November 8, 2022 - My top three priorities are crime, housing (homelessness/houselessness, affordable housing, large scale single-family dwellings ("monster houses")), and transportation (traffic safety (including pedestrian), road conditions). Especially since I have been serving as a staff member in the Honolulu City Council District VI office, these are issues I have observed constituents most frequently report (as well as from feedback I have received while walking the district). Thus, these are issues I work closely with City departments (as well as State agencies (and federal as needed)) to address and resolve.
I consider crime to be the biggest issue facing Oahu. From January 1, 2022 to April 30, 2022, there were 9,532 property crimes (9,788 in 2021, and 8,165 in 2020), and 838 violent crimes (701 in 2021, and 634 in 2020), according to the Honolulu Police Department (HPD). I believe feeling physically safe in the place we live significantly contributes to our quality of life. When I lived in New York City in the late 1990s, I recall more police presence positively contributed to this need. I believe more HPD presence will also improve quality of life on Oahu.
Addressing vacancies will help HPD increase police visibility, which includes patrol officer presence at locations known for criminal activity. HPD was No. 1 in the City Department of Human Resources’ May 2022 Budget Committee presentation of department counts for vacancies (951 of 3,271), and retirement-eligible (351 of 2,320). Perhaps HPD's Reserve Officer Program can be even more expanded. I support HPD with their determination of the most effective ways to address this issue, which include establishing yearly training academies, and a pilot program to increase staffing by 10% per shift. In a March 2022 City Council Budget Committee briefing, 329 uniformed vacant positions were reported.
Additionally, I would continue to support Weed and Seed programs, and do what I have been doing as a City Council District VI staff member, which is working closely with HPD and Prosecuting Attorney Alm’s office to address constituents’ criminal concerns.
Housing - homelessness/houselessness, affordable housing, large scale single-family dwellings ("monster houses")
Help get those who are homeless/houseless the support and resources they need to get re-integrated into society, including into permanent housing:
In the City's legislative branch as the City Council, I would support the Mayor and his Administration's action plan on affordable housing and homelessness, including ensuring funds are appropriated accordingly.
I also support and encourage the Mayor and his Administration to consider and implement other vetted idea proposals, including mine to address homelessness:
Implement successful models from other municipalities, including Houston, Texas.
I encourage keeping as many imperative stakeholders in such ongoing discussions and efforts, including individuals who are unhoused and/or experienced houselessness on Oahu, and the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii (ACLU).
In addition to supporting subject matter professionals (including from social service and health care organizations, and government emergency medical services), as well as continuing to support current programs, including those related to mental health, and mobile bed and hygiene facilities, I suggest providing services accordingly including ongoing counseling, and education and/or job readiness and skill development, and job assistance with secure storage/places to keep important paperwork and clothes so they may—with dignity—attend work and/or school, including in locations to prepare to do so.
Offer comparable at-risk youth programs, such as Weed and Seed and National Guard Youth Challenge, which provide counseling and other support for those who may have difficulties managing their anger, listening to those in authority, and following rules. This can include community resource centers (with office equipment).
Work with subject matter experts to address loopholes and hindrances preventing medical support and shelter/facility services they need to get off the streets.
And with respect to addressing affordable housing:
Prioritize and expand affordable housing by focusing on affordable rentals, homeownership, and workforce housing, including by encouraging the use of government owned-land in urban/developed areas accordingly (particularly the City, due to my jurisdiction) to support such development, and looking at different partnership opportunities, incentives and use.
Provide incentives rather than require mandates for developers to build more housing.
Address current and future housing-related issues for Honolulu’s young local residents by bringing to the discussions respective stakeholders such as Housing Hawaii’s Future, which is led by young local residents working to create opportunities for their peers and future young residents by providing workforce housing.
Since large scale single-family dwellings ("monster houses") continue to be pointed to as a significant source of driving local residents out of neighborhoods they and their families have lived in for several generations by increasing tax assessment valuations of its neighboring properties, I continue to read through the City Revised Ordinances of Honolulu, discuss with the departments and the Council's and City's attorneys, and learn from constituents, stakeholders and other subject matter experts to identify and effectively address loopholes in the City's existing laws, rules and protocols.
Such review and discussion of the City's existing laws, rules and protocols are also to identify and address any impediments to help ensure affordable housing can be most effectively planned and executed.
With respect to the Mayor's/his Administration's action plan on affordable housing and homelessness, I support the Council's most recent approval of his budget that includes over $50 million for building affordable housing and increasing homeownership opportunities for local families, and $23 million to provide homeless people with services for housing, in-patient healthcare and outreach support, and $2 million to house and support those encountering domestic violence. I support the Mayor's/his Administration's incentivizing the development of new affordable rental housing units for working families, as well as the appropriation and use of grant money to eligible developers and property owners as an incentive to build more affordable rental units.
I support the Mayor's and his Administration's affordable housing and homelessness priorities for this fiscal year to facilitate and incentivize development of affordable housing rentals beyond acquisition, and expand and sustain the City Department of Emergency Medical Service's (EMS) Crisis Outreach Response and Engagement (CORE) homeless services program. Since November 2021, a CORE office opened on Pauahi Street in District VI, and I have spoken with its neighboring residents who believe this location is helping address respective issues relating to those who are experiencing homelessness, and need such City EMS services.
Transportation - traffic safety (including pedestrian), road conditions
With respect to transportation, I would continue to work closely, especially with the City Department of Transportation Services (DTS) (and State of Hawaii Department of Transportation (HDOT)) and other relevant departments/agencies and subject matter experts to address constituents' traffic safety and road* condition concerns, which I work on a weekly to daily basis.
* These include sidewalks/unimproved sidewalks.
Please contact Traci at [email protected] or (808) 349-8830 with any questions.
Civil Beat Candidate Questions and Answers: Honolulu City Council District 6 - Traci Toguchi
1. What is the biggest issue facing Oahu, and what would you do about it?
I consider crime the biggest issue facing Oahu. There were 9,532 property crimes, and 838 violent crimes from Jan. 1, 2022, to April 30, 2022, according to the Honolulu Police Department. Addressing vacancies will help HPD increase police visibility, which includes patrol officer presence at locations known for criminal activity (more) . . .
2. The Honolulu rail project: What should be done?
I support every effort and action of transparency and accountability to ensure the safest, best quality, most cost-efficient (which includes completion timeliness), effective utility (including maximizing ridership), and effective means to provide transportation equity (particularly for residents who continue to spend hours away from their families and other quality time commuting to and from the urban core —especially for work and school), while providing an effective, efficient and sustainable transportation and mobility alternative for all types of riders for daily commutes (more) . . .
3. In recent years, serious problems have surfaced within the Honolulu Police Department. At the same time, there has been a significant push to beef up oversight of police and reform some practices. What would you do specifically to improve accountability of local law enforcement? Are you satisfied with the Honolulu Police Department? How about the Honolulu Police Commission?
The city’s revised Charter provides for HPD to consist of a chief of police, Police Commission and necessary staff. As a City Council member, I would appreciate ongoing dialogue with these in HPD’s organization so members of the public can also be included in such discussions (more) . . .
4. Honolulu has some of the lowest property taxes in the country. Is it time to raise those rates to help meet city obligations? Tax vacant homes at a higher rate?
I don’t believe it is time to raise property tax rates to help meet city obligations since the pandemic continues to present uncertainty with constantly changing conditions (more) . . .
5. Is Honolulu a safe place to live? What can be done to improve the quality of life on the island?
I believe it depends where in Honolulu, as well as when — not only with respect to what is occurring at that time (including business activity during weekdays, or weekend events), but also the time of the day. (Please refer to my answer to No. 1.) (more) . . .
6. Hawaii has seen a growing division when it comes to politics, development, health mandates and other issues. Protests are getting angrier. What would you do to bridge those gaps and bring people together in spite of their differences?
Regardless of politics and other differences, I seek to bridge gaps and bring people together in spite of their differences by being open to listen to where they are coming from. I seek to hear differing perspectives and look to find common ground and agreement especially with respect to the law, and focus on looking at the issues in a practical manner to effectively address and resolve them (more) . . .
7. Like the state, the City and County has had its share of corruption cases – from the police department and prosecutor’s office to the mayor’s office and the planning department. What would you do to restore public confidence in our public officials? What if anything needs to change about how the City Council operates?
As employees of the city, we are required to complete ethics training. Perhaps more frequent training that includes further explanations of the sources and laws relating to such cases would be beneficial. Educational outreach of such would also inform members of the public who help to hold public employees/officials accountable (more) . . .
8. Homelessness has been an issue for decades yet we don’t seem to be making much progress. What new ideas would you suggest to control this ongoing problem?
I suggest controlling homelessness by seeking to keep as many imperative stakeholders in such ongoing discussions and efforts, including individuals who are unhoused and/or experienced houselessness on Oahu, and the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii.
In addition to prioritizing and expanding affordable housing, and supporting subject matter professionals (including from social service and health care organizations, and government emergency medical services), as well as continuing to support current programs, including those related to mental health, and mobile bed and hygiene facilities, I suggest providing services accordingly (more) . . .
9. No one wants the island’s landfill in its backyard. Should it stay on the West Side and Waimanalo Gulch be expanded? Or are there other solutions?
While I continue to learn about this issue, I defer this to subject matter experts, which include the Landfill Advisory Committee and City Department of Environmental Services, as there are complex factors and considerations to this issue. I also defer to the respective area legislators who hear from and represent their area constituents (more) . . .
10. The coronavirus pandemic has exposed numerous flaws in Hawaii’s structure and systems, from outdated technology to economic disparity. If you could take this moment to reinvent Hawaii, to build on what we’ve learned and create a better state, a better way of doing things, what would you do? Please share One Big Idea you have for Oahu. Be innovative, but be specific.
I would reinvent Hawaii to build on what we have learned and create a better state, including a better way of doing things, by first starting and keeping at top of mind our most precious resource — our people — and what we envision for Hawaii. Second, leverage technology.
In 2009, I was honored to produce the first TEDxHonolulu (TED: Technology, Entertainment, Design, with the x denoting independently organized events). When asked, I proposed the theme “SHIFT: To move from one place, position, direction to another,” which thankfully, the founders agreed (more) . . .
League of Women Voters 2022 Candidate Responses:
Please provide a brief Candidate Statement describing your qualiﬁcations and why you are running for this ofﬁce.
I am running following much encouragement from District VI constituents whom I serve as Legislative Analyst to truly help them and this District because I know this District's issues ﬁrsthand, and actively work to especially resolve longstanding and complex issues, thus have institutional knowledge and current City experience to know how to effectively and efﬁciently navigate within the City, and with state and federal agencies, and community stakeholders. I believe my background as a paralegal helps me more effectively do so, under the counsel of the City Council's and City's attorneys. I also believe my experience in the public (city, state, federal), private (wide array of industries, structures and sizes), nonproﬁt, and small business sectors (including as an owner for 15 years), and professional entertainer and former “starving artist” in Honolulu, New York City and Los Angeles help me understand different perspectives because I have likely been in very similar shoes.
How would you address concerns about a lack of transparency at all levels of government?
Besides consciously keeping transparency at the top of my mind, I would also seek to ensure information is shared with the diverse people of the City and County of Honolulu (and beyond) accordingly so the people can make informed decisions, and hold government accountable for the conduct of its business. With respect to levels of government that are not in the jurisdiction of the City Council, I would inquire and/or request that information to be shared accordingly.
What, if any, actions would you work towards in your ﬁrst 100 days to address the threats facing Hawaii due to climate change?
As a member of the Honolulu City Council, I would rely on subject matter experts for real time and vetted information, including recommendations for action accordingly. These SMEs would include from the City and County of Honolulu Ofﬁce of Climate Change, Sustainability and Resiliency, and City Department of Environmental Services, as well as the State of Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources, and Climate Change Commission.
Do you believe the response to the COVID-19 crisis could have been improved, and if so, how?
All crisis responses can be improved when looking back in retrospect. Especially given this COVID-19 crisis was unprecedented, I believe all levels of government acted with best intentions to protect the health and safety of the public. Looking back in retrospect, considerations would include balancing the state of emergency with public health and safety with respect to government transparency, mandates, and the enforcement of laws/rules.
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