From the March 2, 2001 print edition
Big, small developers team up to push a unified agenda
A burgeoning construction industry has prompted
two major trade groups to bond together in hopes of
pushing a more
The Hawaii Developers Council
and the Developers Association are combining to form
a 160-member group that will be
known as The Hawaii Developers Council. The combined
organization will hold its first meeting this month.
newer and more active of the two organizations, the
council was originally formed to address the concerns
developers, says Realtor Andres Albano, past president
of the council and a member of both organizations.
Developers Association was formed in the 1970s and
primarily has been made up of large, active developers
of that era,
such as Amfac, Kamehameha Schools, the Gentry Cos.
and Herbert Horita, says Albano. But with little development
taking place during the state's economic slump, the
organization became less active, he says.
As immediate past president of the council and also
a former president of the Developers Association, Albano
says one of his
goals was to bring the two organizations together.
hated to see the wisdom of the older and larger developers
not being shared with the newer ones," he
says. "It was a resource
that needed saving."
While both nonprofit groups
have met to discuss common issues, neither addressed
development issues as a group, even though
both have similar goals, says Albano.
"In the past,
the nature of real estate developers has been to fight
their own battles in terms of things like rules, regulations
and exemptions," he says.
But with development
increasing, the number of critical issues is on the
rise, says Christine Camp, current president of the
Camp says one of her goals for
the new group will be to not only work on education
and information, but to create a forum
where ideas and suggestions can be shared with those
connected to the industry.
The mix of new young developers
and older more experienced companies will be better
able to address common concerns, such as land use,
impact fees, permitting, planning and zoning, Camp
"We'll now have a consolidated voice," she
With more rules and regulations, many of them
enacted in the past few years, both Camp and Albano
say that the combined
group could be an effective voice on some of the issues
critical to development.
For example, Albano says impact fees can be levied
on a project, such as a golf course, even though the
rationale for imposing
the fees may have little direct connection to the development.
singles out so-called park dedication fees that must
be paid by all residential project developers. Initially
those fees were intended to acquire land for new parks,
but that's not always the case now, she says.
the fees makes sense in areas such as new neighborhoods
where there is room to add a park, but in high-density
urban areas where it's unlikely a park would ever be
built, she wonders how the money collected from developers
is being used.
Further, she says it does not make sense
for developers to pay higher park dedication fees on
single-family housing projects,
which already include backyards, vs. condominium projects
with no yards.
"Rather than having a schedule based on the number
of units, it should be based on the needs of the particular
Both Albano and Camp are also concerned about
lingering infrastructure problems, such as the aging
sewage system in
Waikiki, Moiliili and the McCully area.
They are areas
that need revitalizing, yet in spite of appropriate
zoning, little can be done, both say.
"Not much can be done because, in effect, we are
waiting for the infrastructure to catch up. It's like
the heart and soul is not
being worked on," says Albano.
Another issue of
concern to developers is what is referred to as a unilateral
agreement, where conditions are agreed to by a
developer in exchange for a zoning change. Those conditions
are contained in the agreement but it is only signed
by the developer, not the other party involved, the
City and County of Honolulu, says Albano.
a one-way agreement that shouldn't be a condition for
zoning, but rather a condition for development," he
says. "It should
be a development agreement signed by both parties when
the developer is ready to move forward."
major issue for all developers is the number of laws
and ordinances that have been passed in recent years,
some of which, they say, are detrimental to development
and a number open to costly legal challenges.
cites the recent case at Sandy Beach where a developer
had received appropriate zoning, only later -- and
after some investment -- to have the project downzoned
by the City Council.
"The project came to a halt and was subsequently
downzoned after an investment had already been made," he
Legal action and a recent court decision in favor
of the developer could have costly consequences for
the City and County.
Albano believes these kinds of
events harm not only developers who are already here,
but also send a strong message to
potential developers and others who may want to invest
"It is difficult to encourage good development
when a developer can spend money on a project only
to find out later that the
rules and regulations that he thought he was operating
under have now been changed," Albano says.
Lyn Danninger by e-mail to ldan email@example.com
or by phone at 955-8043.
Pacific Business News (Honolulu) - March 5, 2001
© 2001 American City Business