Profiling members of the Honolulu Planning Commission

A recent follow-up post about the Sand Island Business Association prompted a request from a reader: “Can you do [a profile] on the Honolulu Planning Commission? We want to know how did this people get on this powerful board.”

I’m not sure I can fully deliver on this, but I can at least make a down payment.

To do this, I went through the public information statements filed by the members of the Planning Commission when they were nominated. These provide some information on employment history, education, and business ties, if any.

Disclaimer: I haven’t observed the planning commission at work, and this information is not meant as an evaluation of the work of the commission or any of its individual members.

Without further delay, here’s some basic background on the current members of the Honolulu Planning Commission.

Ka’iulani K. Sodaro, Chair

At the time of her appointment in 2011, Sodaro was a planner with Kamehameha Schools with a title dealing with “sustainability.” She previously served as development director for Maui Land and Pine, and a senior project coordinator for Hilton Hotels. She holds a BA in hotel administration and an MA in planning.

Cord Anderson

Operated his own development company (Anekona Real Estate & Development) until 2009. Served as “volunteer staff” for Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz during the 2011 legislative session, where he says he “held discussions with HCDA and private sector developers in order to encourage re-development in urban areas, especially Kakaako Mauka.

Anderson also reports being a shareholder in several companies, including Lanihau Properties, Palani Ranch, CBI Polymers, and Skai Ventures.

Gayle Pingree

Manager for a Makiki Branch of First Hawaiian Bank. A Democrat. Board member, Sacred Hearts Academy.

Rodney Kim

Executive Director, Sand Island Business Association. Also serves as executive director of the Pacific Electrical Contractors Association. Law degree from McGeorge School of Law, University of the Pacific. Major campaign contributor who says he is a political independent. Between 2009 and 2012, Kim contributed over $37,000 to state and local candidates, including $1,000 to Mufi Hannemann, $3,500 to Kirk Caldwell, $4,000 to John White’s unsuccessful 2010 run for the City Council, and $3,000 to White’s opponent, current Council chair Ernie Martin. The contribution to Martin was made just weeks after the general election. Kim also contributed $5,000 to Mufi Hannemann’s 2012 Congressional campaign. The campaign returned $2,500 following Hannemann’s loss in the primary.

James Pacopac

Pacopac’s background information form was not available via the city’s Docushare system, or at least I couldn’t locate it.

However, Pacopac previously served as “legislative liaison” for the Pacific Resource Partnership, the group related to the Carpenters Union that became notorious for its big money campaign against Ben Cayetano in last year’s Honolulu mayor’s race.

He is a partner with Scott Matsuura in the lobbying firm of SPJ Consulting LLC.

Pacopac was lobbyist for the Honolulu Board of Water Supply until March 2012. He currently is a registered lobbyist for the County of Kauai, the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative, and Syngenta Crop Protection of GMO fame.

Arthur Tolentino

Tolentino is business manager & financial secretary-treasurer for the Sheet Metal Workers Union I.A. Local 293. He worked himself up through the union over the past decade, beginning as an organizer in 2002. He reports no other community activities, and identifies himself as a Democrat.

Steven S.C. Lim

Attorney/Partner, Carlsmith Ball LLP.

From his biography on the law firm’s website:

“Real Property Development, Acquisition and Sale Represents developers and major land owners in all phases of project development. Work involves land use entitlements and registration of subdivisions and condominiums, and advising clients on licensing and permitting requirements at the federal, state and local levels. Represents individuals and development entities in the purchase and sale of real property. Performs due diligence on complex real estate purchases, including pre-closing review of title issues and zoning and permit compliance, as well as proposed use reviews.

Shopping Center and Commercial Leasing Represents both landlords and tenants in reviewing financing documentation, drafting master leases, assisting with entitlements, utility permits, conveyancing documentation, condominium and subdivision work. Assist clients with retail leases and general contract negotiations.

Resort, Master Planned Community and Golf Course Development Assists owners and developers with multi-phased resort and golf course development projects. Obtains state and county zoning entitlements, and advises clients on real property, construction and related areas of the law.”

Lim is also active politically, contributing $20,000 to state and local candidates between 2009 and the end of 2012.

Dean Hazama

Hazama is chair of the Mililani Mauka/Launani Valley Neighborhood Board, holds a BA from the University of Hawaii, and is business officer for the Defense Logistics Agency Maritime at Pearl Harbor.

4 responses to “Profiling members of the Honolulu Planning Commission

  1. Many thanks..For this information.

  2. Mahalo again, Ian, for your eye-opening research. Some of these guys with thousand$ to hand out… their connections… whose best interests do they serve?

  3. Are there any planning qualifications or background requirements to be on the Planning Commission?

    Seems like it would make more sense to have members who have actually spent time working on City & County Development Plans, Sustainable Community Plans, etc…

    I wonder how many of the current members have ever volunteered time in their respective communities working on their Development Plan or Sustainable Community Plan (citizen advisory groups, etc…)?

  4. Cord Anderson is the grandson of developer Andy Anderson and son of Brian that once owned the Ilikai and the W Hotel property before the crash and burn…

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