STRIPPED-DOWN BILL 2 PASSES Honolulu City Council
Faith Action for Community Equity
Bill 2 was initially designed to make Honolulu’s urban landscape more environmentally sustainable by changing parking requirements and setback requirements for buildings. However, it was substantially amended as it went through the approval process.
Faith Action’s Environmental Justice Task Force members submitted oral and written testimony on Bill 2 multiple times and also participated in weekly meetings with a coalition of environmental organizations. The task force also has an op ed published by the Star-Advertiser.
In addition, the task force met with housing developers to assure ourselves and others that the bill would not have a negative effect on affordable housing.
Despite our efforts, developers met on a weekly basis with the Office of Planning, which initially drafted the bill, without any participation by environmental organizations. Substantial amendments were made to the bill. While the final version of the bill makes some progress from an environmental standpoint, it is a far cry from the original vision, with large sections of parking and setback requirements being cut.
Especially toward the end of the process, Councilmembers seemed to be listening only to input from the housing industry. For example, they did not respond to the concerns of environmental organizations about changes to the bill that were being made without discussion. They also cancelled public hearings at the last moment without adequate justification. Environmental organizations felt, to a large extent, that their voices were being ignored.
A stripped-down version of the bill passed on Dec 11.
Saying “Yes” Brings Good Surprises
By Evie Hao, President 2018-2020
Hello, members of Faith Action,
We welcomed our new officers for 2021-22 and thanked outgoing officers, chairs, and unit representatives at our last Delegated Council for 2020 on Dec. 19, via Zoom.
I share my departing thoughts with you as I did with the delegation that night:
Saying “yes” has brought me some of the best surprises of my life.
- Saying “yes” to teaching in the public schools and saying “yes” to George, my husband of 52 years, have given me a life full of good challenges and cherished memories.
- Saying “yes” to be president of Faith Action gave me two years of exponential personal growth that surprises me because they came during my retirement years. Fighting for the REITs bill for the past two years brought me up several notches in persistence, patience, and sheer doggedness. Plus I’ve met and worked with many Faith Action members like you who fight the good fight that transforms people’s lives.
I consider the following accomplishments of the last two years to be key to Faith Action’s growing strength and positive influence in our community:
- Our Task Forces have attracted many new members with expertise and devotion to the issues of social justice. They are researching issues, visiting policymakers, and learning from each other. The synergy in the task forces are felt and seen in their meetings which are frequent and fruitful. They are preparing for robust and eventful legislation at state and city levels. Currently, Housing Now! and Environmental Justice are busy preparing for the 2021 Hawaii Legislature. Long Term Care and Living Wage are currently doing groundwork planning for their issues.
- The new Communications Committee was created to fill a need for a consistent and strong Faith Action-wide communications vehicle. As the first/ key step, Communications trained unit reps on their key role as connectors between Faith Action and their individual members. Since April, announcements, articles on legislative issues, reports from task forces, etc. have been sent to unit newsletters and/or e-blasts through their unit representatives. The Communications Committee seeks input from unit reps and continues to explore other effective ways to communicate.
- Ad hoc committees on Organizational Structure and Financial Planning were formed this year. The committees have started and will continue the work in the new year. Faith Action has undergone important changes in the last five years– and so have our member units. In order to continue proficiency and effectiveness as an organization, we will be working on responsibilities, processes, and structures that address needed change.
These past 10+ COVID months have been very challenging. Yet those challenges brought growth to our Faith Action organization. Zoom meetings have definitely been the catalyst for a freeing of ideas, energy, and (travel) time. This has afforded committees and task forces to meet every week–lately two times a week
Go to this link: https://www.faithactionhawaii.org/video-library to see a visual rendition of how we said “Yes” to reaching out to our members and to the larger community.
We invite everyone who wants to be involved in any of our task forces and committees to contact Ashleigh at firstname.lastname@example.org and she will put you in touch with the chair of the group. Also, when the legislature opens, we will be contacting everyone for a specific action on a bill. We hope you will say “Yes”.
Happy New Year. We look forward to 2021.