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Mayor Blangiardi delivers 2024 State of the City address

HONOLULU -- Mayor Rick Blangiardi delivered his 2024 State of the City address on Thursday, announcing to the people of Oʻahu his commitment to standing up two new City and County of Honolulu departments to better serve the public: a stand-alone Department of Ocean Safety, to improve the capabilities of Oʻahu's lifeguards, and the merger of two separate City entities to create the Department of Housing and Land Management, to more closely focus on the City's housing priorities.

Late last week, members of the City's Ocean Safety Task Force unanimously recommended the creation of a new Department of Ocean Safety that would operate independently from the Honolulu Emergency Services Department, which currently oversees the City's Ocean Safety and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) operations.

The Ocean Safety Task Force was formed after last year's State of the City speech, when Mayor Blangiardi directed Dr. Jim Ireland, the director of the City's Honolulu Emergency Services Department, to determine whether Ocean and EMS would function more effectively and efficiently as separate departments.

"It is clear that we need an Ocean Safety department that can be managed and operated with the singular focus of providing a watchful eye over beachgoers along Oʻahu's 227 miles of shoreline," said Mayor Rick Blangiardi.

During the State of the City address, Mayor Blangiardi acknowledged the resolution currently before the Honolulu City Council and pledged to work with councilmembers and Ocean Safety leaders to stand up the department as quickly as possible.

Citing his administration's commitment to being a driving force in the creation of new affordable housing units, the mayor also used the State of the City address to announce his intent to reorganize City government even further -- by creating a new Department of Housing and Land Management.

To do so, the administration will merge the City's Office of Housing, which is administratively housed within the Office of the Mayor, with the real estate functions of the Department of Land Management. The mayor said during his speech that the Department of Housing and Land Management would be responsible for setting housing policy, working to finance housing projects, and relentlessly pushing regulatory and process improvements.

The new department will also be chiefly responsible for carrying out the mission and vision laid out in our administration's first housing plan, which was published last year.

"The synergy in merging these two operations into one will right-size the City's important role in affordable housing," said Mayor Rick Blangiardi. "That role has been strongly supported by the City Council, and for their vision and leadership, I am appreciative and most grateful."

To help the Honolulu Police Department recruit new officers to their police force, Mayor Blangiardi announced during his speech the City's plan to offer $25,000 in recruitment bonuses to police recruits. The bonuses would be paid out as recruits reach certain milestones early in their careers, including upon graduation from the police academy.

"We cannot keep our communities safe if we cannot keep police officers on patrol in those communities," said Mayor Blangiardi.

During his speech, Mayor Blangiardi also talked about a number of the City's other top priorities, including:

  • Plans for the creation of an "iconic" transit-oriented affordable housing community in Iwilei near the future Skyline station, where the City has already acquired the single-largest property adjacent to a current or future rail station that has been designated for affordable housing;
  • The City's progress when it comes to improving the performance of the Department of Planning and Permitting, including details on the implementation that is currently underway of a new permitting system -- replacing software the department has been using for more than 20 years;
  • And details on new roving park crews that will help provide better maintenance and services to City parks along the Waiʻanae Coast and ʻEwa Beach, along with other Central Oʻahu communities.

The full transcript of Mayor Blangiardi's 2024 State of the City Address is available at


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