Mason Chock's Progress Report
My Council Work 2017-2018
Items Not Supported
Lessons This Past Term
Next Term Focus
My Council Work (2017-2018)
- I have taken on additional leadership roles on the Kaua‘i County Council as an Environmental, Energy, and Land Use Committee Member for the National Association of Counties (NACo). I have also been nominated and elected by council members from all four Hawai‘i counties to serve as the Hawai‘i State Association of Counties (HSAC) Western Interstate Region (WIR) Representative for the State of Hawai‘i.
- As a minority voice on the Council, I was able to work well with my colleagues and in the system to achieve results by introducing and passing the following measures. Note, there were many more decisions and stances that I have taken in my role as a Councilmember, but these are some of the highlights:
- Farm Worker Housing Amendment to support the success of local farmers. (April 2018)
- Island wide Additional Rental Units to encourage affordable housing development. (March 2018)
- La Kuokoa Resolution recognizing and legitimizing the Native Hawaiian Independence Day. (February 2017)
- Introduced and passed No-Parking Zones along a portion of Hoʻonani Rd, Koloa District as well as Kalihiwai Rd, Hanalei District.
- Vacation Rental (short-term transient vacation rentals) and Residential Investor (2nd homes valued at more than $2,000,000) tax class rate increases to generate real property tax revenue primarily directed to support affordable housing, land banking, and affordable housing projects or initiatives including the following:
- Directed $2.7 million to the Housing Development Fund for development of affordable housing.
- Directed an additional $22,085 to the Public Access, Open Space, Natural Resources Preservation Fund for a total of $834,342 for Fiscal Year 2018-2019.
- Directed $725,000 to fund the construction of an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)-complaint restroom at the Vidinha Stadium Soccer Fields.
- Directed $969,889 to our County Reserve Fund to fill the gap left by the appropriation for flood relief efforts. (May 2018)
- Assessment Cap for Home Exemption Property and Property Used for Long-Term Affordable Rental. (August 2017)
- Under my leadership as Planning Committee Chair, I oversaw and navigated the most recent General Plan Update through Council review, which included my introduction of the following:
- Protective language for the Public Trust Doctrine.
- Included language for Kuleana land protection.
- DHHL Wailua Housing Development.
- Cultural Practitioner Advisory Council.
- Address drainage issues by establishing regional drainage plans.
- Watershed support including in-stream flow meters. (March 2018)
Items Supported and Active in Establishing
- Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant improvements. (2015-2016)
- General Excise Tax (GET) surcharge to fix roads and bridges, and improve transportation alternatives. (December 2017)
- Grant funding for a Climate Action Plan, though ultimately the Council did not support movement towards this initiative
- Adolescent Treatment and Healing Center funding. (2017-2018)
- Funding for the Kaua‘i Philippine Cultural Center, a place for all. (May 2018)
- Home Exemption for residential homes that install fire suppression systems. (In Progress; May 2018)
- Revocable permits in County designated rights-of-way. (April 2018)
- Establishing Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA)-recommended Long-Term Financial Plan, Structurally Balanced Budget, Reserve Fund, and Reserve Fund Policy resolutions, including 5-year projections to include prioritized liabilities and mechanisms to ensure taxpayer funds are protected from unnecessary spending and dependent on focused core services. (March 2017)
- Short-Range Transit Plan for efficiency and improved Kaua‘i Bus services. (October 2017)
- Stewardship programs for Kukui Heiau, Kahua o Kaneiolouma, Malama Huleia, Hui o Makaainana o Makana, Kumano I Ke Ala. (2017)
- Resolution urging the Federal Government to conduct diplomatic talks with a goal of establishing a Peace Treaty with North Korea.
- Acquisition of Black Pot Beach Park expansion (2017; In Progress) as well as Public Pedestrian Beach Access in Poipu.
- Loan from Health Department to implement Best Management Practices to improve Refuse Stations.
- Repaving of Maluhia, Koloa, and Olohena Roads.
- Approval of six new on-call bus driver positions.
- Allowance of multiple family dwelling units in all residential zoning districts.
- Creation of New University District.
- Resolution in support of the UN Convention on elimination of all forms of discrimination against women.
- Capacity building. It has always been my focus to build Administrative and Council capacity in County government including work on the following:
- Have brought community voices and perspectives together in a collaboration rather than operating to destroy or silence them.
- Worked diligently at ensuring the County continues to improve its organizational health by working collaboratively with County agencies to build capacity. I worked with Department Heads/Deputies, supervisors, and staff to build team and leadership skills/.
- Inter-agency advocacy. I have worked collaboratively with our Mayor, State Legislative delegation, County Department Heads/Deputies, and Councilmembers to solve issues, develop opportunities, and focus on the needs of Kauaʻi’s people.
- Built relationships in and out of Council-business to encourage broadening of perspectives and promote opportunities for collaboration.
- Supported multiple affordable housing developments such as Koae, Kanikoo at Rice Camp, Lima Ola, and other transit-oriented developments on Kaua‘i. (2017-2018)
- Kilauea Community Agricultural Center. (2017-2018)
- Growth moratorium in General Plan. (2018)
- Kauai Humane Society Audit. (February 2017)
- Electric Vehicle charging station in Waimea. (May 2018)
- Waimea Theater Improvements.
Items Not Supported
- Raising salaries for appointed Department Heads, Deputies, or Councilmembers.
- Raising property taxes for the Homestead, Residential, Agriculture, or Commercial tax classes.
- Resolution to repeal Councilmember term limits.
- Provisional Ag designation in the General Plan Update.
Lessons This Past Term
While the following are principles I already whole heartedly adhere to, I am much clearer on defining the roadblocks in bureaucracy we are challenged by in government:
- Small incremental change is best. These types of changes are longer lasting without the whiplash to drastic change. Change nonetheless needs to occur with government support.
- Relationships are so important even when conflict amongst leaders is difficult. We must enlist mature leaders to stay connected to what people are expressing amidst confusion, frustration, and anger.
- Inclusive decision-making allows trust to thrive and provides safety for open and productive sharing.
- Listening and providing an avenue for community voices is so important to keep people engaged.
- We must be accountable and responsible for preserving the reserve limits necessary for organizational health.
- Increasing our recycling program is a must. I made a concerted effort to ban polystyrene this term, but I did not have support from the Administration and Council to move forward with meaningful legislation.
- Creating and holding a space in our Council process to allow productive and passionate conflict with aloha to fully explore opportunities and problem solve with all Councilmembers and the community.
- Accountability involves a clear pathway and process for all involved.
- Civic education and engagement is sorely needed to close the gap between community and government perspective.
- We need leaders who listen and are willing to make adjustments in order to find “win-win” solutions.
Next Term Focus
- Update CZO to better serve housing needs.
- Establish better community access to trails, shoreline and watershed.
- Preserve budget reserves.
- Complete, repair and maintain county roads, including Koloa Road, Maluhia Road., Mailihuna Road roundabout, Olohena Road, Kamalu Road, and all other roads identified in the roads maintenance backlog.
- Secure new landfill and Materials Recovery Facility.
- Support the County Transportation Agency and Kaua‘i Bus capacity building within the scope of the Short-Range Transit Plan, whether it be staffing needs or increasing routes, including holiday and increased weekend service.
- Continue to build capacity and continuity in our government by modeling leadership behaviors within the Council process and work with County agencies to build a strong foundation working together with a new Administration.
- Continue to improve community engagement by establishing a platform for more efficient organization and communication through information technology collaboration.
- Amend the Affordable Housing Ordinance
- Work with Office of Hawaiian Affairs to help kuleana land occupants validate property rights.
- Establish a Tax Incremental Financing Program.
- Capitalize on opportunities the 2018 floods have created to plan and rebuild safely and more sustainably. Within this interest I will place emphasis on the following:
- Address the health of our watersheds, rivers, streams, and irrigation ditches through a multi-agency permitting approach to access and maintenance.
- Limit rebuild and growth by vacation rentals in flood zones and shorelines, as well as large mansions on ridges.
- Limit access to the Wainiha and Haena area with an established shuttle service.
- Revisit and strengthen response plan for community/Emergency Operations Center (EOC) coordination.
- Revisit and revise our Tourism Master Plan.
- Revisit zoning and public access issues in the rebuilding in flood affected areas.