FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Councilmember Pine Proposes Eliminating Blaisdell Center Redevelopment Funds And Ala Moana Park Improvements to Address Homelessness and Long Neglected City Parks
Honolulu City Councilmember Kymberly Pine proposed eliminating money for more improvements to Ala Moana Beach Park, the redevelopment of Blaisdell Center and the Honolulu Civic Center in order to address issues related to homelessness, increase security, repair and replace facilities and equipment, and hire staff to clean and maintain six long neglected beach parks on Oahu’s West Side.
In the Capital Budget, Councilmember Pine proposed cutting $24M for Blaisdell Center Redevelopment, $4M for Ala Mona Regional park Improvements/Redevelopment and $500k for Civic Center Improvements and
· Added $5M for One`ula Beach Park Improvements and Construction
· Added $300K for Geiger Park playground equipment and construction
· Added $1M for Pu`u O Hulu Community Park Improvements and Construction
· Added $1M Kaupuni Neighborhood Park Improvements and Construction
· Added $500K for Pokai Beach Park Improvements and Construction
· Added $21M for Homeless Service Zones Project
Councilmember Pine submitted budget amendments to the operating budget that Cut $10,050,000 from the Ala Mona Beach Replenishment and Erosion projects and added $1M for funding to address homelessness issues and overall park accessibility and aesthetics at Mauna Lahi Lahi Beach Park.
She also cut 19 of the 24 new grounds keeping positions for Kaka`ako and added the 5 positions for District 1 parks, especially One`ula, Ewa Pu`uloa District Park and Mauna Lahi Lahi Beach Park.
“The City is constantly making improvements and hiring more staff to serve Kakaako and Ala Moana where multi-million dollar condos are being built for wealthy foreign investors and part-time residents from the Mainland. Why can’t we pay for dedicated park maintenance staff for recreational areas that serve mostly local residents on the West Side? We put money in the budget every year to address the health and safety hazards created by homeless encampments, illegal dumping, drug use and crime in the parks in our district but the priority is always in town. Our parks get left in disrepair with no staff to maintain them. That is not fair. Every park in every community deserves the attention and acre it needs to serve as a safe gathering place for local residents and visitors,” said Councilmember Pine.
Councilmember Pine is also diverting money away from the proposed $24 million redevelopment of Neil Blaisdell Center in order to spend $21 million for the construction of temporary homeless service zones in each of the nine council districts.
The temporary locations secured by the city would permit the homeless to gather in shelters and provide hygiene centers that include showers, laundry facilities and restrooms. Social service providers would have a designated area where they can consolidate and coordinate city and state services[PB1] .
“We see more makeshift homeless communities and people living on the sidewalks and in our public parks despite nine state emergency declarations, new county laws, and more money directed at the problem over the last three years. January’s point in time count indicates a 12 percent increase in our unsheltered homeless population,” said Councilmember Pine. “The City needs to coordinate with the state and use this money, about $2.3 million per Council District, to identify unused government parcels, vacant residential property, or vacant commercial facilities to create temporary homeless service zones. These are not the tent cities that we see creating health and safety hazards in public places around the island.”
A poll conducted in July 2015 by the Honolulu Star- Advertiser and Hawaii News Now showed that 62 percent of Oahu residents would support a temporary homeless shelter in their neighborhood.
“The providers working in these zones will prioritize families with children, kupuna and lastly the chronically homeless. The goal is to get people who want help, who want to get a job, off the street and into affordable housing or one of Oahu’s 53 homeless shelters,” said Pine.
A September 2017 audit criticized the city and state for not having a comprehensive plan with measurable performance benchmarks to combat homelessness.
“We have been talking about the same ideas and issues for decades. Let’s get to work helping those in need while respecting the law abiding, tax paying citizens who expect clean, safe communities,” said Pine.
Councilmember Kymberly Marcos Pine represents residents of District One (ʻEwa, ʻEwa Beach, Kapolei, Honokai Hale, Ko ʻOlina, Nanakuli, Maili, Waianae, Makaha, Keaau, Makua)
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