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

Downtown-Chinatown Neighborhood Board No. 13

 

November 2021 Minutes

 

DRAFT REGULAR MEETING MINUTES

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 4, 2021

6:00 P.M. VIA WEBEX

CALL TO ORDER: Chair Pro Tem Sean Fitzsimmons called the Downtown - Chinatown Neighborhood Board No. 13 meeting to order at 6:03 p.m. Quorum was established with nine (9) members present. Note: This nine-member Board requires five (5) members to establish quorum and to take official Board action.

Members Present: Robert Armstrong, Ernest Caravalho, Sean Fitzsimmons, Ara Laylo, Kevin Lye, Lori McCarney, Kevin McDonald, Chu Lan Shubert-Kwock, Laura Sturges.

Members Absent: None.

Guests: Sergeant Aaron Ostachuk (Honolulu Police Department); Steven Norstrom, David Ebersold, Ernest Lau, Barry Usagawa, Kathleen Pahinui, Ellen Kitamura (Board of Water Supply); Greg Payton (Mental Health Kokua); Ian Santee (Mayor Blangiardi's Representative); Councilmember Carol Fukunaga, Kim Ribellia; Senator Karl Rhoads; Layce Yamauchi (Representative Saiki's Office); Grace Simmons (Department of Health); Roger Babcock, Dawn Szewczyk, Janice Jensen, J.B. Hinds, Cami Kloster (Group 70, Storm Water Utility); Keolu Peralto, Reverend Won-Seok Yuh Harris, Noe Tanigawa, Maria Tijerina, Carlos Santana (Residents); Claire Tamamoto (Neighborhood Commissioner); Dylan Buck (Neighborhood Commission Office). There were 32 total attendees.

BOARD BUSINESS

Election of Board Officers

Chair: Lye nominated McDonald for Chair. Sturges nominated Caravalho for Chair. Hearing no other nominations, the board took a roll-call vote. Election of Chair was deferred to the next meeting as no candidate received a majority of votes; (4-4-1) (McDonald: Armstrong, Laylo, Lye, McDonald; Caravalho: Fitzsimmons, Shubert-Kwock, Sturges, Caravalho; Abstain: McCarney).

Secretary: Caravalho nominated Lye for Secretary, Lye declined. Lye nominated Armstrong for Secretary, Armstrong declined. Hearing no other nominations, election of Secretary was deferred to the next meeting.

PUBLIC SAFETY REPORTS

Honolulu Fire Department (HFD): No representative present. Statistics can be found at https://fire.honolulu.gov/.

Honolulu Police Department (HPD): Sergeant Aaron Ostachuk reported statistics and a safety tip for theft prevention, found at https://www.honolulupd.org/.

Questions, comments, and concerns followed.

1. 24/7 Foot Patrol: Shubert-Kwock commented that the Foot Patrol service by HPD is important to the community and requested that at least two (2) officers be on patrol at all times.

2. Noise Disturbance: Lye reported noise disturbances regarding a rooster at 1171 Nu'uanu Avenue, and asked how HPD would respond to reports of such. Sergeant Ostachuk responded that HPD does enforce the noise disturbance laws, but the Humane Society or another organization handles the eradication.

3. Legislation: McDonald asked what laws or ordinances the public can ask our legislatures to introduce/support that may help HPD with the problems they are currently facing and requested that an HPD Legislative Liaison attend one of these meetings. Sergeant Ostachuk responded that he will pass that request up the chain of command.

4. Drug Arrests: Caravalho asked why the HPD officers in their patrol vehicles do not confront all the people they drive by that are smoking illegal substances in broad daylight at parks and on the streets. Sergeant Ostachuk responded that the officers could be responding to other calls for service, and that they have made around 50 drug arrests in the last two months alone.

5. Homeless Sweeps: McDonald asked about the permanency of HPD's homeless sweep service. Sergeant Ostachuk responded that the goal is to persuade them from coming back, there is no specific timeline that says the homeless individual cannot return after a certain amount of time has passed.

Neighborhood Citizen Patrol: Lye presented images and reported observations by the patrol during the prior month, including Lye inviting the public to walk with the patrol on Tuesday evenings, departing at 7:00 p.m. from the Diamond Head Tower lobby of Kukui Plaza. Please be advised that the departure time has been changed to 7:00 p.m.

Questions, comments, and concerns followed.

1. Chinatown Citizen Patrol: Shubert-Kwock noted that the Chinatown Citizen Patrol meets every other Thursday at 8:30 a.m.

2. City-Led Improvements: Armstrong thanked Lye for pointing out the problems at the corner of Vineyard and Nu'uanu as the City has been lethargic in terms of getting the new polls up, and added that the workers left cardboard boxes around which the homeless have now claimed and added to the environment.

MONTHLY REPORTS

Board of Water Supply (BWS): Steven Norstrom reported the following.

• Breaks: There was a six (6) inch water main break at 814 Kinau Street.

• Scammers: BWS reminded everyone to be vigilant and protect yourself by recognizing scams as we approach the holidays.

• General Announcements: The BWS report, general announcements, and additional information can be found at: www.boardofwatersupply.com.

Safe Haven: Greg Payton [gpayton@mhkhawaii.org] reported the following.

• Statistics: From January 2021 to October 2021, 74 individuals have been housed and provided with several care facilities. In October 2021 this organization has housed 20 people, three (3) people got employed and three (3) people entered into substance abuse treatment.

• Punawai Rest Stop: Even during Covid-19, this facility sees about 230 people a month and 2,500 duplicated people every year.

Questions, comments, and concerns followed. Relocation: Lye asked for an update on the longevity of Safe Haven's current location. Payton responded that Safe Haven will be relocating within the next year but no specifics are available at this time.

Oahu Metropolitan Planning Organization (OahuMPO) Citizen Advisory Committee (CAC): Caravalho reported that the CAC meeting topics included the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program (EBBP), right-of-ways, environmental elements, stormwater infrastructure, climate change, roundabouts, re-naming streets, re-claiming streets, and the Complete Streets project.

ELECTED OFFICIALS

Governor David Ige's Representative: There was no representative present.

Mayor Rick Blangiardi's Representative: Ian Santee [isantee@honolulu.gov] reported the following.

• Illegal Vacation Rentals: The City Department of Planning and Permitting (DPP) is working on a measure that would get illegal short-term vacation rentals out of our residential communities and boost the number of housing units available to local residents. The measure would allow all legal bed-and-breakfast and transient vacation units to continue operating, but would not allow any new short-term vacation rental properties in residential areas. The new measure aims to give residential neighborhoods back to the community, and prevent unknown visitors from coming in week after week. To see all the proposed amendments, visit: (http://www.honolulu.gov/visitors/icalrepeat.detail/2021/09/08/13476/-/planning-commission-meeting.html).

• Follow-Ups: Santee provided responses for several questions asked at the previous meeting, and was available for questions.

Questions, comments, and concerns followed.

1. Nuisance Animals: Lye asked if a private property owner is responsible for nuisance animals while the animal(s) are on their property. Lye followed up by asking if a private property owner may skirt these statutes, namely ROH Chapter 7 Article 2, while the City has no Animal Control contractor.

2. Feeding Feral Animals: Armstrong asked what, if any, actions the City might take in order to inform citizens that they should not feed the feral chickens/pigeons.

3. HPD Foot Patrol: Shubert-Kwock encouraged HPD to extend their Foot Patrol Service into 2022 as it appears to be improving the community, with a focus on arresting drug dealers.

4. Non-Profits Funding: McCarney requested that the City and County of Honolulu strongly consider using remaining CARES Act funds to reinstate the previously contracted agreements with multiple non-profit organizations that help make our communities better.

5. Restrictions: McDonald asked what the Mayor's plans are for the lifting of all Covid-19 restrictions entirely.

6. Power Washing: Caravalho requested that the City and County of Honolulu schedule another round of power washing for the sidewalks/streets of Downtown-Chinatown.

Councilmember Carol Fukunaga (District 6): Councilmember Fukunaga [cafukunaga@honolulu.gov] reported an update on the fire sprinkler legislation, how only 9 out of about 300 condominium properties meet the fire sprinkler codes, the CORE Homeless Outreach Program, the City's Rental and Utility Relief Program, and a shout-out to Board Member Lye for his efforts in contacting the Department of Health (DOH) regarding feral animals.

Questions, comments, and concerns followed. CORE: Shubert-Kwock commented that the CORE Program is great for the community, but they need to expand their services and means of transportation to more efficiently respond to calls for service and have HPD partner with them to make necessary arrests and assessments. Councilmember Fukunaga responded that the City, State, and Private Departments are currently working to expand the CORE Program because they are aware of these issues.

Senator Karl Rhoads (District 13): Senator Rhoads [senrhoads@capitol.hawaii.gov] reported on the capital improvement funds specifics, feral chickens, and current state of Covid-19 on island, Covid-19 vaccination approvals, Covid-19 booster shots, Covid-19 vaccination clinics, and the Department of Health launching in-home Covid-19 vaccinations.

• Covid-19 Resources: www.hawaiicovid19.com / www.oneoahu.org

• Contact: Senator Rhoads welcomes anyone to contact him with questions or concerns at: (808) 586-6130 or email senrhoads@capitol.hawaii.gov.

Questions, comments, and concerns followed.

1. Feral Chickens: Shubert-Kwock commented her support of Senator Rhoads's efforts to clean up the pigeon poop in the community. Senator Rhoads responded that he is not working on the pigeon poop, but rather the eradication of the feral chickens.

2. Mental Health: Armstrong asked for an update on Senator Rhoads's plans for the upcoming legislation, specifically about mental health. Senator Rhoads explained the overall goal of the mental health bill he plans to push through legislation.

3. Noise Issues: Armstrong asked if Hawai'i has "Quiet Zones", and if so, can they be installed around the community. Senator Rhoads responded that the existing laws against vehicular noise are fairly strict and can be enforced by HPD.

4. Conflict of Interest: Tijerina asked Senator Rhoads if he had disclosed the conflict of interest that arose because of Rhoads's wife being a paid lobbyist for Pacific Resource Partnership (PRP), which is a company that would benefit the most from the Rail Project, before voting in favor of giving more funding to the Rail Project. Senator Rhoads responded that he supported Rail long before his wife worked for PRP, and that he did disclose that information.

Shubert-Kwock left the meeting at 7:34 p.m.; eight (8) members present.

Representative Scott Saiki (District 26): Layce Yamauchi distributed Representative Saiki's newsletter to all the board members and was available to take questions.

Representative Daniel Holt (District 29): There was no representative present.

Representative Ed Case (District 1): There was no representative present.

Shubert-Kwock returned to the meeting at 7:40 p.m.; nine (9) members present.

PUBLIC CONCERNS

New Community Member: Reverend Won-Seok Yuh Harris introduced himself to the Board, announced that he is in the process of moving to the Downtown-Chinatown community, thanked the Board for all the work that they do and volunteered himself if the Board needs any help. Reverend Harris can be contacted via email: won2sree.ministry@gmail.com.

CBCA Announcement: Shubert-Kwock announced that the Chinatown Business Community Association (CBCA) will be meeting at Golden Palace on Tuesday, November 9, 2021 at 10:00 a.m. The CBCA meets every second Tuesday of the month and are joined by City Officials, HPD, Chinatown Stakeholders, and residents.

NEW BUSINESS / PRESENTATIONS

Q&A with the Department of Health (DOH) Vector Control Branch: Lye provided a brief introduction for Grace Simmons and the reasoning for her attendance at this meeting. Grace Simmons presented on the issues that arise in the community when the public consciously or unconsciously feeds the feral animals and was available to answer questions regarding clarification of City/State responsibilities for rats, pigeons, and chickens in Downtown-Chinatown.

Questions, comments, and concerns followed.

1. Homelessness: Caravalho thanked Simmons for her understanding of the homeless population's contribution to these feral animal issues.

2. Resolution: Armstrong asked that Lye work with Simmons to draft a resolution that can be voted on at the December 2021 Downtown-Chinatown Neighborhood Board Meeting. Armstrong added that he disagrees with Caravalho's comments and instead feels that it is the elderly individuals of certain ethnic backgrounds who are feeding the feral animals, not just the homeless population. Chair Pro Tem Fitzsimmons asked what Armstrong meant by "ethnic backgrounds". Armstrong responded by inviting Fitzsimmons to witness the act in the near future.

3. Action: McCarney asked for clarification of any laws that would prohibit community members from taking action themselves by properly disposing of the food that was left for the feral animals.

4. Gratitude: Lye thanked Simmons for her time and hopes that a reasonable solution to these issues can be found as soon as possible.

BWS, Proposed Increase to Water System Facilities Charge: David Ebersold, Ernest Lau, Steven Norstrom, and Barry Usagawa presented the following.

• BWS Master Plan: Looked ahead 30 years, evaluated the entire water system, identified necessary improvements, and balanced needs with costs of providing water to our customers. Over the next 30 years, BWS will invest in 800+ infrastructure projects island-wide, with total costs above $5.3 billion dollars.

• One-Time Charge: The proposed increase will not affect most BWS customers because it is a one-time charge that is paid when a building permit is issued. It is only required when new development requires water from the BWS system and when additional capacity is needed for an existing water service.

• Summary: At this time BWS has three (3) options available to increase the water system facilities charge, which they need to continue services and add more services for future developments. BWS is reaching out to the public for their input to help them understand what option the public feels is most appropriate.

Questions, comments, and concerns followed.

1. Customer Types: McCarney asked about information regarding customer types. Ebersold responded that the majority of customers fall into the single-family residential development. Lau responded that more information on customer types will be provided later.

2. Opposed: McDonald commented in opposition of any increased charges for customers due to the pandemic.

3. Fuel Leak: Caravalho commented in opposition to BWS focusing on this when the Red Hill Fuel leak is a much greater concern.

4. Rebuilding: Lye asked how BWS would charge a rebuilt development that originally had 20 fixture units but now has 25 fixture units. Ebersold responded that only the additional 5 fixture units would be charged.

5. Grandfathered-In: Lye asked if BWS will include a grandfathered-in policy and what the specifics of that may be. Ebersold responded that they would be assessed based on the charges in effect at time of submission.

McDonald MOVED to Motion that the Board oppose any of the proposed BWS increased charges. Hearing no Second, the Motion failed.

Group 70, Storm Water Utility: Due to an emergency, the presenter requested to be added to the December 2021 agenda.

BOARD BUSINESS AND REPORTS

Approval of Regular Meeting Minutes: Lye MOVED and Caravalho SECONDED the Motion to adopt the October 7, 2021 Regular Meeting Minutes as Amended. The Motion PASSED; 8-0-1 (Aye: Armstrong, Caravalho, Fitzsimmons, Laylo, Lye, McDonald, McCarney, Sturges; Nay: None; Abstain: Shubert-Kwock).

Armstrong MOVED and McCarney Seconded the Motion to adopt the July 1, 2021 and September 2, 2021 Regular Meeting Minutes as Written.

Discussion: Opposed: Lye commented that the minutes should be approved after a Chair is elected.

The Motion FAILED; 4-3-2 (Aye: Armstrong, Laylo, McCarney, Sturges; Nay: Caravalho, Lye, McDonald; Abstain: Fitzsimmons, Shubert-Kwock).

Treasurer's Report: The remaining balance was $341.15.

Recess Schedule: Shubert-Kwock MOVED and Sturges SECONDED the Motion to recess in December 2021.

Discussion:

1. January Recess: McCarney requested that the Board consider recessing in January 2022.

2. No Recess: Armstrong noted that in the past this Board chose not to take any recesses.

The Motion FAILED; 1-6-2 (Aye: Caravalho; Nay: Armstrong, Fitzsimmons, Lye, McDonald, McCarney, Sturges; Abstain: Laylo, Shubret-Kwock).

Shubert-Kwock MOVED and Caravalho SECONDED the Motion to recess in January 2022. The Motion PASSED; 6-3-0 (Aye: Caravalho, Fitzsimmons, Laylo, McCarney, Shubert-Kwock, Sturges; Nay: Armstrong, Lye, McDonald; Abstain: None).

Board Member Concerns

Interruptions: Shubert-Kwock raised a concern regarding interruptions by board members during her CBCA announcements. Lye echoed Shubert-Kwock's concerns.

Continue Virtual Meetings: Laylo commented that these meeting should continue virtually because they have helped to reduce the hostile interactions between board members. Caravalho commented in opposition to virtual meetings because he feels that in-person meetings allow the board to better serve the community.

Future Items for Board Consideration: None.

ANNOUNCEMENTS

Next Regular Meeting: The next meeting of the Downtown - Chinatown Neighborhood Board No.13 is scheduled to be held at 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, December 2, 2021 via Webex.

Rebroadcast: Rebroadcasts of Downtown-Chinatown Neighborhood Board 13 meetings are scheduled on lelo channel 49 every third Thursday at 9:00 p.m., as well as 6:00 a.m. on the second and fourth Saturdays of each month. An archive of past meetings may be found on https://olelo.org/olelonet/ upon searching on .

Neighborhood Citizen Patrol: The Downtown-Chinatown Neighborhood Citizen Patrol departs each Tuesday evening at 7:00 p.m. from the Diamond Head tower lobby of Kukui Plaza. Please wear a mask, bring a friend, join the patrol, and help identify areas of concern within our Downtown-Chinatown community.

Archive: Find an archive of handouts and referenced materials apropos to Downtown-Chinatown Neighborhood Board 13 here.

ADJOURNMENT: The meeting was adjourned at 9:00 p.m.

Submitted by: Dylan Buck, Neighborhood Assistant

Reviewed by: Dylan Whitsell, Community Relations Specialist

Final approval by:

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