by Andrew Walden
Nobody in Hawaii really believes in sea level rise.
Follow the money:
--The City and County of Honolulu is burning over $9B to build a rail transit system—with many stations located at or near sea level.
--With the blessing and encouragement of State and County authorities, developers have invested billions of dollars building condos in Kakaako—also at or near sea level.
--The Office of Hawaiian Affairs in 2012 accepted sea-level property at Kakaako Makai in lieu of $200M cash payment—and is still planning to develop it.
--Ala Moana Mall recently completed a $1B renovation project in spite of the fact that the mall is located at sea level.
--Small boat harbors have been redeveloped at Kewalo Basin and Keehi—and the Ala Wai Yacht harbor is next.
--On any given day, dozens of projects are under construction or renovation in Waikiki—at or near sea level.
Billions of votes have been counted and every single one says sea level rise is not real.
So when Civil Beat, January 10, 2020, published this whopper, we just had to investigate:
Many public and private construction projects in Honolulu are including features to mitigate flooding related to sea level rise: Elevated rail between Chinatown and Ala Moana Center has been redesigned to accommodate 6 feet of sea level rise, transit-oriented development at future rail stations incorporates flood-proofing for higher sea level, and a major hotel in Waikiki is raising its ground floor 8 feet to avoid flooding from the sea.
Hawai’i Free Press reached out to the article co-author Jaimey Hamilton Faris, because, as an Art History professor and Critical Theory proponent, she is obviously the brains of the operation. But tragically, she did not respond to our simple question: “Which hotel?”
This means we will not be able to sell the hotel on our proposal to make sea level rise into a tourism money spinner by installing glass floors.
With salt water arcing out all the electrical vaults in the hotel basement, ruining the kitchen, laundry, garbage removal, and loading docks and frying the elevator controls—glass floors could be the perfect solution.
Just visualize gawking tourists enjoying the illusion of a distant tropical thunderstorm lighting up the night sky—below their feet! Even without lighting, elevators, toilets, showers, or room service the electric light show could be enough to jack up room rates another $10 or $20 – plus imagine all the ono good poke the hotel staff can make from the fresh fish killed by the voltage.
Bill Brennan, spokesperson for HART, was more forthcoming.
Asked in 2018 about sea level rise, Brennan had told HNN:
We are building for today and that's the thing we should be doing, for today and for the near future. If we need to adjust down the line, there's going to be much more involved than just the rail station.
Two years later, Brennan tells Hawai’i Free Press:
HART’s studies of the impacts of Seal Level Rise (SLR) on the rail project pre-date more recent State and City reports.
As such, HART has redesigned the “finish floor elevations” at station entrances and other electrical equipment placement at those stations that may be impacted in the future by SLR.
This is the critical infrastructure that will be no lower than 6.0 feet above the Mean Higher-High Water mark or 7.08 feet above Mean Sea Level.
What I told HNN is that we are building for today, i.e., where the population lives and employment centers are located (by 2030, nearly 70 percent of Oahu's population and more than 80 percent of the island's jobs will be located along the 20-mile rail corridor), while designing for tomorrow, which, as mentioned above, is also occurring.
Brennan did not mention changes to other HART stations located at sea level such as Lagoon Drive and the Middle Street bus terminal.
He also did not explain why or how a rail station could be functional with the ocean rising to the bottom of the stairs—or how the 6 foot elevation will be ADA compliant.
Perhaps HART should require its P3 partner to solve the ‘last mile problem’ by installing mooring cleats for gondolas.
2017: Report: Hawaii’s Billion-Dollar Consensus Proves Nobody Really Believes in Sea Level Rise