No more delay: Honolulu Mayor vetoes bill offering fire safety evaluation extension
Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell vetoed a bill that would have extended the deadline for high rises to get a fire safety inspection.
Tuesday, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell vetoed a bill that would have extended the deadline for high rises to get a fire safety inspection.
"This is too long," he said. "Everyday is a day of risk for those who live in high rises without sprinklers."
Bill 72 passed its third reading with Honolulu City Councilors last week giving condo and high rise owners a total of five years to do a fire safety evaluation. Originally, building owners were given three years to complete the evaluation then an additional three years to comply.
This bill came after another bill was signed by Mayor Kirk Caldwell in May that required existing high rises to either get a sprinkler system or pass the evaluation.
The mayor said that's plenty of time to do the inspection and listed that as one of his reasons for vetoing the extension.
With an extension, the mayor and Honolulu Fire Chief Manuel Neves said residents and buildings are at risk of a disaster like the deadly fire at the Marco Polo building last year. And without safety measures, Chief Neves adds it puts first responders at risk.
"If we keep delaying the onset of these bills and these rules and regulations, then we only provide more risks to our firefighters and the folks that live in those buildings," said Chief Neves.
Mayor Caldwell pleaded with city councilmembers not to override his veto.
Council Chair Ernie Martin released this statement on the veto:
“From the very beginning, the Mayor has chosen to ignore or dismiss the realities of what condominium owners have to face with retrofitting their homes with a fire sprinkler system. If he did, he might understand the extreme financial hardship his mandatory retrofit bills would impose on these homeowners, many of whom are elderly and living on a fixed income.
“Councilmember (Carol) Fukunaga worked extremely hard with condominium residents, condominium associations, industry experts, and the Honolulu Fire Department (HFD) to draft a bill that provided more time and flexibility to owners to comply.
"Implementation questions have yet to be resolved by HFD, and the Council is still waiting for the HFD’s report on recommendations, which is due next month. Overall, it just seems like an unnecessary and hasty action on the part of the City Administration.”
A major concern brought up at last week was the COST of inspections and retrofitting, plus the PERMITS needed to make the changes
Councilmember Carol Fukunaga chimes in saying:
“I feel the City Council put forward a balanced solution, given that the condo owners, condo associations and the Honolulu Fire Department have not come to an agreement on the LSE (Life Safety Evaluation Matrix). I proposed the two-year extension to give all parties time to develop reasonable standards to be used to determine if buildings need to be retrofitted.
“I look forward to receiving HFD’s report on December 1, 2018. This report may result in a shorter extension if the condo associations, HFD and design professionals agree on revised matrix conditions shortly afterwards. Given that we are so close to December, I feel the veto override was not necessary as we continue to move towards a compromise.”