreciation: Chair Yamada expressed appreciation for the necessary work of the Planning and Permitting Committee.

UPDATES FROM COMMUNITY GROUPS

Hawaii Bicycling League: Member McCutcheon of the Hawaii Bicycling League provided a presentation about the current mode of micro-mobility, specifically discussing the electric personal assistive mobility device. This device is characterized by its two (2) self-balancing, non-tandem wheels and is meant for one (1) person only. The device has a maximum speed of 12.5 miles per hour and can be operated on sidewalks at up to eight (8) miles per hour, as well as on bicycle paths. The speaker reminded attendees that the devices are permitted on sidewalks and are not required to be registered, insured, or licensed. They also mentioned that the device is suitable for individuals who are 16 years or older. The speaker emphasized the importance of sharing the road safely with these devices, as they have the same rights and responsibilities as other road users. Lastly, the speaker mentioned that these devices can be programmed for tasks such as coffee delivery or package delivery.

Questions, comments, and concerns followed: Electric Vehicles' Noise Levels: Resident Elwood and Member McCutcheon discussed the quietness of electric vehicles, noting it can pose safety issues for pedestrians and other road users. McCutcheon highlighted that some vehicles now add backup noises for safety and pointed out the legal requirement for these vehicles to alert pedestrians when passing on sidewalks. However, despite these measures, he emphasized the need for increased vigilance due to the inherently quiet nature of electric vehicles.

Queen Theater: Matthew McKeever provided updates on matters discussed in the last Neighborhood Board meeting. McKeever mentioned ongoing engagement with an artist to create a mural for the marquee signage, promising more information in the next meeting. McKeever addressed concerns about the marquee signage, confirming that it had been signed off by a structural engineer. They are also working with a project manager and an architect on other capital expenditures in the theater space. McKeever mentioned ongoing discussions with various nonprofit theater groups and food and beverage concepts for profit.

Questions, comments, and concerns followed: Interior Condition: Resident Elwood asked and McKeever responded that the space is in a shell condition, but the theatre, stage, box office, etc. are still present.

Kapiolani Community College (KCC): Carol Hoshiko updated the board on the construction of Phase 2 for the Culinary Institute of the Pacific. Hoshiko reported considerable progress since her last update. Roofing has been installed at the restaurant along with the metal stud exterior and interior walls for the restaurant and auditorium. The roughing in for the mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire sprinkler systems are in progress. Window installations at the restaurant have begun. Adjacent to the facility, grading is underway for the creation of terrace gardens, which will feature edible and native plants for food and medicinal purposes. Hoshiko also provided an update on the auditorium interior, highlighting the tiered areas for sitting, which can adapt to different events like wine tastings or lectures. Lastly, Hoshiko informed the board about the Innovation Center next to the existing lab building. The first slab on grade pour is complete and steel framing has begun. All facilities are expected to be completed by the end of 2023.

3650 Waialae Avenue (Goodwill Building): Eric Crispin, the project executive for 3650 Waialae Avenue, provided an update on the project. He noted the temporary closure of the bus stop at the sidewalk fronting 3650 since April 10, 2023 for an estimated four (4) to six (6) weeks due to work on the sidewalk and underground infrastructure. He also reported that the BWS plans to shut off water to the homes and businesses on Koko Head Avenue on April 20, 2023 from 8:30 p.m. for approximately two (2) to six (6) hours. The affected residences and businesses have been notified, and an update has been posted on the project's website. In addition, work has begun on installing a traffic light due to high traffic volume at the intersection, a task that will continue over the next few months. Despite these works, the project remains on schedule to complete construction by fall 2023. Regular updates are provided on the project's website, and there's a hotline and email address for any questions or concerns. Crispin expressed gratitude for the understanding of the neighbors despite the inevitable construction disruption.

Questions, comments, and concerns followed: Outreach: Vice Chair Hoe posed a question regarding the dissemination of updates to neighboring businesses and associations, including local non-businesses such as elementary schools and libraries. Crispin confirmed that their communications team stays in close touch with various organizations, including the neighborhood board, the business association, and others such as Trees for Kaimuki. They aim to maintain as much contact as possible.

ELECTED OFFICIALS' REPORTS

Hearing no objections, Vice Chair Hoe took the agenda out of order.

Senator Les Ihara: Senator Les Ihara reported that the State Legislature is currently in a conference committee period. Most bills are in the conference committee and the deadline for final decisions is the following week.

Questions, comments, and concerns followed: Campaign Finance Reform: Member DeMarco asked and Senator Ihara expressed interest in political reform, finance reform, and campaign finance reform. Many of the bills related to these topics are currently in conference committees. Senator Ihara highlighted the public funding of election campaigns, which he believes would reduce political pressures arising when lobby interests dominate election funding. He also mentioned an interest in increased disclosure from registered lobbyists about their donations to legislators and candidates. Senator Ihara explained that it involves the use of public funds. To qualify, a candidate must receive a certain number of small donations, demonstrating grassroots support, and then agree to a spending limit. The objective is to create a more competitive environment in elections.

Vice Chair Hoe returned to the order of business.

Mayor Rick Blangiardi's Representative - DIT Director Mark Wong distributed a newsletter (oneoahu.org/newsletter) and reported the following: On March 14, 2023, Mayor Blangiardi delivered his State of the City address at Mission Memorial Auditorium, focusing on Oahu's most complex issues, referred to as "wicked problems". These challenges require the expertise of a variety of sectors and an openness to change and innovation. The full address can be viewed at www.oneoahu.org/newsletter/#april2023. Mayor Blangiardi and his team have been conducting community visits around Oahu and have 6 Town Hall meetings remaining. These sessions offer an open Q&A with Mayor Blangiardi and representatives from 25 City departments and agencies, where the public is encouraged to share suggestions. April is Fair Housing Month, emphasizing the need for fair and affordable housing for Oahu residents. Stable housing is a key focus for the city, promoting other critical life aspects like education and community involvement. Climate change, another significant problem, is being addressed by the Office of Climate Change, Sustainability and Resiliency. The office has secured over $3 million in federal grants to tackle climate hazards and is preparing to release the city's first-ever climate change adaptation strategy, "Climate Ready Oahu." The "One Oahu with Mayor Rick Blangiardi" podcast offers another platform for the public to ask questions and receive updates on City functions. The Mayor's Newsletter is available at https://www.oneoahu.org/newsletter. Forbes has recognized The City and County of Honolulu as one of America's Best Employers by State for the second year running. Job opportunities can be found at https://www.governmentjobs.com/careers/honolulu. The Neighborhood Board Elections received 425 candidate registrations for the 2023-2025 term. Voting starts on April 28 and continues through May 19. More information can be found at www.honolulu.gov/nco/nbelections. Director Wong discussed follow-up items from the last meeting. Residents raised concerns about the handling of glass during blue bin recycling pickup and the placement of green garbage cans post-pickup. The Department of Environmental Services (ENV) responded that any debris, including shattered glass, that falls onto the street or sidewalk during collection should be reported to the local Refuse Collection yard Supervisor. They also clarified that drivers of automated refuse trucks are required to return the carts to their original position, be it on the sidewalk or street, after collection. Another issue discussed was the poor state of Sierra Drive due to weather conditions and frequent accidents. In response, DDC reported that an ongoing project, Rehabilitation of Localized Streets, Phase 14D, is set to pave the roadway at 3630 Sierra Drive by the end of April 2023, weather and other conditions permitting.

Questions, comments, and concerns followed:

1. Parking Lot Stall: Vice Chair Hoe requested an explanation for the transition of an Electric Vehicle (EV) charging station to a Hui stall at Kaimuki Municipal Parking Lot 2.

2. Tiny Home Villages: Member DeMarco requested guidance as to how the neighborhood boards could support tiny home villages for the homeless, specifically on the best ways to counter NIMBY opposition.

3. 8th Avenue and Waialae Avenue: Chair Yamada and Director Wong discussed the problem of stoplights at certain intersections, particularly on 8th Avenue and Waialae Avenue. The issue was that many people run these lights because they are hard to see. Chair Yamada suggested the lights should hang over the road and perhaps include reflective backings for better visibility. Director Wong noted that some lights have been moved to hang over the center of the road, though not all changes have been made due to time and money constraints. He added that this was his observation and not an official answer. Further, Chair Yamada clarified that by "reflector," she was referring to a blinder or a black plate placed behind the lights to block the sun and enhance visibility, not a traditional reflective surface. Member Becky Gardner also shared her experience of almost running a red light at one of the problematic intersections. Member Gardner noted that the positioning of the traffic lights changed from one intersection to another, which she believed might have contributed to her near miss.

City Council Chair Tommy Waters - Amanda Zepeda shared several updates. She began by acknowledging that the long-delayed street project on Sierra Drive, Project 14-D, is finally showing progress. Zepeda highlighted an issue with commercial vehicles being parked on public streets, noting an investigation is underway. She reminded everyone that it is illegal to park vehicles used for home occupations on public streets, with a maximum of two (2) allowed on private property. Zepeda addressed the ongoing concern over 'monster homes' in the neighborhood. She mentioned that one (1) specific project at 3715 Crater Road is under investigation and discussed some of the concerns with the property and the need for further investigation. Zepeda also mentioned another property on 1257 Ainakoa Avenue, which is allegedly undergoing work despite a stop-work order. The office has requested an investigation and enforcement of ordinance relating to stop-work orders.

Questions, comments, and concerns followed:

1. 16th and Waialae Avenue: Chair Yamada asked and Zepeda responded that they are still pursuing a pending study on 16th Avenue and Waialae Avenue. Findings will be shared when available.

2. Court of Appeals date: Member DeMarco asked about the status of the public Court of Appeals date for 3615 Wilhelmina Drive, to which Zepeda suggested the information might be found on the DPP website, and she would look into it further.

3. Issues Related to Runoff: Resident Watson sought clarification on an issue the office is listening to, which Zepeda confirmed was related to runoff and drainage between private properties. She mentioned their legal team is currently researching whether there are existing ordinances that could apply to such situations. Resident Watson requested relevant city officials be invited to speak to these issues, and Zepeda suggested the inspector assigned to the area or the chief building plans examiner. Vice Chair Hoe and Member DeMarco noted that the inspectors rotate and might not be assigned to one area forever, so it would be helpful to identify the current inspector.

Councilmember Calvin Say (City Council District 5): Councilmember Calvin Say highlighted a recent City Council discussion regarding real property tax relief for residents, noting that potential relief measures are currently being explored for property tax owners. Councilmember Say also commended the board for initiating changes to ordinances related to 'monster homes' and storm water issues. Councilmember Say underscored that the council is seeking funds to address deteriorating storm water infrastructure, an issue that has been on the back burner for some time.

Questions, comments, and concerns followed:

1. Harding Avenue and 3rd Avenue: Resident Elwood asked and Councilmember Say responded that an engineering study is underway for Harding Avenue and 3rd Avenue, and that the current plan is to install plastic delineators to slow down traffic.

2. Wilhelmina Drive and Sierra Drive Safety: Resident Watson expressed concerns about ongoing accidents at the intersection of Wilhelmina Drive and Sierra Drive. In response, Councilmember Say acknowledged the concern and assured a follow up with the Department of Transportation Services (DTS).

Governor Josh Green's Representative: Amanda Stevens presented information regarding Medicaid in Hawaii. She stated that more than 460,000 people are currently enrolled in Medicaid, which includes over half of the children in the state. She emphasized the state's preparation for the end of the public health emergency, where Medicaid recipients will have 12 months to recertify or renew their benefits. This extension is courtesy of the federal government, and Hawaii is taking full advantage of this period to ensure no one is rushed through the process. Medicaid recipients will receive a pink letter in the mail, translated into multiple languages, informing them about the upcoming changes. The state is also working to address potential identity issues with other states taking advantage of the public health emergency ending. Stevens also addressed concerns about homelessness, noting efforts through the Institute of Human Services (IHS) to focus on ending and preventing homelessness in Hawaii. She mentioned a grant that will be used for ongoing homeless prevention and services related to becoming clean and sober, mentally stable, and transferring folks to continue treatment elsewhere. She stressed the importance of a continuum of care in mental health rehabilitation.

Questions, comments, and concerns followed: Medicaid: Member Gardner raised questions regarding Medicaid statistics presented by Amanda Stevens, the Governor's Representative. Stevens noted that 468,000 individuals in Hawaii are now on Medicaid, an increase from the pre-pandemic number of 360,000. Half of the children in Hawaii are currently on Medicaid, a rise from the previous figure of one-fourth. Stevens also mentioned that many beneficiaries are not just the disabled and elderly, but also include the underemployed or unemployed. The trend of increasing Medicaid beneficiaries began in April 2020 and hasn't stopped since. Stevens promised to provide a detailed chart on this matter in the next meeting. She also encouraged beneficiaries to check their renewal dates and follow the instructions sent via mail for renewal.

Senator Stanley Chang: Legislative Aide Ian Ross shared Senator Chang's April newsletter, a link to a training session on how the conference committee process works, and a recording of an information briefing with housing expert Greg Goldberg. He also mentioned a recent webinar on initiative 135, a successful social housing campaign in Seattle, and thanked attendees of 'Art at the Capitol'. Ross provided updates on five (5) bills under Senator Chang that have progressed to the conference committee process. SB 129 aims to change codes related to definitions of provider for homeless minors consenting to shelter. Another bill intends to replace unfaithful presidential electors. The third bill clarifies quorum for the Youth Commission, the fourth is similar to the Loa Homes proposal, and the last, SB 151, pertains to law enforcement, requiring agencies to maintain and publicly share minimum standards on the use of force, and obliging officers to report instances of excessive force.

Representative Jackson Sayama: No representative was present; no report given.

Representative Bert Kobayashi: No representative was present; a newsletter was distributed to the board.

United States Representative Ed Case: No representative present; no report given.

ANNOUNCEMENTS

Kaimuki Neighborhood Board No. 4 Website: Chair Yamada shared a website hosting information relevant to Kaimuki and the Neighborhood Board:

https://knb4kaimuki.wixsite.com/boardmeetings

BOARD BUSINESS

Report of Planning and Zoning Committee and Recommendations: Committee Chair Jason DeMarco reported the following from the prior meeting. The committee discussed the issue of 'monster homes', and is considering additional ways to manage this issue, including the suggestion of penalties for licensed professionals and contractors involved with repeat offenses. The committee also held discussion about the 12th Avenue promenade and mall, with a large number of concerned business owners in attendance. A decision was made that the committee would not pursue this matter further as the local businesses were not interested. The committee recommends that the board adopt a tree as part of the efforts of the street trees group. In terms of legislative tracking, the committee noted bills under consideration with the city council that involve expanding special assignment inspections, an initiative that allows construction to commence before building permits are issued. The consensus was in favor of this expansion. The committee briefly discussed the mayor's initiative of tiny home villages for the homeless, considering possible locations in the Kaimuki neighborhood. Potential areas included residual parcels along the freeway and underutilized state lands around Leahi hospital.

Discussion on forming Committees to address community issues - Transportation, Environment, Safety, etc. No report.

Approval of Regular Meeting Minutes (March 2023)

The March 2023 Regular Meeting Minutes WERE ADOPTED AS WRITTEN.

REPORTS

Treasurer's Report - No report was available.

Members' Attendance at Other Meetings: No reports.

Next Meeting: The next Kaimuki Neighborhood Board No. 4 Regular Meeting is scheduled on Wednesday, May 17, 2023 at 6:30 p.m. in person and / or WebEx Application.

ADJOURNMENT - The meeting was adjourned at 8:16 p.m.

Submitted by: Thomas Baldwin, Neighborhood Assistant

Reviewed by: Naomi Hanohano, Community Relations Specialist

Final approval by: Lori Yamada, Chair

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