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 11:52  PM  

Note:  Prepared  remarks  for  Mayor  Kirk  Caldwell’s  State  of  the  City  Speech  

Good evening and Aloha!


Thank you for joining me this evening here

at the Neal Blaisdell Center, where so many
memories have been made over the past 50

The waters behind me are very special.

They flow from a natural spring, where
ancient Hawaiians once built fish ponds and
planted kalo.

In Hawaii, we know that “wai”, the water,

brings richness to the land, and sustains life
for the people. And tonight, we’re gathered
around these waters, to come together as a
community, and to talk about our city.

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Blaisdell Center

Nearly 54 years ago, on a night much like

this evening, this breezeway was buzzing
with excitement as Mayor Neal Blaisdell
dedicated the new Honolulu International

As you can see, this iconic structure is now

showing its age. The City recently
completed a Master Plan for a beautiful
renovation of the entire Center.

Our plan is to complete the schematic design

of this project in the coming year and
determine whether a public/private
partnership is feasible.

We will pause after the completion of the

schematic design phase of Blaisdell until
Rail funding is resolved.

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Completing the renovation of Blaisdell must

not be delayed indefinitely. It’s an
important for the future of Honolulu’s
culture, recreation, and economy.

Any great, forward thinking community

invests in great civil works projects.


I am still fighting full force for the

completion of the full 20 miles of our rail
project and 21 stations.

My commitment, energy and drive have not

changed since I first stepped into the
Mayor’s Office in January 2013.

Our rail project is so transformative to the

people of Oahu, those already here and yet
to be born, it remains worth fighting for
every step of the way.

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Act 1, passed in September of 2017, gives

HART most, but not all of the money it
needs to complete the first 20 miles.

What remains is the City’s so called “skin in

the game”. Approximately $214 million
between now and 2030, and $44 million in
next year’s capital improvement budget. It
may not seem like much, spread out over the
next 12 years.

But it makes a world of difference to the

FTA which is expecting the City to fill the
gap left by Act 1, even if the money may not
be currently needed by HART.

Councilmembers Ron Menor, Ikaika

Anderson, Joey Manahan, and Brandon
Elefante and I have all met with the FTA
over this issue.

4/3/2018  11:52  PM  

These meetings have been some of the most

frank, open and brutally honest discussions I
have had with the FTA over the six years I
have been Mayor.

The $44 million is part of this commitment

moving forward. And it’s placement in the
City’s Capital budget makes the most sense.

Failure to do so could jeopardize HART

receiving in a timely manner the remaining
$744 million allocated under the Full
Funding Grant Agreement with the FTA,
and the possibility that HART and
ultimately the City would have to return
some or all of the $806 million already
received by HART.

So let’s get back to the “certainty” provided

to the FTA before the recent council

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Finally I am asking the HART

administration and ultimately the HART
Board to hold the line on the following:

1. Further schedule slippage from a 2020

interim opening and final completion
date of 2025.

2. No further increase on cost beyond

the current estimate of $8.165 billion,
• Better managing some very
large and looming change
orders for the first 10 miles of
the project.

• Addressing anticipated
condemnation costs of lands in
the City center.

• Being on top of unknown

contingencies related to the
relocation of utilities in the City
center, most notably along the
narrow Dillingham corridor.

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3. Being on top of the triple P, Public

Private Partnership for the last 4.6
miles because ¾ of the project is
already completed or is being built,
and because Hitachi has a 10 year
contract to operate and maintain our

4. Addressing the Ala Moana station

terminus and how HART ends the
line so that the best possible options
remain open to get rail to UH Manoa
in the future.

Whether the bullets are flying or not, the

HART administration and ultimately the
Board has to take a more hands on approach
to these issues and all others.


A year ago, I gave almost my entire State of

the City speech on the need for more
Affordable Housing.

4/3/2018  11:52  PM  

I am proud to report that we exceeded the

target of 800 affordable units that we set per
year. We hit a total of 1037.

And tonight, I’m proud and excited to sign

Bill 58, our Affordable Housing Bill, into

(Sign bill)

What is truly revolutionary is how Bill 58,

our regulatory bill, and Bill 59 our
incentives bill, work together and the
amount of monetary incentives provided to
developers who build affordable housing at
a much lower area median income than

4/3/2018  11:52  PM  

Under our regulatory bill, developers will no

longer be able to build homes at the 140%
area median income, which for a family of
four is a home selling for conservatively,
between $750,000 and $850,000, which was
classified as affordable but we all know
really isn’t.

The new levels are 120%, 100% and 80%

area median income.

Combine this with our incentives bill, Bill

59, developers who build to these levels will
receive an average of between $35,000 to
$70,000 in monetary incentives per unit,
plus if it is an affordable rental unit, which is
what is most in demand, an additional
$69,000 in forgiven real property taxes over
30 years.

These are significant and never seen before


4/3/2018  11:52  PM  

And I believe this will result in more

affordable housing being built.

In addition, this Administration will be

introducing legislation in the very near
future to address the moratorium on monster
homes. These homes are not appropriate in
residential districts but they may be
appropriate in apartment districts and help
us address more affordable housing.

The legislation we will be introducing and

working with the Council on is comprised of
two components. The first component
changes our zoning code and the second
amends our building code.

Both are designed to incentivize more

affordable rental units in apartment zoned
areas now that they are prohibited in
residential districts.

4/3/2018  11:52  PM  

Amendments to the zoning code include an

increase to the floor area ratio (FAR) from a
current 0.9 FAR to a 4 FAR, almost four
times greater density than currently

This change in the zoning code will be

limited to smaller apartment zoned lots of
20,000 square feet or less, to incentivize
smaller projects that have ready access to
local financing.

In addition there will be reduced yard

setbacks and we would let the developer
determine the number of parking stalls.

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For the building code, we would not require

elevators, all units would be walk ups, and
the second stair access would be a fire
escape. These buildings would require fire
sprinklers, both in the common areas and all
apartment units, and the construction
material would be of types found in low rise
buildings built in Honolulu in the 1950’s
and 60’s as long as they meet the City’s life
safety requirements.

The City is also creating more Housing First

units. When you combine all the various
City efforts 2,291 people have been housed:

1. Since January 2015 until February 2018,

1,401 veterans have been moved into
permanent housing as a part of the
Mayor’s Challenge.

2. IHS Housing First increment 1: 170

(capacity 177; 96% occupancy)

3. USVets Housing First increment 2: 125

(capacity 125; 100% occupancy)

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4. Halona: 9 total (4 adults and 5 children)

5. Piikoi: 41 of 42 units occupied; 96

residents, including 34 children

6. Beretania: 22 of 24 units occupied; 83

residents, including 44 children

7. Hale Mauliola: 77 occupants (250 moved

into permanent housing)

8. Kauhale Kamaile: 43 persons total (14

adults and 29 children)

9. Kahauiki Village: 30 households and

114 persons (100% occupancy: 50
adults, 38 school age children, 26
preschool/infant children)

Coming Soon

• 806 Iwilei (propose to move River

of Life there with some housing)

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• 1936 Citron and McCully – 31

units planned for women with
children ; closing around 4/25/18

• 436 Ena Road – 33 studios for low

income affordable rentals. This is
the CDBG timeliness project that
must close by 4/30/18.

By building more transitional housing,

Housing First, and affordable housing, we
are addressing the root cause of
homelessness. This is how we reduce
homelessness for the long term.

This is the compassion part.


But we are also going to be stronger on

enforcement. First we will be proposing a
vagrancy law that will help our enforcement

4/3/2018  11:52  PM  

And will also put forth a bill to prohibit

public sidewalks and malls from being used
for anything other than for walking and
standing in a manner that does not obstruct
passage on the sidewalk or mall. Let’s take
back our sidewalks for the purpose they
were designed – safe passage for people to
walk on and not be accosted or forced to
walk into the street.

We will not step down from our

compassionate disruption efforts. We do
believe it makes a difference in the areas
where we enforce consistently, and we are
building up a third enforcement team as we

We also will be doing a better job of

enforcing the laws already on our books.

Vacation Rentals and Affordability

Illegal vacation rentals are not only ruining

the nature of our neighborhoods, but impact
the affordability of homes for local families.

4/3/2018  11:52  PM  

We recognize there is a need for such units

to keep our airline lift capacity and provide
product for all types of visitors.

But we need to level the playing field so that

all segments of our visitor industry play by
the same rules.

Here are some key elements of the bill I will

be introducing that I want to share with you

1. For all short term rentals, hosted or

unhosted, registration numbers are
required and must be placed on all
advertising materials.

2. Unhosted vacation rentals will only be

permitted in non-residential areas and
for bed and breakfasts they will be
allowed in all residential areas,
apartment districts, business districts
and mixed use districts, and all of

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3. There will be an increase in property

taxes from $3.50 to $6.45 for bed and
breakfasts and from $3.50 to $12.90
for unhosted vacation rentals.

4. There will be an increase in fines and

penalties: $25,000 per day 7 days
after the first notice of violation is
issued and climbing to as high as
$100,000 per day.

5. After repeated violations a lien will be

placed on owner’s property and added
to the real property taxes. In addition,
they will not be able to renew their
driver’s license until the fines are

It will next go to the City’s Planning

Commission and then to the Council.

I believe the Council is up to the task.

4/3/2018  11:52  PM  

Fire Sprinklers

Witnessing the Marco Polo fire was one of

the most horrific experiences I’ve
encountered as Mayor. The potential loss of
life and the impact to not only residents but
to our first responders are reasons why I am
so passionate about a fire sprinkler bill.

I fully understand and appreciate the

financial burden placed on high rise
apartment owners who may have to retrofit
our most dangerous buildings.

But we must also recognize that the cost of

human life cannot be measured.

Some say they are willing to take the risk,

but what about the risk to our firefighters,
our neighbors, and our community?

We just witnessed another high rise fire a

week or so ago, another life taken. How
many more people need to die?

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It is easy to pass incentive bills that help

people with the cost to retrofit their high rise
apartment units, but let’s have the courage to
also pass the tough stuff, like Bill 69 which
requires meeting the fire code and protecting
and saving lives.



• $5.2 billion federal Consent

Decree has completed 367 of 424
projects, which is will before the
last deadline of 2035.


• 1,870 lane miles repaved since

January of 2013, and we are
continuing to plough forward.


• Replaced eight buses built in 1997

with eight new 40-foot buses.

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• Improved three bus routes:

- Route 2 (Kalihi-Waikīkī): now
runs 24/7.
- Route 62 (Central O ahu):
renamed to Route 51, and
realigned to provide better
service to Waipi o Gentry
residents along Ūke e Street.
- Route 20 (Waikīkī-Pearlridge):
added service to help carry the
heavy loads through urban

Parks: (As of March 2018, 124

different parks have received

• New Play Apparatus (15)

• Refurbished Play Apparatus (58)
• Renovated Comfort Stations (67)
• Resurfaced Play Courts (202 at 45

4/3/2018  11:52  PM  


There never seems to be enough time to tell

you about all the projects we are working
on. The true State of the City is that we are
constantly working on the stuff that touches
the lives of people.

My cabinet know I can be a pain about

getting things done and making things
better. I call it moving the needle.
Thankfully after all these years they still
take my calls.

But I do so because I care.

I want to end tonight by offering some ideas

because I think the time has come to make
some radical changes.

Since Statehood, Honolulu has grown into

one of the largest metropolitan areas in the
country. What we do on this island is the
tide that floats all ships. And we have been
doing a lot.
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When it comes to what is best for our State,

it should not be State vs. County, or Island
vs. Island. We are stronger when we are
working together.

It is time for Hawaii to Convene another

Constitutional Convention, and one of the
top priorities of that convention should be to
update the respective roles of the state and
the counties.

We should discuss whether counties should

have the authority to create their own
revenue streams, independently manage
their revenues and determine their own fate.

Oahu has demonstrated for a long time now

that we are well managed and fiscally
responsible. We are one of the safest big
cities in the United States, and we are
building the largest capital improvement
projects in the State’s history – rail and the
sewer infrastructure.

4/3/2018  11:52  PM  

I look forward to having that discussion.

I continue to be excited to lead this city

every day, and I am tremendously proud of
the City’s team. You won’t find a group
more dedicated, talented, and hard working.

Together, we have accomplished a lot over

the past five years, and we are not slowing
down any time soon. Like all of you, we
love this city, and we are humbled and
honored to serve you. Mahalo!