A State Constitutional Convention is the time for citizens to discuss big ideas that create a brighter future for Hawaii. The opportunity for citizens to make sure government is working for all, not just a favored few. The onlyway citizens can require government to address chronic, difficult issues it ignores, pays lip service to, or seems incapable of resolving on its own.
Education. Economy. Climate change. Cost of living.
Take housing as an example. Government says “affordable housing” is for a single person earning up to $114,380 or a family earning up to $163,240. Government officials give variances to build luxury condominiums in Kakaako and Kapiolani with only a fraction of “affordable” units, which revert to market price in a short time.
Will developments displacing lower- and median-income residents march down the Rail line? What happens to all the people living in those low-rise, actually affordable, units that get displaced? Are the “market-priced” new units mostly for outside investors? Why aren’t government decision-makers looking at how the overall change affects affordable housing?
Forty years ago, we worried government decisions favored the few at the expense of our environment. Delegates elected to the 1978 ConCon created requirements that government decision makers have to consider, as a way to ensure future decisions would truly value our natural resources.
They proposed three Constitutional amendments: Hawaii’s public natural resources are held in trust for the current and future Hawaii people; Our fresh water resources shall be protected, regulated and controlled for the benefit of Hawaii’s people; Access to our ocean resources shall remain open to Hawaii’s people. Each proposal included balancing tests that decision-makers have to follow.
Voters overwhelmingly approved all three.
Today, every government official must follow these criteria when making decisions that impact Hawaii’s public natural resources.
Imagine if citizens came together today to lay out criteria government must follow when making decisions about housing.
For example: Consider the net loss of actually affordable units; the actual median income of residents in the area; how to keep housing truly affordable over time.
Government has shown it will not have this discussion on its own. It will take a citizen-led ConCon to create the ideas to resolve chronic issues. You get to be the ultimate decision-makers – to have a ConCon, and to adopt any ideas that come out if it.
Vote for the ConCon this General Election. Let’s start the conversation!