On December 18th, Councilmembers Kobayashi, Ozawa, and I convened our second community meeting on fire safety in buildings in the Council Committee Room at Honolulu Hale. Over 120 residents from 47 condominium buildings—most of which are affected by the mandatory sprinkler system mandates in Bill 69—attended the forum.
Honolulu Fire Department’s December 2017 revision of its list of unsprinklered condo properties now includes Queen Emma Gardens three towers and both of Kukui Plaza’s towers as being required to install sprinklers in individual units. With roughly 2400 units in these two complexes, Bill 69 could impact thousands of Downtown/Chinatown residents.
During the meeting, attendees raised numerous questions about proposed financing alternatives in Bill 107, and challenged the effectiveness of mandates for fire sprinkler retrofits in residential condos. The measure was introduced to give owners an opportunity to comment on:
- Fire Safety Improvements Loan Fund: A revolving fund for low- or fixed- income residents (80% AMI) who reside in a unit that must install fire safety improvements and who cannot afford them. Loans are capped at 90% of the appraised value of the residence after improvements.
- Fee Waivers: Unspecified fees for permitting, plan review, and inspections, and Board of Water Supply fees related to water meter adjustments meeting fire code-related improvements, would be waived.
- Real Property Tax Credits: Owners of affected properties could deduct 100% of costs of automatic sprinkler system as a credit against their property tax liability. The tax credit could be claimed for the tax year immediately following approval, and could be carried over and used in subsequent years.
Councilmembers Kobayashi, Ozawa, and I are submitting a report for the Resolution 17-341 Permitted Interaction Group (PIG) December 18th meeting. The report will also include responses to questions raised during the meeting.