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No. 2019 -42


WHEREAS, gentrification, as defined by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention is the transformation of neighborhoods from low to high value and is also commonly defined as the development of a neighborhood accompanied by an influx of affluent populations, with a related increase in rents and property values essentially changing the neighborhood’s character and culture and often results in the displacement of lower-income residents; and

WHEREAS, gentrification is not only the physical remaking of a neighborhood but is also the process of renaming of spaces to make them more appealing for affluent newcomers and often results in the erasure of traditional place names and meanings of significance to the community; and

WHEREAS, this type of name gentrification is a common, backdoor re-branding marketing strategy used by real estate developers to accelerate investment in a neighborhood to raise rents that can inadvertently displace low-income residents; and

WHEREAS, name gentrification has been used by real estate entities in gentrifying underserved communities across the nation such as Oakland and East Los Angeles in California, Austin, Texas, and Harlem, New York; and

WHEREAS, this type of real estate name gentrification gimmicks are being used by real estate in Hawai‘i for profit benefit such as the condominium developers Ala Moana Azure LLC renaming the area between Waikīkī and Makiki as Midtown Ala Moana with rental units starting from $880,000 to $2.2M despite the demographics that this area has a higher percentage of residents over 65 years of age than does the general population of O‘ahu; and

WHEREAS, the traditional name of this area is known as Kālia where, according to Dr. Lilikalā Kame’eleihiwa, many fishponds and Hawaiian fisherman lived until 1900 when the swampland of Kālia was filled in with sand to create Ala Moana park where many visitors, beachgoers and surfers now frequent; and

WHEREAS, by renaming the traditional place known as Kālia, real estate developers disregard the significance Hawaiian place names provide Native Hawaiians today as a link to our own culture, history and understanding of the world through an ‘ōiwi perspective and serves as a cultural reference point in shaping and defining who we are as the native people of Hawai‘i; and

WHEREAS, unsolicited name gentrification by real estate developers does not require community input for a name change and undermines the very magnitude of ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i as an official language of the State of Hawai‘i; and

WHEREAS, unlike place names elsewhere in the United States, eighty-six percent of place names in Hawai‘i are in the Hawaiian language, according to Dr. Samuel H. Elbert and Mary Kawena Pukui, co-authors of Place Names of Hawai‘i and Hawaiian Dictionary, and thus renaming neighborhoods without a proper community process threatens to erase cultural and significant meanings to our relationship with our neighborhoods and environment; and

WHEREAS, these neighborhood place names play a critical role in evoking a strong sense of place and social, economic, and cultural characteristics of an area; and

WHEREAS, The Maui Council of the Association of Hawaiian Civic Clubs adopted this resolution at its annual Council convention held on Maui in July; forwarding the same to the Association of Hawaiian Civic Clubs to be considered as a resolution submitted by the Maui Council of Hawaiian Civic Clubs.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, by the Association of Hawaiian Civic Clubs at its 60th Annual Convention in Lahaina, Maui, in the malama of Welehu and the rising of Lāʻau Pau, this 16th day of November 2019, urging the City Council of the City and County of Honolulu to establish a process to protect against unsolicited name changes of traditionally or historically recognized place names, or name gentrification, by real estate developers to increase market profit; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that that the Council’s process include any proposed renaming or any traditionally recognized neighborhood or for the reconstitution of the boundaries of any such neighborhood require input from the community board or boards which represent such areas as established by the applicable City charter following the Hawai‘i Board of Geographical Names; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Council strongly consider a monetary fine, license suspension or license revocation to any real estate broker or agent that engages in these name gentrification tactics; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that a certified copy of this resolution be transmitted to the City Council of the City and County of Honolulu, City and County of Honolulu Department of Planning and Permitting, Hawai‘i Board on Geographical Names of the Office of Planning, and the CEO of the Council of Native Hawaiian Advancement, as well as the Governor of the State of Hawai‘i; the President of the Hawai‘i State Senate, Speaker of the House of Representatives of the State of Hawai‘i, Chair of the State Senate subject matter committee on Hawaiian Affairs, Chair of the State House subject matter committee on Hawaiian Affairs, Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, and all county mayors.

The undersigned hereby certifies that the foregoing Resolution was duly adopted in the malama of Welehu and the rising of Lāʻau Pau on the 16th day of November 2019, at the 60th Annual Convention of the Association of Hawaiian Civic Clubs in Lahaina, Maui.

Hailama V. K. K. Farden, President