Sen. Ige questions governor’s appointee to HCDA

David IgeHawaii Sen. David Ige, gubernatorial candidate and chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means, said he would oppose the permanent appointment of Brian Tamamototo to the Hawaii Community Development Authority (HCDA).

Ige said questions if Tamamoto qualifies to fill a seat designated for a representative from a small business, defined as “a business which is independently owned and which is not dominant in its field of operations” as stated in the law.

Tamamoto is executive vice-president of Royal Holdings, LLC, a small holding company of the Kobayashi Group, and has been serving on the HCDA on an interim basis after being approved by Gov. Neil Abercrombie.

The HCDA is charged with approving development in the Kakaako area, and among the Kobayashi Groupʻs projects there are the 40-story Royal Capitol Plaza — the first residential property ever approved by the HCDA — and the 248-unit luxury high-rise Hokua, fronting Ala Moana Blvd.

“This is not about an individual or company,” said Sen. Ige (D, Pearl Harbor-Pearl City-Aiea). “It is the principle as this position is designated for a small-business representative and I question if a holding company of the Kobayashi Group fits the definition. Citizens are concerned already about the make-up of the HCDA and the pace at which it is approving projects.

The Senateʻs confirmation vote is scheduled for Tuesday, April 29.

It comes as a bill passed by the state Legislature, HB 1866, which makes changes to the HCDA appointment process, sits on the governorʻs desk awaiting action. Sen. Ige said even if the bill is signed into law Thursday, Tamamoto would serve through March 2015, allowing the opportunity to vote on development matters impacting Kaka`ako. Ige has received calls from many residents of Kaka`ako concerned with issues that could be brought before the HCDA board for approval over the next few months leading up to March 2015.

“Whether it be the owner of an auto-repair shop or an entrepreneur who just opened a small restaurant, these small Kakaako business owners should have a voice in development of the area,” Sen. Ige said.

About the Law:

Section 206E-3(b) states: “Of the three members (county members) 2 members shall represent small businesses… and shall be designated as the small business representatives on the board whose purpose, among other things, is to vote on matters before the board that affect small businesses. The small business representatives shall be owners or active managers of a small business with its principal place of operation located within the physical boundaries of each designated district.”

From Ryan Tsuji, Hawaii State Senate.

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