FAQs

2016 HCDA AMI

2016 HUD AMI (for reference only)

HCDA 2015 AMI

Mauka Master Plan
Reserved and Workforce Housing
Traffic and Infrastructure
Rules and TOD Overlay
Variances and Modifications
Other Issues

Parks and Open Spaces

Contested Case Procedures 2014

Why is there an odor in some areas of Kakaako?

May 21, 2014 Kakaako Downtown Forum Q&A

 Kakaako Mauka Master Plan

 

Q: Why Build in Kakaako?

A:  Kakaako is a relatively underdeveloped community with the unique ability to adapt and grow into an engaging, compact, walkable community in our urban center.  Planned developments will allow Kakaako residents to live, work and play in their neighborhood.  A “sense of place” will be created through the utilization of a complete streets and urban village design.  There will be housing that people can afford, that is close to good-paying jobs, new local parks, restaurants, and other services built near public transit.  The community will also be designed for walking and biking, further reducing automobile use and traffic.  And by transforming run-down sections of an existing neighborhood, we will protect current open spaces and keep the country, country for future generations.

 

Q: What will happen to our skyline in Kakaako?

A:  The skyline will include several new high rises, however all developers will be held to the same strict rules to protect our view sheds.  All high rises will be up to 400 feet tall, and will follow predetermined spacing requirements from one tower to the next.  Developers will also be encouraged to adopt “Mauka to Makai” building orientation to minimize the impact of blocked views.

 

Q: How will HCDA ensure that developers strictly follow the requirements of individual landowner’s master plans (e.g., Kaiaulu O Kakaako/ Kamehameha Schools and Ward Neighborhood/ Howard Hughes Corp.) if those plans have different requirements from the Kakaako Mauka Master Plan?

A:  The KS and Ward Neighborhood Master Plans have already been found by the Authority to be consistent with the Kakaako Mauka Master Plan. Individual projects associated with either the KS or Ward master plans are reviewed when a planned development project application is submitted to the HCDA. A planned development is an individual project, which is subject to a minimum of two separate public hearings. Each development permit is thoroughly reviewed by the HCDA for compliance with the Mauka Area Plan and Rules and the master plan requirements prior to consideration by the Authority.

 

Q: How does the current Kakaako Mauka Master Plan meet the needs of Honolulu’s growing senior population? Will there be enough affordable housing to meet senior housing demands?

A: Although senior housing is not specifically addressed within the Kakaako Mauka Area Plan and Rules, the HCDA has developed senior housing projects within the Kakaako Community Development District (KCDD) in partnership with the Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corporation (HHFDC) . There are a total of 490 senior rental units in Kakaako in three different facilities: Pohulani, Na Lei Hulu Kupuna and Honuakaha. There are also other facilities (e.g., Kauhale Kakaako, Kamakee Vista) which serve qualified income households that might include seniors.

 

Q: Does HCDA anticipate property tax increases with the number of increased developments in the Kakaako area? What will HCDA do to keep property taxes from overburdening small property owners with increased property taxes?

A: The Real Property Assessment Division within the Department of Budget and Fiscal Services for the City and County of Honolulu administers the real property tax in Honolulu, which includes property in Kakaako. The HCDA has no statutory authority to address property tax issues. Real property tax rates are set city wide in accordance with property valuations for general categories of land use (e.g., light industrial, business mixed use, residential, multi-family).

 

Q: What specific improvements must developers make to increase the Floor Area Ratio (FAR) to 3.5 for developments in central Kakaako?

A: Developers are required to upgrade any infrastructure that is determined by the Executive Director of the HCDA to be inadequate for the proposed development. Infrastructure improvements to water supply, wastewater distribution, traffic controls and/or drainage improvements are typically featured for the increase in FAR.

 

Q: What rules or statutory authority did the HCDA follow to allow Victoria Ward-Howard Hughes to add an additional tower of up to 400 feet in height when the Victoria Ward Master Plan (2008) had limits of 300’ height and 200’ apart (for long and short sides) for the same parcel?

A: The Ward neighborhood Master Plan permit is vested under Hawaii Administrative Rules (HAR) Chapter 15-22. The HCDA is required to apply the provisions of HAR Chapter 15-22 in considering any development under
the Ward Neighborhood Master Plan. The Master Plan Permit issued for the Ward Neighborhood Master Plan gives flexibility to the permit holder to move certain uses and buildings within specific land blocks.

 

Q: Does the Kakaako Mauka Master Plan provide for low-income/special needs housing or related opportunities for individuals who are considered disabled and rely solely on social security for their income?

A: The HCDA’s Mauka Area Plan and Rules provide provisions for development of housing within the KCDD that is affordable to families with low to moderate income. There is no specific requirement for special needs housing. (See also answer for question #2). However, housing developed by State agencies must be compliant with the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

 

Q: Does the HCDA plan to change the height limits for buildings under its TOD Rules overlay proposal?

A: The HCDA is considering increasing density limits on certain specific land parcels that are within walking distance of the transit stations in the district. However, given the recent passing of Act 61 in the 2014 Legislative Session, building height limits in Kakaako are restricted to no higher than 418 feet. The HCDA is now re-evaluating its draft transit-oriented development (TOD) plan to accommodate this new rule.  The current draft plan is available on the HCDA website for public review and comment.

 

Q: Will sidewalks for pedestrian used on Queen Street, Ward Avenue and South Street be available when developments are completed around these locations?

A: Yes, one of the goals of redeveloping Kakaako is to build “complete streets”, which include safe pedestrian walking paths, sidewalks, medians, and bicycle lanes. The two largest landowners in Kakaako, KS and Ward Village, both support this vision.  However, portions of Queen Street are privately owned and would have to be acquired in order for public funds to be used for the construction of sidewalks and pedestrian pathways.

 

Q: Has HCDA considered the impacts that high-density developments will have on Honolulu’s beaches? If it has done so, what were HCDA’s findings?

A: The HCDA prepared an environmental impact statement (EIS) for adoption of the Mauka Area Plan and Rules. Impact to recreational facilities and proposed mitigations are addressed in the EIS. While there are no sandy beaches within the district there are approximately 50 acres of park space within the boundaries of the Kakaako Community Development District.

 

Q: How will HCDA assure that ordinary activities of daily living will occur within walking distance of most residences once residential towers are erected?

A: The Mauka Area Plan and Zoning rules envisions a mixed-use community. Normally, as residential units get built and people move into the district, commercial and retail developments follow to serve the new population, thus providing the necessary services for daily living. Zoning rules promote commercial and retail use at the street level and require developers to construct improvements to a “build to” line that is typically set at the parcel frontage along public streets.  Plans for a new grocery store are already underway, as Ward Village pursues the permitting approval to build a Whole Foods store in the Ward Neighborhood.

 

Q: Will development in Kakaako include affordable housing?

A:  It’s important to remember that all private developers in Kakaako are required to set aside at least 20% of their new residential development for reserved housing.  These reserved housing units will be priced to be affordable to those making less than 140% of the area median income (AMI), which in 2016 came out to be $86,150 for a single person or $123,060 for a family of four.  In the 2014 Legislative Session, lawmakers also opted to allow developers to make cash payments in lieu of providing this reserved housing.  The HCDA would then use those monies to supplement the funding for additional housing developments, such as Halekauwila Place.  HCDA pitched in $17 million dollars toward the construction of Halekauwila Place, which offers 204 low income rental units to those making less than 60% AMI (less than $42,300 for a single person). See the 2016 HCDA Annual Report for a comprehensive list of all of the HCDA-approved housing developments since the agency’s creation in 1976, including a listing of the various AMI levels each reserved housing development serves.

 

Q: What steps has HCDA taken to assure that useful and practical commercial and community enterprises and facilities will be part of the Kakaako redevelopment, and within walking distance of most residents?

A: The development of commercial facilities within Kakaako is a function of market forces and not government. Landowners and merchants have already established several great events that foster community with Kakaako such as Eat the Street, Honolulu Night Market, Art and Flea, Farmers Markets, Discover Kakaako and others. However, the Mauka Area Plan and Rules also require dedication of public facilities as a condition for development in the district. This provides support for the construction of parks, housing and public infrastructure that have been developed in Kakaako.

 

Q: How will HCDA assure that elementary and middle school students will be able to walk or ride a bicycle from their residences to school?

A: The provision of public school facilities is administered by the Department of Education. As part of the TOD Overlay Plan, the HCDA is proposing a complete street plan for the district. Complete streets provide for the safe use of the street by cars, bicycles, and pedestrians.

Reserved and Workforce Housing

Q: How many reserved housing units have been sold in the Kakaako Mauka Master Plan development area during the last five years that were available to be purchased by the HCDA? How many of these units were actually purchased by HCDA? How much money has HCDA budgeted to purchase these properties? How many reserved housing units have been developed and where are they located?

A:  In 2006, legislation was approved prohibiting the HCDA from selling fee simple interest in any lands in the Kakaako Community Development District (§206E-31.5). Since then, the HCDA elected to refrain from buying back reserved housing units, as the HCDA would not be allowed to resell the units.  However, in the 2014 Legislative Session, lawmakers lifted this prohibition, and the HCDA is now allowed to buy back reserved units during the regulated term.

In the past 5 years there have been at least 5 reserved housing units that were available for the HCDA to purchase and resell. The HCDA depends on legislative funding for buying back reserved housing units, as the HCDA does not receive a budget to make such purchases.

 

Q: Using the HUD criteria of 100-140% of AMI ($87,900- $123,050 for a family of four), what percentage of Hawaii’s households can actually afford “reserved housing”?

A: Data from The State of Hawaii Data Book 2012 indicates that approximately 145,313 households on Oahu can afford reserved housing. This number is approximately 32.6 percent of the total household on Oahu.

 

Q: Why is the HCDA’s reserved housing requirement tied to the 100-140% AMI ($87,900- $123,050 for a family of four income level) rather than 80-100% AMI ($80,450 – $87,900 for a family of four income level) or <60% AMI (<$60,350 for a family of four income level) if HCDA statutes refer to “increasing low- to moderate-income housing”?

What types of controls has the HCDA implemented in its rules to prevent buyers from reselling reserved housing units to wealthy buyers who would not qualify for such housing?

A: HCDA’s reserved housing requirement is not limited to 100-140% of the AMI. Rather, HCDA Reserved Housing Rules state that the units must be priced affordable for those making a maximum of 140% AMI.

Developers can access Federal, State, and county funding/subsidies when developing housing that serves households at 60% or below of the AMI. By contrast, there is limited (if any) government funding available for developing housing that serves households at 100-140% of AMI.  Because of this, the HCDA chooses to target this “gap group” or working class individuals, who make too much money to qualify for government assistance like Section 8, but make too little to afford market priced housing.  Many of the reserved housing units in Kakaako are targeted to this gap group of buyers.

Reserved housing units are currently regulated for up to 10 years, which means that if an owner of a reserved housing wants to sell the units, the HCDA retains the first option to purchase. However, even once the regulated period expires, the original buyer still owes HCDA shared equity in the unit.  The shared equity is the difference between the unit’s market price and the actual price the buyer paid, which is generally lower than market value.  Because of this shared equity provision, buyers of reserved housing generally cannot collect “windfall profits” when they sell after their regulated term is up, as they would still owe much of that money to the HCDA upon first sale of the unit, regardless if they sell within 10 years, 20 years, 50 years, or more.

 

Q: If the HCDA’s focus is to stimulate the production of housing units for “workforce buyers” at the 100%-140% AMI income level, how does this focus fulfill HCDA’s purpose and intent “to establish an increased supply of housing for residents of low or moderate-income “ within Kakaako Community Development District, as stated in HCDA Rules §15-218-1 and HRS 206E?

A: Reserved housing and/or workforce housing is just one aspect of what the HCDA is doing in developing affordable housing in the KCDD. The HCDA has worked with other State agencies and private developers to develop affordable housing at and below 80% of the AMI. Some of these projects include Pohulani, Na Lei Hulu Kupuna, Honuakaha, Kauhale Kakaako, Kamakee Vista, all of which are at 80% or below of the AMI. The newly completed Halekauwila Place offers 204 rental units to low income families making 60% AMI or less. Rycroft Terrace offers fee-simple condominiums to buyers making as little as 30% AMI.

 

Q: What is the income range for low- or moderate-income housing? Does this income range differ from the workforce income range consisting of 100% up to 140% of the AMI? SEE HCDA 7-30-13 PRESENTATION FOR RESPONSE.

A: In the presentation, low-income housing was stated to be affordable for households making less than or equal to 60% AMI and moderately priced housing would be obtainable by a family making less than or equal to 140% AMI. See the “2014 HCDA AMI chart” for the various income levels adjusted by family size.

 

Q: How does the HCDA ensure that units sold as reserved housing are not resold to people earning more than the 100-140% AMI income level?

A: Reserved housing units are regulated for up to 10 years, which means that if an owner of a reserved housing wants to sell the units, the HCDA has the first option to purchase the unit. While there is no way to control the income limit of the second buyer of the housing unit after the regulated term, there is one factor that controls “flipping.”  Once the regulated period expires, the original buyer still owes HCDA shared equity in the unit.  The shared equity is the difference between the unit’s market price and the actual price the buyer paid initially, which is generally lower than market value.  Because of this shared equity provision, buyers of reserved housing generally cannot collect “windfall profits” when they sell after their regulated term is up, as they would still owe much of that money to the HCDA upon first sale of the unit, regardless if they sell after the regulated term.

Q: Why is workforce housing put into the same grouping as reserved housing (e.g., see HCDA 7-30-13 presentation)?

A: Both programs seek to increase housing opportunities to households earning less that 140% of the AMI, or the “working class” or “gap group.” However, the provisions of each program are slightly  different in their execution.

 

Q: What is the distinction between “workforce” and “affordable” housing, and how many of the projects will be affordable senior rentals,and at what price?

A: “Affordable” is a relative term, as what may be affordable to one person may not be affordable to another.  The HCDA has two types of housing: Workforce Housing and Reserved Housing.  Both of these are priced to be “affordable” those making less than 140% AMI.  This means these units are priced so that a family will not spend more than 33% of their gross income on housing expenses (which includes mortgage, monthly maintenance fees, property taxes, and mortgage insurance premiums).

HCDA and HHFDC have previously developed housing specifically targeted for seniors (e.g., Pohulani, Honuakaha, Na Lei Hulu Kupuna). However, it should be noted that seniors with incomes of 60% of AMI are also eligible to occupy any rental units targeting this income range such as the newly developed low-income rental, Halekauwila Place.

See the “HCDA Total Housing Summary” for a comprehensive list of all of the HCDA-approved housing developments since the agency’s creation in 1976, including a listing of the various AMI levels each reserved housing development serves.

Q:  Why does the HCDA restrict sales to households at the median income of $82,600 for a family of four, when the national definition of “workforce housing” means housing for “essential workers” like policemen (average salary $65,890), LPN nurses ($48,570) and retail salespersons ($26,280)? What is HCDA doing to ensure that Kakaako has housing for “essential workers”?

A:  Typically single person households such as you describe do not purchase housing, they rent. It is much more common for two-income households to purchase housing since they have more income. In the examples cited above, a retail salesperson and a nurse living together would have a combined income of $74,850, which would mean their family of two would make about 105% AMI. They would generally qualify for much of the reserved housing offered in Kakaako.

The qualified income formula is adjusted for households with 1 to “many” household members. Reserved housing is available to households earning 140% or less of the AMI. Reserved housing that has been developed in the KCDD range from being affordable to those making 60% to 140% AMI, covering a broad spectrum of household income.  These units already house many essential workers.

 

Q:  State law requires HCDA to build and manage “low or moderate income housing.” But HCDA is approving “reserved housing” projects that only 3- person households making $109,000 a year could afford-the top 25% of Honolulu’s residents. Why is HCDA not following the law and creating “low and moderate income housing” in Kakaako?

A: The HCDA is creating low- to moderate-income housing in the KCDD. The range of reserved housing available in the KCDD is from 60% to 140% of the AMI with household members of one to “many.”  In the case of a family of three, they would qualify for reserved housing in Kakaako as long as they made a total of less than $110,750 a year.

Building extremely low income housing (for those making under 60% AMI, or less than $54,350 for a family of three) requires hundreds of thousands of dollars in subsidies, which the HCDA does not control.  Instead, other state and federal agencies assist with providing such funding and thereby produce housing for much lower income groups.  The HCDA thereby targets the “gap group,” or working families who make too much to qualify for government assistance like Section 8, but make too little to afford market prices in town.

 

Q: How will HCDA ensure that developers provide affordable housing and mixed income developments as required by law? Why doesn’t HCDA provide units reserved for the middle class?

A: The HCDA rules require that about 20% of all new housing constructed in Kakaako is “reserved” for qualified income households. Reserved housing units are intended to serve those households in the gap between affordable and market housing. These households would qualify as being for the middle class.

 

Q: Does HCDA’s “first option to purchase” apply to workforce housing as it does to reserved housing? What prevents wealthy parents from assisting a child who meets the 100-140% AMI threshold from living in a unit for 365 days and then selling?

A: The HCDA’s first option to purchase does not apply to workforce housing projects. The only way an applicant, including a descendant of a wealthy family, could receive a workforce housing unit is if that applicant qualified on his own and made less than or equal to 140% of the area median income.

Currently the only workforce housing project in Kakaako is 801 South Street. Unlike other developments, 801 South Street has limited amenities like no fitness center or pool, making it less desirable to “flip” or resell after a short period of time.

 

Q: Will HCDA have rules to prevent residential housing from being turned into vacation rental units?

A: Short-term rentals or transient housing projects are not permitted by the HCDA rules in the KCDD.

 

Traffic and Infrastructure

Q: How will the HCDA improve the current traffic congestion in the Kakaako when the agency plans to approve more developments?

A: The overall goal for Kakaako is to make it an urban, mixed use, walkable neighborhood. The HCDA’s goal of creating complete streets, transit oriented development, and numerous community amenities and services within the district will encourage people to walk, bicycle, or take mass transit instead of drive. Current levels of congestion on regional transit corridors like Ala Moana Boulevard, Ward Avenue and Piikoi Street are actually the result of through traffic and not neighborhood traffic. Solutions to regional traffic congestion include establishing walkable communities and constructing transit systems such as HART and modes of transportation that do not only cater to cars.

 

Q: Has HCDA considered the traffic impacts upon the entire Kakaako development region, in anticipation that proposed developments will be approved and built? Would we have less traffic or more?

A: The HCDA has prepared a regional traffic study as part of the EIS for the Mauka Area Plan. It is available at the OEQC website. In addition, the HCDA requires developers to prepare a traffic impact assessment report (TIAR) for each individual development project and to complete any mitigation efforts prior to building.

It is our expectation that with the transportation and demand management strategies identified in the TOD overlay plan, that Kakaako residents will choose alternate modes of transportation to the car. However, finding solutions to congestion related to regional through traffic will continue to be the responsibility of the greater community and not the HCDA or Kakaako residents.

 

Q: Will streets in Kakaako be widened?

A: The majority of the streets in Kakaako are not planned to be widened. They are planned to be more efficient, designed as complete streets and to accommodate multiple modes of transportation like walking, bicycling, and mass transit.

 

Q: Are there plans to open Auahi Street between Ward Avenue and Cooke Street as part of the Mauka Area plan?

A: There are plans being reviewed to potentially connect Auahi Street near Ward Avenue or to extend Pohukaina Street near Ward Avenue to connect with Auahi Street.

 

Q: What is HCDA’s definition of “infrastructure”? Does it include the quality and capacity of the infrastructure outside the Kakaako region that will service Kakaako?

A: Infrastructure is defined as the basic physical and organizational structures needed for the operation of the district such as roads, water supply, sewers, electrical grids, telecommunications, and so forth. The HCDA also takes into consideration the traffic analysis zone (TAZ) established by the City in determining the infrastructure capacity within Kakaako.

 

Q:  Are developers required to pay for infrastructure improvements related to their developments? How much must they pay for such improvements? Will the taxpayer have to share the costs for improvements? If so, how much of that cost will taxpayers incur?
A: Developers are required to make any improvements necessary in order for the infrastructure to support their proposed development.  The private developer would be responsible for funding these upgrades on their own.  Taxpayers will not pay for any infrastructure improvements that are specifically required for new developments.

 

Q:  What infrastructure upgrades must be completed before a developer starts building a project?
A: The requirement for infrastructure upgrades are reviewed on a project-by- project basis. Various city and state agencies assist in determining adequacy, for example, The Board of Water Supply determines sewer and water capacity.  There may be situations where the existing infrastructure is sufficient and no improvements are required.

 

Q: When will substandard Kakaako roads, sidewalks, and drainage systems be improved?

A: Over the past several decades there has been hundreds of millions of dollars in infrastructure and road improvements. There are road improvements that are planned to take place as a part of both master planned areas within Kakaako. However, stakeholders in the Central Kakaako neighborhood have resisted any improvement to roadway and drainage facilities that will cause a loss of their frontage that is typically associated with the construction of City standard roadway facilities. As such improvements require legislative appropriations, there is no timetable for any improvements in the Central Kakaako neighborhood.

 

Q: How will the State recover the $260 million infrastructure improvements made by the State in Kakaako?

A: Landowners in Kakaako have paid their fair share for those infrastructure improvements made in the district. In addition, development in Kakaako has generated additional tax base for the State for both general excise tax and income tax. Similarly, the development has significantly increased the property tax base for the City.  The investment in infrastructure was done to specifically drive development and spur the economy in the Kakaako area, which has so far been a success.

 

Q: Will the current infrastructure in Kakaako be able to accommodate proposed developments? When were the last infrastructure improvements made in Kakaako?

A: The last improvement district, which improved infrastructure within Kakaako took place in 2007. Twelve different improvement projects have taken place over the last few decades, worth over $225 million. This includes road, sewer, water, storm drainage and utility repairs.  The 2009 EIS identifies what additional improvements are necessary for full build out of the Mauka Area Plan.  In addition, all developers are required to provide any additional infrastructure that is deemed necessary for their individual projects.

 

Q: What infrastructure impact fees are developers required to pay for the strains their projects may inflict on the Kakaako development area? What is HCDA doing to assess and enforce impact fees upon developers?
A:  The HCDA has established improvement district (ID) projects that are targeted to improve the infrastructure within Kakaako. Several ID projects have already been completed. When the ID projects are planned and implemented, adjacent land is assessed and a portion of the improvement costs are paid for by the adjacent and benefiting land owners. The HCDA development permit rules requires that developers are responsible for any and all infrastructure improvements required for their project.

 

Q:  What public facility dedications for open space/parks are developers required to provide under the 2011 Mauka Area Plan and Rules?
A:  Applicable Improvement and Development projects are required to provide public facilities land dedication that is equivalent to a minimum of 3% of the total commercial floor area and 4% of the total residential floor area, exclusive of floor area devoted to reserved housing. As an alternative to the dedication requirement, a cash in-lieu fee payment may be authorized so that the HCDA can use the funds for other community development projects.

 

Q: State law requires HCDA to create “open space, parks … within and adjacent to residential developments. Where are the new parks? Where are the parks and open spaces comparable to the City’s requirements of 2 acres for every 1,000 new residents?

A: Since its creation in 1976, the HCDA has developed about 45 acres of park land in Kakaako, including Kakaako Waterfront Park, Kakaako Gateway Parks, Kewalo Basin Park, Kolowalu Park as well as other pocket parks in the district. There are also 112 acres of parklands on the boundaries of Kakaako, which include Thomas Square Park, Ala Moana Beach Park, and Magic Island State Park.

The city’s park requirement of 2 acres of park space for every 1,000 people calculates out to a requirement of 24 acres of Kakaako park space to support the current population, and 60 acres for the projected Kakaako population in the year 2030. Currently, there are 45.27 acres of park in the Kakaako Community Development District, which is well within the standards for the current population. Because parks are not restricted for the use of a certain geographical population, it is reasonable to say that neighboring parks like Ala Moana Beach Park can and will service the growing Kakaako population.  So when these parks are factored in, the acreage of parks available to Kakaako residents increases to 157.7 acres, over double the city’s requirement.

 

Q: What protective measures are being considered for Mother Waldron Park? Will developers be financially responsible for some park improvements and maintenance?

A: The HCDA has plans to keep Mother Waldron a park.  Stanford Carr Development has stepped in to renovate the park with new equipment and landscaping, using funds leftover from the construction of the neighboring affordable rental project, Halekauwila Place.

 

Q:  What is being done to ensure that Oahu’s landfills could absorb an increase in solid waste associated with Kakaako developments?
A:  The City and County of Honolulu manages the waste within Kakaako. The HCDA sends copies of the building renderings over to the City and County of Honolulu for their review prior to approval of any development project.

 

Q: What is being done to ensure that the Sand Island sewage treatment plant is able to absorb an increase in sewage relating to more developments in Kakaako?
A:  The infrastructure capacity for Kakaako was analyzed within the Mauka Area EIS. In addition to the EIS, each individual project is reviewed to confirm that there is infrastructure capacity to sustain the project prior to or as a condition on the project’s approval. As any improvement to the Sand Island sewage treatment plant would benefit all users of the plant, the cost for such improvements would have to be borne by all rate payers.

 

Q:  Can the current sewage infrastructure handle the planned developments? What upgrades need to be made?

A: Howard Hughes Corp. is making some sewage infrastructure improvements as a part of the Ward Neighborhood Master Plan and hundreds of millions of dollars (approximately $225M) have already been invested into improving Kakaako’s infrastructure over the course of 12 improvement district projects. Other upgrades might necessarily be required as projects throughout the city are reviewed and approved.

 

Q: How does HCDA ensure that an adequate amount of water is available to service proposed developments in the Kakaako area?

A: The HCDA is in direct communication with the City and County of Honolulu’s Board of Water Supply and provides them with project information to review prior to approving any development permit application. An April 2013 BWS report indicates that the authorized total pumpage for all six Honolulu water districts is 191.71 mgd and the pumpage is 129.53 mgd. The authorized use for Honolulu is 45.27 mgd and pumpage is 34.66 mgd.

 

Q: How will HCDA ensure that an adequate amount of schools are available to absorb an increase in population due to future developments in Kakaako? Is HCDA going to provide land for schools? Are developers going to build schools in Kakaako? Where will they build schools?

A: The DOE has sole jurisdiction over the maintenance and construction of all public school facilities. The HCDA is discussing this matter with the DOE since they are the most aware of the overall need for school facilities in the area. The HCDA requires that any new development must comply with any DOE requirements, including but not limited to any impact fees or facility requirements that they may impose.

The current family size in Kakaako is 1.9, which doesn’t imply an abundance of children.  However, with an increase in reserved housing, we expect more families to move into the area.  Area elementary schools are nearing capacity, and the HCDA is in discussion with the DOE on the best way to move forward.

 

Q: How will HCDA ensure that an adequate amount of supermarkets are available to service a growing population associated with proposed developments in Kakaako?

A: A Whole Foods grocery store is being planned as part of the Ward Village neighborhood. The HCDA encourages a mix of land uses and definitely encourages the development of a supermarket that will meet the needs of the growing community. A typical full service grocery store occupies 35-40,000 sf and serves a population greater than the 12,000 residents of Kakaako. As the population of Kakaako increases, more services and community amenities are expected to follow the flow of residents.

 

Q: How will emergency and first responders be able to handle the increase in population associated with Kakaako developments? What is the evacuation plan if a natural disaster were to occur?

A: The EIS conducted for the Mauka Area Plan addresses emergency and first responder issues. A copy of the EIS can be obtained from the OEQC.

 

Q: Has HCDA considered the impacts of sea-level rise on infrastructure and proposed developments?

A: Yes. The HCDA has started discussion with sea-level rise experts regarding the possible impacts in the district. Such impacts are expected to occur over many years, but we are already preparing for them. To mitigate the future impact of sea level rise, and the possibility of flooding or tsunami inundation, ground floor levels in all new developments are being raised at least 7 feet above the ground. Other disaster resiliency measures are also considered, such as placing all essential building equipment above the ground floor (i.e. boiler rooms, elevator equipment, etc.).

HCDA Rules and TOD Overlay

Q: Why has HCDA not sought community involvement in the form of a TOD advisory council to provide input/feedback on HCDA’s TOD development recommendations? Will it do so when the TOD designs for each anticipated rail station in Kakaako are developed?

A: The HCDA has reached out to the community stakeholders regarding the TOD Overlay. The draft TOD Overlay Plan for the KCDD is currently available online for public review and comments.  A second phase of the community outreach process will be conducted as the Environmental Impact Statement for the TOD overlay plan, as there are formal comment requirements. There will also be another phase during the rulemaking process. At each point in the process, there will be outreach to stakeholders and the general public.

The HART process for their rail stations is separate, as the HCDA does not have jurisdiction over this. This process will cover station design only.

 

Q: Please explain “developer-paid impact fees.” How much are these fees? How are they used?

A: Any school impact fees will be established by the Department of Education (DOE) and will be used for education purposes. The DOE is in the process of determining these fees, but the HCDA requires developers within the development districts to comply with all DOE requirements. Other agencies such as the Board of Water Supply, Departments of Transportation Services/Environmental Services and/or Transportation may also impose requirements on developers, which must be met prior to building.

 

Q:How does Kakaako redevelopment stop sprawl? What is the vision for the Kakaako Mauka Area Plan?

A: The vision for the Kakaako Mauka Area Plan is to redevelop Kakaako into a dense urban community with virtually everything necessary for everyday life within walking distance. Each development built in Kakaako and Honolulu’s urban core is one less development built out in the sprawling suburbs, or on currently untouched and undeveloped land.

It is estimated that during the next two to five years that over 5,000 residential units might be constructed in Kakaako Mauka. Alternately, the Koa Ridge development will use 576 acres for approximately 3,500 units. These new housing units in Kakaako would cover about 400 acres of land and would eliminate the need for approximately 1.5 Koa Ridge type developments elsewhere on Oahu.

 

Q: Why is HCDA not using the same TOD planning and zoning requirements that the City uses? Please identify the standards used by HCDA to develop its TOD proposal.

A: The HCDA is developing a set of TOD regulations separate from, but highly integrated with, the City and County of Honolulu’s TOD regulations because the HCDA has planning and zoning jurisdiction within Kakaako. The draft TOD plan is currently available on HCDA website (www.hcdaweb.org) for public review and comment.

It is our belief that the standards already in place and proposed in the TOD overlay represent the best practice as evidenced by what has already been established in other jurisdictions.  Please see the complete TOD Plan for more details on why various elements were chosen to be part of the proposal.

 

Q: Why does HCDA’s proposed TOD overlay allow density five times what the City permits? What is HCDA’s justification for allowing buildings that will be higher than City TOD height limits?

A: The density in the TOD overlay counts parking as floor area, whereas the City’s density excludes parking. The Business Mixed Use (BMX-4) zoning in the City Land Use Ordinance (LUO) is comparable in land use/density and height currently established in the KCDD. The City’s LUO permits a density of 7.5 in the Business Mixed Use District (BMX-4). The KCDD TOD Overlay Plan is proposing a maximum density of up to 12 on some parcels included in the TOD overlay. It’s important to note the proposed density of 12 in the draft TOD plan is actually comparable to the currently maximum allowable density specified in the City’s LUO, when you accommodate for parking spaces.

The City has not yet completed development of its TOD plan. It is expected that increased density and height will be allowed within its plan. The City has not yet proposed what its TOD height limit will be for urban areas such as Ala Moana.

 

Q: Did the HCDA provide opportunities for community input when developing the TOD overlay plan? If HCDA did not provide for community input, why not?

A: The TOD plan is currently in draft form. The draft TOD plan is available at the HCDA website (www.hcdaweb.org) for public review and comment.  We welcome all comments and suggestions as we move toward finalizing the plan.

 

Q: To what extent has the proposed TOD Overlay Plan taken into consideration the community input provided for the Mauka Area Plan and Rules adopted in 2011?

A: The Mauka Area Plan formed the basis for the draft TOD Overlay Plan. We seek to ensure that the specifications of the 2011 rules calling for a compact walkable community is further implemented by the TOD Overlay Plan.

 

Q: When did HCDA submit an EIS Preliminary Notice for the TOD overlay proposal?

Did it provide community representatives like neighborhood boards and elected officials with notice at that time so they could comment on the plan?

A: An EIS PN for the TOD Overlay Plan was published in the Office of Environmental Quality Control, Environmental Notice on December 23, 2012. All parties that are required by HRS, Chapter 343, and HAR, Title 11, Chapter 200 were notified of the EIS PN publication.

 

Q: Is the HCDA applying both 2005 and 2011 Mauka Plan Rules to approve projects? If yes, what projects have been approved using both the 2005 and 2011 Mauka Area Plan Rules? What legal authority allows HCDA to approve projects under both 2005 and 2011 Mauka Area Plan Rules?

A: The Ward Neighborhood Master Plan (Howard Hughes Corporation) and the Kaiaulu O Kakaako Master Plan (Kamehameha Schools) were approved and vested under the 2005 rules (Chapter 22). Therefore, the HCDA is required to consider all development projects within those master plan permits under the vested 2005 rules. All other development projects are reviewed and approved under the 2011 rules (Chapter 217). HRS, Section 206E-4 provides the legal authority for the HCDA to develop and implement community development plan and rules.

Variances and Modifications

Q: What standards or measurements are used by the HCDA when reviewing or approving modifications authorized under its “workforce housing” rules?

Are HCDA standards similar to City standards for modifications or variances? How are they different?

A:  The HCDA utilizes the provisions of Mauka Area Rules, Section 15-217-80(d)(1) in reviewing any modification request. The City and County utilizes the provisions of Revised Charter of Honolulu, Section 6-1517 in considering a variance.

 

Q: If HCDA is trying to reduce car usage, why does the HCDA allow for height variances for building podiums?

A:  Increases in podium height do not necessarily mean increases in the number of parking stalls.  A developer can choose to provide more parking without increasing the podium height by simply using a larger footprint for a parking garage, or a developer can use a smaller footprint and build a taller parking garage for the same number of stalls. Consideration of requests for modification of podium height take into account several factors. For example, subsurface conditions, existence of potential subsurface archaeological materials, and commercial/ retail uses at the ground floor are considered in reviewing a modification request. A developer may choose a smaller footprint for their parking garage so that they can fit more retail shops and pedestrian friendly features at the ground level. However in order to maintain the same number of parking stalls, the developer would have to increase podium height to accommodate for the additional features at the ground level.

 

Q:  Does the HCDA use the City’s Zoning Variance Guidebook’s principle that states variances should be difficult to obtain? How does HCDA determine whether a variance have an adverse effect upon the surrounding neighborhood?
A:  Mauka Area Rules, Section 15-217-82 provide the provisions for considering a variance request.

 

Q:  Why did the HCDA approve the 404 Ward project when the spacing between buildings or towers was less than the required 300’ distance? Was this considered a modification to the rules? Why or why not?

A: The HCDA 2005 (Chapter 22) rules provide that to the extent practicable, tower spacing shall be at least 300 feet between the long parallel side of neighboring towers. Given the physical dimensions of the 404 Ward parcel and other setback requirements, it is not “practicable” for the 404 Ward parcel to support the 300 feet tower separation distance. Given the allowance that the tower separation distance is to the “extent practicable,” there is no absolute requirement on tower separation, so the project abides by the rules.

 

Q:  How does the HCDA quantify and determine the cumulative impact of any combination of variances?

A:  Variances are considered on a case-by-case basis.

 

Q: Will future building projects seeking variances of more than 200 feet be approved?

A:  A variance or modification in building height can only be requested where the project involves the construction of “workforce housing.” Otherwise a modification of building height is not allowed. The HCDA will only approve variances if they meet the required findings of fact specified in Section 15-217-82 of the Mauka Area Rules.

 

Q:  How is HCDA going to uphold its Mauka Area Plan view corridors? Ward’s Master Plan shows an intrusion into the Kamakee Street view corridor as a result of its self-imposed hardship; does this self-imposed hardship justify an intrusion?

A:  The Authority decided on August 21, 2013 that the proposed project on Land Block 2 of the Ward Neighborhood Master Plan shall not encroach in the view corridor and that the required view corridor distance shall remain. This decision resulted in a condition on the permit that requires any future development across Kamakee Street to be setback a greater distance in order to maintain the view corridor.

 

Q:  What must developers do to obtain a height variance for a new residential building?

A:  See answer to question #6 above. A variance or modification in height can only be requested where it involves the construction of workforce housing.

 

Q:  What criteria is HCDA using to evaluate minor modifications – e.g., is there a requirement that the modification will improve the development project?

A: For development projects vested under the 2005 rules (Chapter 22), Sections 15-22-22, 15-22-88, and 15-22-120 establish the criteria for considering a modification request. 2011 rules (Chapter 217 and 218) do not have a provision for modification, except for qualifying Workforce Housing.

 

Q: Wouldn’t it make sense to remove all parking requirements if HCDA plans a true transit orientated community? What improvements to public transportation (apart from mass transit) are planned to move people through the region?

A: The HCDA plans to remove parking minimums as a part of the TOD Overlay. The HCDA is a strong advocate to construct Complete Streets and believes that such a network of multi-modal transportation is necessary within Kakaako. The HCDA is working with the City to implement a complementary complete streets plan and is also looking into a circulator trolley service that connects Waikiki, Downtown, the Central Business District, Kakaako, and the Ala Moana Shopping Center.

Other Issues

Q: Why is HCDA deciding on developments piecemeal, on a project-by- project basis, which makes it very difficult for the community to get the information or have concerns addressed by the developer or by HCDA?

A: The Mauka Area Plan is a development plan for the whole Kakaako Community Development District. The HCDA conducted a long and involved community review process before adopting this thorough plan. After years of input, the plan and rules were adopted in 2011.  It can be found on the HCDA website at www.hcdaweb.org. In addition to the established plans, there are two master plans from Howard Hughes Corp. and Kamehameha Schools that have been approved along with the district master plan, which are also available on the website.  All of these plans have been part of public discussion for years.

 

Q: Why aren’t local companies the developers for these projects?

A: There are several projects currently being proposed by local developers in Kakaako. However, the HCDA cannot regulate who can and cannot do business within Kakaako, as private landowners are responsible for hiring developers according to their various business models.

 

Q: Will government funds or bonds be used to make the HCDA development projects more viable? Will government money or bonds be used to support local business development?

A: Government funds have been used in the past and may be used in the future for improvement district (ID) and/or development projects. Some of the HCDA ID and/or development projects will certainly produce benefits for local businesses.

 

Q: Will there be community vegetable gardens in Kakaako?

A: There is currently a small community vegetable garden at a HCDA lot on Cooke Street. The residents of the nearby Na Lei Hulu Kupuna senior housing facility use that area. The HCDA is currently working on a community gardening plan to determine the feasibility of creating additional gardens for communal use.