Community Action - Ikaika Anderson for Honolulu Council District 3

Community Action

In my nine years in City government (both as a staff member to the late Council Chair Barbara Marshall and now as a councilmember), our office has partnered with the community towards great progress. We’ve supported community projects in the district like re-roofing the Waimanalo and Kaneohe District Park gymnasium and securing funding for a footpath in Kailua and also advocated for island-wide causes like fighting the 10 percent residential property tax increase proposal, and amending the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART) budget to protect Honolulu’s taxpayers.

Together, we successfully passed Bill 5 (2011) which will provide all parks users with increased access to Kailua and Kalama Beach Parks on the weekends. We continue to work with the community on additional legislation to ensure that the needs of the many are not outweighed by the needs of a few.

We’ll see traffic calming initiatives implemented shortly in Kaneohe, but we’ve got to fight for sewage upgrades and parks improvements. We’ve helped to preserve agriculture in Waimanalo and maintaining our country horseback riding way of life, but we need to ensure that the Waimanalo Bay Beach Park master plan is implemented for our children. In short, we have accomplished many great things together, but much is still left to be done.

Watch Ikaika on the Issues

Ikaika discuss commercial activity at Windward Oahu beaches

Honolulu Civil Beat Council Survey

Honolulu Civil Beat

Preferred Candidate Name: Ikaika Anderson

Date of Birth (MM/DD/YYYY): 2/5/1978

Place of Birth/Hometown: Castle Medical Center in Kailua, Oahu

Current Profession/Employer: Vice Chair, Honolulu City Council
Vice President, Haliipua Flowers
Realtor Associate, PY Inc.

Education/Alma Mater(s): Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, University of Hawaii at Manoa
Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, University of Hawaii at Manoa
The Kamehameha Schools

1. Do you believe that Honolulu should proceed with the 20-mile elevated rail project from East Kapolei to Ala Moana Shopping Center? Why or why not?

Yes – provided that the City does receive the full $1.55B funding commitment from the Federal government. To date, project expenses have remained relatively in line with the projections presented in the financial plans. While there has been a lot of speculation over the years as to what will or will not happen, with regard to the Federal commitment, on the local funding side the project has seen increased revenue and expenses at or below the projections. Yes this project does have large expenses but the Council has continually worked to ensure that those expenses will be paid for exclusively by federal funds and the GET surcharge.
Finances aside, the construction of the rail project will help the City to stabilize its operating subsidies for mass transit. Over the past few years, as oil prices have risen, we’ve seen the direct impact on the cost to operate and maintain our bus system. These cost increases have not just been limited to fuel; costs for lubricants and tires also continue to rise. I think that this is an important consideration, especially when more and more people are, by choice or circumstance, leaving their vehicles to take public transportation.

Keep in mind that over the next several decades the bulk of all new development and growth on Oahu will be occurring in the Kapolei area. One simply needs to look at how the development and growth over the past several decades has impacted traffic conditions along the H-1/H-2 corridor to realize that we can’t rely on our existing infrastructure. While the rail routes themselves are not flexible, the system can be scaled up or down to match ridership demands which is not something that can be accomplished as easily with a bus system.

In conclusion, if the federal funding for the project does not come through as planned I will withdraw my support. But if that funding is available we’d be foolish to thumb our noses at it.

2. Should the city continue to send municipal solid waste to Waimanalo Gulch Landfill until it reaches capacity, should it site a new landfill elsewhere as soon as possible, or should it pursue a different path? Why?

Without question, the City should make full use of the landfill until it has reached its capacity. There are significant financial costs associated with constructing a new landfill and to burden our taxpayers with these costs for no practical reason would be reprehensible.

However, the City needs to continue to work to find additional methods of handling the disposal of our solid waste. This isn’t to suggest that the City has not been moving in the right direction. How we collect, process and dispose of our waste has changed significantly in the past decade or so. With the addition of the third boiler for H-Power, the expansion of the residential recycling programs and other community initiatives, we’ve substantially reduced the volume and composition of the waste going into the landfill.

At this point, however, it is unreasonable to believe that we can simply operate without a landfill. But that shouldn’t preclude the City from continuing to improve on its solid waste disposal program. I really want to focus on getting the City to open its doors to inventors and their pilot projects. When I’ve had constituents present some ideas or process that are in their emerging stages, the City has shown itself all too often, to be unwilling to try something that hasn’t already been adopted by other areas. If we want to be at the forefront of waste disposal technology, we need to be willing to try out new things – especially if we want to be the among the first island municipalities to operate without a landfill.

3. Has the sidewalk ban on stored property, in effect for six months, been a success? What should the city be doing to help Honolulu’s homeless population?

The law has been a success in that it’s allowed the City to keep our parks accessible to all residents rather than allowing for occupation and squatting by a select few at the expense of the many. I look forward to working with the City’s recently re-initiated Office of Housing towards solutions to assisting our homeless brothers and sisters. I remain hopeful that the City can partner with the non-profit and private sectors on a successful first housing initiative.

4. Should the city consider eliminating property tax exemptions for homeowners, nonprofits and other special interest groups if it means lowering rates? What other steps should the council take to improve Honolulu Hale’s financial picture?

Eliminating property tax exemptions for homeowners, in favor of a reduced tax rate was something that I proposed during my first year in office. After reviewing the data it was clear that nearly 80% of our homeowners would realize a significantly lower property tax bill. I would like the Council to revisit this discussion and have been giving thought to reintroducing my proposal later this year.
On the broader issue of Honolulu’s finances, when you consider the global financial picture, I think both the Council and the various administrations have done a reasonably good job over the past few years. Not only have we faced economic pressures from the global recession, we’ve also confronted them in our own backyard; such as when the State legislature stripped the Transient Accommodation Tax from the counties.

Nonetheless, we know that in the coming years we are going to be facing some significant expenses and we need to continue to plan for those expenses. Most notable are the upgrades to our wastewater systems that, due to various lawsuits, we are being forced to expedite. We are most certainly going to continue to see our overall operating expenses increase as the cost of fuel costs rise but we must seek out new technologies that improve efficiency and reduce cost. We must continue to focus on paring down unnecessary expenses and be cautious of incurring new ones. We can’t strengthen our finances by jockeying with numbers alone. There are so many opportunities for the City to whittle away at its operating expenses. For example: it’s frustrating to see community groups, interested in adopting a park and taking over maintenance responsibility being turned away instead of welcomed with open arms. If we can start to engage these willing individuals and groups it would certainly be a step in the right direction.

5. Relations between the mayor and the City Council have been at times contentious. How would you work to improve those relations?

I think it’s natural for some to try and portray the relationship between any legislative and executive branch as being “contentious.” Over the last three years I’ve had to work with three different administrations. While we have not always agreed on everything, we have always communicated with each other and been able to, if nothing else, understand our respective positions on an issue. I can’t dictate how my colleagues should or shouldn’t act but I would certainly encourage any elected official to always be willing to talk with their colleagues. It’s amazing what a little conversation can do to improve a relationship.

6. Should the city wait until July 2015 for the recently approved plastic checkout bag ban to take effect, implement something sooner or go a different route? Why?

The City Council passed the non-biodegradable plastic checkout bag ban with an effective date of July 2015, and I see no reason to change that date.

7. Do the Oahu General Plan and regional planning documents as currently written need to be overhauled to protect agricultural resources and manage growth or are they sufficient as is? What other steps should the city take to control or promote development?

These planning documents are required by law to be reviewed and modified at various intervals for good reason: planning documents are intended to guide development based on both what’s technically best for an area as well as what the community wants. As populations and communities change so do their wants and needs. Similarly, the management of certain resources depends on what the needs of the community are. I do believe that food sustainability is critical to our island’s sustainability, especially in the coming years, as we can’t predict what the future holds in terms of fuel costs and food availability.

I don’t think the City should be in the business of promoting development on private lands. I do, however, believe that we have a responsibility to our communities to ensure that proposed developments meet the needs of our people and our island in a responsible manner. But each proposed project has to be examined and considered on a case-by-case basis.
I think it is my responsibility, as an elected official, to ask the questions over and over for every project, and to ensure that the answers and project overall are what is right for our people and our island.

8. What do you see as the largest long-term challenge facing the city — sewers, water, roads, traffic or something else? What immediate steps will you take to put Honolulu in a stronger position to deal with its largest long-term challenge?

We need to maintain our existing infrastructure for transportation and wastewater. We also must continue to provide essential services such as police, fire, ambulance and trash pick-up to our residents while keeping residential property tax rates constant. Upon my election to the Council in 2009, I led the fight against a proposed 10 percent residential property tax hike- the rate at the time, $3.29, was proposed to rise to $3.59. I suggested a rate of $3.42, which was adopted by my colleagues on the Council. Considering that our residential property tax rate today is $3.50, it’s likely that we would be paying a rate close to $4.00 had I lost that 10% proposed hike three years ago. I am working with all my colleagues to keep residential property tax rates constant while advocating for additional monies for sewer improvements and needed road repairs.

9. What would you want to be remembered for as a member of the City Council?

I go to work everyday with the goal of doing my best to improve the lives of the people of the City and County of Honolulu - that is why I do this job. I’m proud of the 10% residential property tax hike I helped defeat three years ago, and returning Kailua Beach Park to our residents on weekends (Bill 5 of 2011, which was adopted by the Council and signed into law by Mayor Carlisle). I’m also pleased that my colleagues adopted my suggested revisions to the HART budget in 2011, giving the Council appropriation authority over HART’s future budgets, and requiring a Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) with the federal government before bonds can be floated for the rail transit project. Whenever my time on the Council is pau, I am hopeful people will agree that my staff and I worked hard to represent them, that we were effective in representing them, and that I was always accessible and accountable to them.

10. If you could change one city decision of the last two years, what would it be and why?

I would have rather seen a compromise on the fireworks ban that currently allows for only firecrackers. A few colleagues and I worked together on allowing for some novelties in addition to firecrackers (such as small spark fountains and limited sparklers) that we grew up with, but we failed to get the necessary votes to pass the measure. While I understand that our City has grown and become much denser than it was during my childhood thus necessitating some restrictions, it’s my opinion that the compromise mentioned above could have been successful if it were given the chance.