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.
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 would be 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 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. In the meantime, a Proposed CD1 amendment to Bill 107 will be heard by the Executive Matters and Legal Affairs (EMLA) Committee on Tuesday, January 23, 2018 at 1:00 PM.
The Proposed CD1 amendment to Bill 107 includes the following changes:
- It allows ‘alternative fire prevention and fire safety systems’ in lieu of the automatic fire sprinkler systems required in the Bill 69, CD1 draft proposed by HFD/Residential Fire Safety Advisory Committee;
- It establishes an appeal process to HFD’s evaluation of each building with a life safety evaluation matrix.
- It also replaces Section 3 of the financing alternatives section of Bill 107 with the following paragraph: “The Revised Ordinances of Honolulu 1990 is amended to provide incentives and cost mitigation measures, as set forth in this Part and as may be further promulgated by the AHJ, to assist owners of highrise residential buildings and owner-occupants of highrise residential units to address the costs that may be associated with implementing fire safety improvements.”
These amendments reflect our goal of developing greater flexibility for condo owners and condo associations to address fire prevention and fire safety improvements.