Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Committee Passes Measured Response to HCDA

Bills would increase public input, restructure the makeup of the board, and call for fiscal and management audit

The House Committee on Water and Land today passed several bills that seeks to improve the effectiveness of the Hawaii Community Development Authority (HCDA). Among the actions taken, the bills call for a restructuring of the agency’s board, increased opportunity for public input, greater legislative oversight, and a fiscal and management audit of HCDA. 

“After more than eight hours of public testimony on Saturday, the message to us was loud and clear that HCDA needed to make significant changes,” said Representative Cindy Evans, who chairs the House Committee on Water and Land. “But we also know that HCDA’s role is still a valid and important one if conducted appropriately and with more transparency and greater sensitivity to public’s concerns. These bills are intended to help HCDA right the ship.” 

The committee deferred several proposals including those to repeal HCDA and to impose a one year moratorium on the approval of plans and proposals in Kakaako. However, an amended version of HB1867 was passed out of committee for further discussion. Among the changes, the bill would codify current building requirements into law and in effect prohibit HCDA from granting variances for development. 

Another passed measure authorizes the ‘right of action’ that allows the public to challenge development actions by HCDA.

“The public discussion while sometimes heated and unpleasant is critical to what HCDA does,” said Representative Scott Saiki (Kakaako, McCully, Kaheka, Downtown) who introduced the bills relating to HCDA. “As these bills move through the hearings and are fine-tuned, they will give HCDA the tools needed to move forward.”

The following amended measures were passed out of committee. House drafts will be made available on the Capitol website once they have been filed with the clerk’s office. 

HB1863 HD1: Authorizes ‘right of action’ civil suits for persons who challenge the grant or denial of development permits by HCDA.

·     HB1865 HD1: Requires the state auditor to conduct a management and fiscal audit of HCDA.

·     HB1866 HD1: Incorporates a significant number of changes to HCDA operations; clarifies legislative approval requirements; authorizes the HCDA budget; restructures the HCDA board to diversify its makeup; and provides additional developer provisions.

HB1867 HD1: Requires additional public notice by the HCDA and enacts existing building requirements as statute.

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