Thursday, April 26, 2007

Rep. Karl Rhoads on Saving Kukui Gardens

Freshman Representative Karl Rhoads has a piece in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin today about the need for the state to save Kukui Gardens, a 22-acre affordable housing complex on the edge of Chinatown. He writes:
Putting 2,500 people out on the street not only would result in a number of Kukui Gardens residents becoming homeless, but it also would drive up prices for the rest of us. Estimates to build 857 units from scratch fall in the $350-$400 million range. Thus, even though the $131 million [starting] price is substantial, it is much cheaper than the alternatives.

If Hawaii is going to continue to have a middle class, we are going to have to figure out a way to provide workforce housing and housing for our kupuna. While we need to provide more housing, we cannot afford to lose the inventory we already have.

HB667, introduced by Rep. Rhoads, authorizes the state to issue $25 million in general obligation bonds to acquire an interest in the land and improvements of the Kukui Gardens property. Read the rest of the piece here.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Students Bring Peace Day to Hawaii

Vice Speaker Karamatsu credits student members of the Hawai`i Federation of Junior Young Buddhist Association with the recent passage of a bill creating "Peace Day" in Hawaii. House Bill 345 was signed into law as Act 023 by the governor yesterday, April 18, 2007. The law establishes September 21 annually as Peace Day in Hawaii to promote peace programs, improve international relations, and increase educational awareness of peace.

Rep. Karamatsu was inspired to introduce this bill after being approached by Hawai`i Federation of Junior Young Buddhist Association members, who presented a similar resolution to their state council. He chose September 21 because it was already designated as the International Day of Peace by the United Nations. Similar Peace Days are celebrated by more than 200 countries worldwide and include many events and observances such as candlelight vigils and tree planting.

Hawaii now becomes the first state in the country to celebrate a Peace Day holiday. The day will not be an officially-recognized state holiday and will not carry any financial impact to the state.

"In this tumultuous world today, the idea of peace seems far out of reach," said Jonathan Gates, a senior at Kaimuki High School and member of the Hawai`i Federation of Junior Young Buddhist Association. "Peace Day will help to open the doors to facilitate more cooperation in the name of peace education and outreach, which will benefit us all."