Council to discuss public testimony, housing

LIHUE — Public testimony and additional dwelling units will be discussed Wednesday during the Kauai County Council meeting.

Resolution No. 2016-56 seeks to amend the rules of how council and committee meetings are run by allotting 18 minutes at the beginning of the agenda for the public to speak.

Members of the public can speak on any agenda items for three minutes, at the discretion of the chair of the council, according to the resolution.

But, if residents choose to use their three minutes at the start of the meeting, they will not be given additional time to speak for the rest of the proceedings.

Another caveat of the resolution is that the speaker cannot address the council.

Matt Bernabe, a weekly attendee of the council meetings, said he’d like to see that part of the rule change.

“I’d like to be able to ask council members questions on record,” he said.

After the 18 minutes are up, the meeting will proceed as usual, and the rest of the public will be allowed to address the council.

Glenn Mickens, another regular attendee, supports the resolution.

“Sometimes people can’t stay for their agenda item to come up because they have to work,” he said. “So it’ll be good for people to know they have that 18-minute period in the beginning of the meeting.”

The resolution was introduced by Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura, who said she wanted to give residents equal chances to testify during meetings.

“It would help working folks who cannot take off for the whole day, unlike paid lobbyists and retired people,” she said.

Council meetings were run in that format from 2012 to 2014, but the council voted for a new public testimony format in 2014, Yukimura said.

The resolution amends Rule No. 11, which sets the guidelines for organizations of committees and the transactions of business during county meetings.

As per Rule No. 11, residents who want to testify must register with the clerk before the meeting; they can only speak when they are recognized by the chair; and they can only speak on the subject matter at hand.

Additionally, testimony is limited to three minutes per person on the first round of testifiers. Once all speakers finished, they are given another three minutes.

Councilman Ross Kagawa doesn’t support the measure.

“We don’t need to be changing rules, with an election, and a new council,” he said.

Also on Wednesday, the council is expected to discuss a bill that, if passed, would allow multiple dwelling units to be built in all residential areas.

According to Bill No. 2634, under the current Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance, it is prohibited to build multiple dwelling units in the residential zoning districts without a use permit. But dwelling units have a lower construction cost to density ratios, and multiple family dwelling units are a better use of county and state infrastructure, the bill said.

So, “to more efficiently provide for Kauai’s housing needs, the County of Kauai should facilitate the construction and development of multiple family dwelling units in all residential zoning districts,” the bill states.

Proposed Bill No. 2634 is set for first reading Wednesday.

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