Friday, August 23, 2013


HCDA dangers warned in 1976 House floor speeches

Now, Mr. Speaker, let us examine the other interesting powers of the Hawaii Community Development Authority. This super agency will have the authority to establish community development rules regarding health, safety, building, planning, zoning, and land use which would supersede all county ordinances. Not only does this violate the concept of State-County cooperation and interaction in comprehensive planning, but also amounts to the unconstitutional delegation of legislative authority to a non-elected body.Rep. Poepoe, speaking on the House floor against SB2394, 1976

State Rep. Neil Abercrombie spoke against the HCDA in 1976

Although he wasn’t the first out of his seat, Rep. Neil Abercrombie did speak against SB2394 on that same 61st day of the Legislature in 1976. He spoke mostly about how University of Hawaii and Hawaiian Homes Commission land would be used—see the full text below. A small snip of his more general remarks:

… I think we have much too much administrative authority over us now, in terms of Boards and Commissions, that are not subject to the will of the people in terms of having to seek re-election,  or election in the first place. And such a development authority, as has been indicated, as would be put together under the bill, probably will have no better luck than previous development authority throughout the country, which have failed miserably in this respect.

by Larry Geller

Several state representatives spoke against establishing the Hawaii Community Development Authority, including then-State Representative Neil Abercrombie (see box to the right). Despite objections, SB2394 passed into law as Act 152 of the 1976 legislative session.

The rest is history, which may soon include 22 or more giant towers, each given zoning exemptions just because their developers asked for them.

Pages from the 1976 House Journal are posted at the bottom. Here are some snips.

Rep. Larsen:

Urban renewal is not the State's kuleana. It is a County responsibility. Through Article 7 of our State Constitution, the people of this State have sanctified the right of each County to govern itself by a charter which shall be superior to all but general laws. Mr. Speaker, one of the most critical areas of local government is zoning . HRS 46-4 states that, and I quote, 'zoning shall be one of the tools available to the County to put the general plan into effect in an orderly manner.' This section further states that, 'the powers granted herein shall be liberally construed in favor of the county exercising the, and in such a manner as to promote the orderly development of each county . . . . in accordance with long-range, comprehensive, general plan . . . .

For some reason, this Legislature has continually sought to bypass the principle of home rule when it comes to the City and County of Honolulu. This bill is another example. Whether these efforts are cheap political shots at the present Mayor of Honolulu or merely misdirected efforts at city planning, I do not know. But laws should not be made on the basis of personalities.

Members of the House, this is a bad bill because it would allow the State to usurp powers that properly belong to the people of the island of Oahu. We do not need another issue to intensify the feud between our State and City governments. A State-operated redevelopment district right in the heart of Honolulu will, I promise you, tie the island in knots for years to come.

Kakaako cannot function without city integration and, possibly, the city will be unable to function with the State holding its crossroads for political ransom.

Rep. Clarke:

. . . this bill we are voting on today, seeks to establish yet another burdensome layer of planning bureaucracy not bound by the concept of the State and county plans. The State plan need only be considered, compliance is not mandated.

Under the principle of home rule, the counties have been given the power and the mandate to plan the development of urban lands within coordinated State guidelines. The county in question, Honolulu, has chosen to insert many provisions in its Charter to protect against piecemeal planning changes and against changes lacking public participation. This bill ignores these principles and permits a State agency, the Hawaii Community Development Authority, to spot-plan and spotzone.

County ordinances on health, safety, building, planning and zoning need only be followed 'as closely as is consistent with standards meeting minimum', and I repeat minimum, 'requirements of good design, pleasant amenities, health, safety and coordinated development', in the sole discretion of the Hawaii Community Development Authority.

As drafted, this bill simply reintroduces traditional urban redevelopment, which has been thoroughly discredited throughout America.


Download 1976 House Journal SB2394 from Disappeared News


No doubt he would say his "views have evolved." That seems to be the popular phrase for flip flopping these days.

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