Tommy Waters is City Council Member for District IV in the City and County of Honolulu. He was elected to office in 2019, and has served as Council Chair since 2020. He is a life-long resident and dedicated public servant, with over thirty years of public service — as a member of the Neighborhood Board, public defender, Hawaii State Representative, and as a volunteer with the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation and the Ka Wai Nui Marsh Task Force.
We must invest in a public safety system that is efficient, effective, and transparent. I will continue to fight for full funding and staffing of HPD and increase accountability and transparency within the department.
“HPD is chronically short of police officers,” said Waters. “So I’m hoping that we can work with HPD to get more funding to them and hopefully that’ll go towards patrol officers.” - story by Kristy Tamashiro on KHON 2 on Jan 13, 2022
Resolution 22-x sought to improve public trust and support in the Honolulu Police Department by empowering the Police Commission to hold police chiefs accountable for misconduct and mismanagement.
Resolution 22-x sought to improve communication, collaboration, and transparency between the Honolulu Police Department, the Police Commission and City Council, and the people of the City and County of Honolulu.
Resolution 22-x sought to improve public trust and enhance the overall success of the Honolulu Police Department by ensuring qualified police chiefs and maintaining transparent and innovative police policies.
Resolution 22-x sought to empower the people of the City and County of Honolulu with a police commission that reflects their unique diversity and values.
Resolution 21-173, urged the city administration to implement dementia training for first responders.
HOUSING AND HOMELESSNESS
O'ahu is experiencing a housing crisis. Housing and homelesssness are two critical issues face by residents. The marketplace is not building enough affordable housing to keep up with demand. Our current housing policies, programs, and investments are fragmented across multiple agencies and need continual updating to address escalating needs. There is no silver bullet for housing. Improving housing affordability require sound leadership, proven experience, in-depth knowledge of the systems and stakeholders, and continued commitment to making housing affordable for all O'ahu residents.
To solve the hosing crisis, we must work with City, State, non-profit, and community stakeholders to ensure that policy and programs are effective in:
Providing sufficient incentives for housing development;
Passing legislation policy that returns empty homes to our housing supply;
Granting property tax relief for working class families; and,
Funding housing first solutions to address homelessness.
Since taking office, I have introduced and supported several measures to include allocating funds to address complex affordable housing issues, including:
Added $100M to the 2022 CIP budget for affordable housing development.
Advocated utilization of $40M of American Rescue Plan Funds to be allocated for acquiring and developing housing on City- and State-owned properties under zero debt service.
Passed Bill 7 (2019), Bill 60(2019), Bill 1 (2021), and Bill 59 (2018), which incentivize developers to build affordable rental housing projects.
Introduced Resolutions 22-2 and 22-3 to ensure clear strategic plans to address Homelessness and Affordable Housing.
Introduced Bill 3 (2022) in the interest of transparency for City taxpayers to better understand how the City’s real property assessments and valuations are determined.
Supported Bill 49 (2021) to apply pressure to owners of vacant homes to rent or return empty homes to the housing inventory.
Taken steps to curb illegal vacation rentals via Bill 4 (2022) and Bill 41 (2021).
“Oahu has a long-term vacancy rate of 5.3%. Honolulu City Council Chair Tommy Waters hopes Bill 76 in the city council to tax those vacant properties can help increase stock that is being lost.
I continue to be concerned about the proliferation of monster homes in our residential communities. On Koko Head Avenue, Sierra Drive, 17th Avenue, 19th Avenue, and across District IV, we have seen a number of these apartment-like structures pop up in place of residential homes.
Working with partners like HI Good Neighbor and community members, I have introduced six separate measures to tackle this monstrosity of an issue and address monster homes while readily ensuring enforcement capabilities for DPP so that there are no more excuses why for not taking action:
Bill 61 (2019) places a triple fee on building construction started before receiving a permit.
Bill 42 (2020) requires that property owners building a detached dwelling sign an affidavit upon penalty of a misdemeanor in ensuring that the proposed construction complies with all restrictive covenants relating to the maximum number of dwelling units permitted on the zoning lot, and the minimum yard (setback) requirements for the lot as established by zoning ordinance.
Bill 90 (2020) expires applications for any monster homes whose permits are currently pending review by DPP.
Bill 17 (2021) Imposes strict restrictions whereby DPP must place an administrative lien on a property for any violation of the Housing Code.
Resolution 20-265 increases mandatory setbacks for monster home developments
Resolution 21-202 increases the requirement for mandatory number of off-street parking for monster home developments.
I am committed to continuing to advocate for the community and urge the Department of Planning and Permitting to crack down on these monster homes. As the oversight in terms of planning and zoning issues, I have introduced Resolution 22-X, urging DPP to develop recommendations to better regulate these homes and keep them from destroying our communities.
PRESERVING LANDS AND BEACHES
We owe no greater obligation that we owe to our keiki than to mālama ‘honua - care for everything in our island home. From our beaches to natural landscapes in the back of valleys throughout East Honolulu, we must protect the things that make our home unique for future generations of residents to enjoy.
Bill 88 (2020) revised the East Honolulu Sustainable Communities Plan. It ensured there was an emphasis on promoting the land’s long-term health,its people, and community resources for current and future generations.
Secured the installation of boulders for natural barriers at Wāwāmalu Beach.
Successfully ensured public access at Lane N in Portlock by removing a private gate.
Together, we will continue to work to preserve the things that make our island home unique.
As an island community, sustainability is critical to the survival of our communities. From when I was a kid to now, I have seen our beaches shrink, our streams dry up, and our forests wane. We have more significant weather events every year and see the effect of sea- level rise across our island home. Now, more than ever, we need to protect our precious resources, especially our water, and brainstorm new ways to increase our self-sufficiency.
We must continue to take the big and small actions. Every action matters from protecting our precious water supply from fuel contamination to ensuring that the Office of Climate Change, Sustainability and Resiliency has resources to support sustainable policy and administration.
Together, we have been able to make meaningful changes to support sustainable development and protect our precious resources, but our fight won’t stop here:Bill 25 (2019), now Ordinance 20-10, regulated the design and construction of residential and commercial buildings for the effective use of energy.
Resolution 19-283 (2019) authorized the Department of the Corporation Counsel to initiate legal action against fossil fuel companies to recover climate crisis-related costs.
Bill 2 (2020), now Ordinance 20-41, comprehensively updated off-street parking and loading requirements in Chapter 21 of the Revised Ordinances of Honolulu 1990.
Bill 65 (2020), now Ordinance 20-47, described the duties and responsibilities of the Office of Climate Change, Sustainability and Resiliency.
Bill 48 (2021), protection of Oʻahu’s wai through regulation of underground fuel tanks.
KEIKI AND KUPUNA
By taking care of our keiki and kūpuna, we can be a community that thrives. I have fought to ensure that these important stakeholders have their voices heard and recognized for all the value they bring.
As your Councilmember, we have worked to pass a Charter Amendment (Resolution 19-329), establishing a Youth Commission (Commission) with 15 youth representing the diversity of perspectives that makes our community great. The Commission has already passed resolutions ranging from civic engagement to critical agricultural lands, and I am listening closely to what they are advocating as they will ultimately be the future leaders of our island home.
I fought on behalf of Kalani High School more recently when their permit to play baseball at Kāhala Community Park was denied by the Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR). Kalani High School has used that field for over 50 years, and I was proud to fight for its continued usage with the introduction of Resolution 22-10 and Bill 5. I am pleased to report that DPR granted the permit in response to these measures and community advocacy.
I have also worked diligently to help ensure our kūpuna continue to feel recognized and empowered for all the value and manaʻo they bring. I have passed the following measures impacting kūpuna:
Resolution 21-15 - Supported Halewaiʻolu, which provided 155 affordable rentals downtown for kūpuna.
Resolution 21-173 - Urging the City Administration to implement appropriate de-escalation techniques that could improve the appropriateness of the response and ensure greater safety for the first responders and individuals with dementia.
Resolution 21-177 - Adopted the recommendations from the Kūpuna Food Security Coalition and urged the City Administration to implement those recommendations therein relating to the use of federal funds received by the City and County of Honolulu under the American Rescue Plan Act.