Thursday, February 12, 2015

Developers Have an Option for Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) with Interim Permit

Under Revised Ordinances of Honolulu (ROH) § 21-9.100, “the use of neighborhood TOD plans shall be the preferred way to create TOD development regulations for each TOD zone.”  However, creating neighborhood TOD plans is a lengthy process.  While the City has made significant progress on these plans, only the Waipahu station area plan has been completed and is ready for a TOD zoning proposal for City Council consideration and approval.

Recognizing that some developers are ready to start planning and investing in TOD and the potential community benefits these investments can provide, the City and County of Honolulu created the Interim Planned Development-Transit (IPD-T) permit under Ordinance 14-10.  Established on June 20, 2014, the IPD-T permitting process allows “TOD projects prior to the adoption and implementation of the individual neighborhood TOD plans and TOD development regulations.” 
Under the Ordinance, “[q]ualifying proiects must demonstrably exhibit those kinds of attributes that are capable of promoting highly effective transit-enhanced neighborhoods, including diverse employment opportunities, an appropriate mix of housing types, support for multi-modal circulation, and well-designed publicly accessible and useable spaces.”

The good and the bad of the IPD-T permitting process is that it is very flexible.  It allows the Department of Planning and Permitting (DPP) and the City Council broad discretion over proposed projects.  However, with the right mix of public amenities and community benefits, projects can take advantage of such things as greater heights, greater density, and less parking requirements.

The IPD-T permitting process is modeled after the planned development permit process in the Waikiki Special District.  The process includes appearing before a neighbor board, filing an application with DPP, conducting a public hearing, submitting a DPP approved conceptual plan to the City Council for consideration and approval, and finally acquiring the IPD-T permit from DPP.

The IPD-T process may be a good fit for developers who desire early entry into the TOD market to avoid future increases in property value around the proposed rail stations. 

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Rejoining Private Practice

Aloha faithful readers.  I wanted to let you know that I have rejoined the private sector.  Mahalo.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Governor Ige Supports Rail Among Other Land Use Related Priorities in His First State of the State Address

Governor David Ige gave his first State of the State address to a joint session of the Hawaii State Legislature today.

Here's what he said about land use related priorities:

  • He supports, "low-cost government investment tools [that] can be used to create affordable homes for working families," like the interim loan of $5 million provided to enable the Kapolei Lofts, a public-private partnership with the State, the City and a private developer.
  • He supports the Honolulu Rail Transit Project.  In his words, "This governor wants rail to succeed and I’m committed to it."  He recognized that the State owns a large portion of the lands near proposed stations.  He said that, "Rail can be the driver to help us build future communities on Oahu—to sensibly direct growth, protect open space and agriculture, stimulate business, reinvigorate older neighborhoods, and build affordable homes."  As part of his actions to support Rail, he will fill a position in the Office of Planning to help assess and evaluate parcels for affordable homes.  This will likely build on the previous work Office of Planning engaged in that lead to the report entitled, "Leveraging State Agency Involvement in Transit-Oriented Development to Strengthen Hawaii’s Economy."
  • He supports increased agricultural production in Hawaii, through the preservation of agricultural lands.  In addition to land preservation, his strategy includes developing agricultural parks, combating invasive species, and reassessing "the areas that determine whether a local farmer can survive."
The Governor's complete speech is posted on his Web site.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Land Use Policy Priorities: Opening Day of the 28th Hawaii State Legislature, 2015

Yesterday kicked off the beginning of Hawaii’s 28th legislative session.  Barring a special session, it will end on May 7, 2015, Sine Die (the length of a regular NFLseason).

The legislature prides itself on the number of bills it introduces and passes each year.  Aside from the many substantive bills introduced by each legislator, many bills are marked “introduced by request,” which ostensibly means the legislator introducing the bill does not necessarily support the bill.  Other bills are labeled “short form,” which means that any substantive matter can be inserted in the bill at some point in the legislative process so long as it has some relationship to the bill’s title.  This can amount to thousands of proposed bills and resolutions.

Many of these bills drop out of the process, are merged with other bills, or are significantly amended or completely replaced.  Things begin to gel as we get closer to May and around crossover in mid-February.  However, if you are tracking a certain bill and want to be sure it is crafted in a way that makes sense to your business; you will want to be involved throughout the process.

Yesterday’s Opening Day remarks by the Senate President and House Speaker give some insight on the priorities for each chamber.  The following is a summary of their land use related priorities.

Senate President Donna Mercado Kim opened her remarks on a nostalgic note and played Peter, Paul and Mary’s song, “Where have all the flowers gone?”  She also referenced the popular “Hawaii Calls” radio program that ran from 1935 through 1975.  She noted the issue of sea-level rise impacts on Hawaii’s beaches and the decline of “Hawaiian entertainment in Waikiki,” Koa, Ohia-Lehua, fish, and opii.  To address these issues, she noted the following actions:
  • Providing “dedicated funding using existing TAT revenues for the maintenance and restoration of beaches across the state[.]”
  • “Giving the counties more local control over land use classifications by eliminating the Land Use Commission and overlapping operations to make the permitting process more efficient[.]”
  • The Senate expects “the Hawaii Public Housing Authority, the counties, and private sector to come up with viable solutions” to “the shortage of affordable housing[.]”
Over in the House, House Speaker Joseph Souki opened his remarks emphasizing the need for hard work and collaboration to address issues facing the people of Hawaii.  He noted Governor Ige’s call to work together and “bring as many people and ideas to the table as possible.”  The Speaker’s focus in the area of land use was as follows:
  • Transit Oriented Development  should be used to “direct growth along our rail stations, encouraging commercial development around them and building affordable neighborhoods on nearby state lands.  Directing growth in this way will also protect open space and agriculture, as well as minimize times when we are forced to choose between growth and the environment.”
Opening day remarks can be found in full at, including remarks by Senate Minority Floor Leader Sam Slom and House Majority Leader Scott Saiki.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Same Blog, Different Web Address

The Hawaii Land Use Law and Policy blog has a new Web address.

You can find us at

Our old Web address will redirect you automatically.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Slides for 2015 Hawaii Land Use Law Conference

I will reference the following slides for my panel at the 2015 Hawaii Land Use Law Conference.  

Our panel will also be discussing the recent Hawaii Supreme Court holding in DW Aina Le‘a Development, LLC v. Bridge Aina Le‘a, LLC and what it means for regulators and the regulated.

Guest speakers include Prof. Richard Epstein (Keynote Speaker), Laurence A. Tisch Professor of Law, New York University School of Law, and Prof. Patricia E. Salkin (Guest Ethics Speaker), Dean and Professor of Law at Touro Law Center in Central Islip, New York.

If you haven't already, signup at the Hawaii State Bar Association Web site.  

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Things I Learned Managing a Public Agency

Tomorrow marks the end of a significant chapter in my life, serving the public in the executive branch of Hawaii state government.  

In 2011, I was honored to be appointed by Governor Abercrombie and confirmed by the senate to serve as the Director of the State of Hawaii Office of Planning.  More recently, I served as the first deputy to the chair of the Department of Land and Natural Resources

With the hardworking civil servants of these agencies, community and business partnerships, and the support of elected officials, we accomplished many great things.  To name just a few, the State of Hawaii adopted a statewide climate change adaptation policy that is integrated into the statewide planning system; we moved state agencies forward on transit-oriented development as it relates to state properties along the planned 20-mile, 21-station Honolulu rail transit project; we developed a statewide food security strategy; we completed the 2014 Hawaii Ocean Resources Management Plan; we laid the groundwork for Hawaii's hosting of the 2016 IUCN World Conservation Congress; and we addressed all matter of issues related to the management and planning of the sustainable use of Hawaii's public trust resources.

During this time, I applied some key concepts from the great leaders and examples around me, which have worked well:
  • "Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike."  -John Muir
  • Integrate environment, economy, and culture in all decisions.
  • Your audience is current and future generations.
  • Trust the people you lead.
  • Listen and learn from the interested public--empathize.
  • Have the courage to remain logical and rational in the face of emotional decision-making.
  • Look up, walk around, talk to people.
  • People may disagree on how to accomplish something, but they all care about Hawaii, its people, and its natural resources--creative solutions are often found in the latter sentiment.
Finally, Hawaii is a wonderful place because of the people who choose a career in public service, members of the business community who choose to invest in building communities, and residents with a stake in Hawaii's future who contribute to finding solutions to meet our collective challenges.

Mahalo and Aloha!