Council requests temporary halt of rail property takeovers past Middle Street

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The Honolulu City Council approved a resolution Wednesday that urges the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation to hold off on taking over more properties for rail until a recovery plan is finalized.

Councilmembers say the purpose of the resolution is to give existing businesses beyond Middle Street a chance to operate, and allow the city to continue collecting property taxes.

The council says since the plan right now is to end rail at Middle Street, acquiring property past that area would be premature and unwise.

“We were listening to the businesses in Waipahu, Pearl City, Aiea, because they suffered and they didn’t want the same thing to happen to those down the line that happened to them, and that’s why we hoped to proceed with caution,” said councilwoman Ann Koyabashi. “There are many vacant lots and they’re just sitting there, whereas the business could’ve been operating, at least taking in some income.

“Because of the uncertainties as to when city center will actually be in construction, we are taking your suggestion to heart in working with the business owners that we may need to relocate in the near future, to have them stay as long as possible so they have the least disruption possible,” she continued.

HART officials will be meeting with the Federal Transit Administration next week in San Francisco to discuss a recovery plan.

The feds are withholding more than half-a-billion dollars in rail payments until the plan meets their approval.

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