In 2022 we will elect a new Governor, new Lt. Governor and all the members of the State Senate and State House.
If there ever was a time to tackle the challenges of moving Hawaiʻi forward, this is it. Our success will depend on plans that include meaningful community participation in allocating resources and achieving measurable outcomes.
Case in point ... the Red Hill Water Crisis.
We followed the public conversation, we watched the Navyʻs Town Halls, Department of Health hearings, legislative hearings at ALL levels of government and the contested case hearings. There were dozens and dozens of documents available on-line.
And the outcome … in roughly 3 months, between the post-Thanksgiving weekend and early March, a critical review occurred and the Secretary of Defense announced the closure of Red Hill's fuel storage facility. That was the most comprehensive community mobilization I have ever seen!
And this is only the beginning. The hard part starts now. We must all remain diligent, we must shape timely, broad-based community problem-solving to insure that the next Governor and legislators at county, state and federal levels require the Navy to defuel Red Hill.
The harsh truth is that our neighborhoods are under assault, we don't feel safe. While many of us are horrified at the number of home invasions, car thefts and on-street assaults that have occurred in recent months, having more police officers walking the beat is just one action among many that are needed. The City has a new Police Chief, funds for “Weed and Seed” partnerships with the Prosecutor, as well as programs for chronic homeless, youth gangs and the rest.
At the neighborhood level, that's where we can be the “eyes and ears” for law enforcement. Community patrols or neighborhood security watches make a big difference in alerting neighbors to crime trends, identifying types of crimes to look out for and promoting ways to avoid being a victim. We are in this together to improve public safety!
Todayʻs level of homelessness resulted, in part, from major cuts in state and county mental health, health care, substance abuse services, anti-gang youth programs and community outreach centers. It is time to rebuild our healthcare, social services and housing infrastructure. And to do so in a way that capitalizes on “local solutions” because “one-size-fits all” does not work.
In Iwilei, an area close to rehabilitation services and public transportation, we invested resources into programs and facilities to address chronic Downtown-Chinatown homeless populations with mental health or addiction issues. In Waianae, several groups are developing a culturally appropriate kauhale village to meet the needs of the homeless clusters within a native Hawaiian community residing near Waianae boat harbor.
For urban Honolulu, we need to identify the best locations for facilities and service delivery to meet the needs of homeless individuals from this region in ways that are consistent with the needs of their residential neighbors and businesses.
Walkable Communities and Pedestrian Safety
In recent years, city and state transportation agencies have endorsed the "Vision Zero" concept of slowing down traffic to reduce the number of traffic deaths. Residents in our high-rise communities have asked for four-way stops at intersections experiencing speeding, safer pedestrian crossings and bicycling lanes to protect cyclists.
I've also encouraged city and state traffic representatives to work more closely with neighborhood residents to identify solutions that meet code requirements and address safety problems. One example of low-cost safety solutions are solar-powered rectangular rapid response flashing beacons (RRFB) near schools, churches and similar gathering spots. In recent years, we have funded pilot projects near schools to quickly prototype safety solutions and the Legislature initiated a pilot project for red-light cameras at accident-prone intersections.