Honolulu Mayor plans Department of Ocean Safety and Department of Housing and Land Management

April 9, 2024

On March 14, 2024, Mayor Rick Blangiardi of Honolulu delivered his State of the City address at the Mission Memorial Auditorium, unveiling his plans to establish two new City and County of Honolulu departments aimed at enhancing services for the public.

The first initiative involves setting up a standalone Department of Ocean Safety to bolster Oʻahu’s lifeguard capabilities.

The second is the merging of two existing City entities into a new Department of Housing and Land Management, concentrating on the City’s housing priorities.

The decision to form a Department of Ocean Safety, operating independently from the Honolulu Emergency Services Department, came after the unanimous recommendation of the City’s Ocean Safety Task Force last week.

The task force, established following last year’s State of the City speech, explored the potential benefits of segregating Ocean Safety and Emergency Medical Services into distinct departments.

Mayor Blangiardi emphasized the necessity of an Ocean Safety department focused on overseeing the safety of beachgoers along Oʻahu’s 227 miles of shoreline.

Housing and land management reform

During the address, Mayor Blangiardi also discussed plans to amalgamate the City’s Office of Housing with the Department of Land Management’s real estate functions, forming the Department of Housing and Land Management.

This new department is tasked with setting housing policy, financing housing projects, and pushing for regulatory and process improvements to promote affordable housing development.

The mayor credited the City Council for their support and vision in housing policy, underscoring the importance of streamlined operations for enhanced efficiency.

Recruitment bonuses for police officers

Another significant announcement made by Mayor Blangiardi included the City’s intention to offer $25,000 in recruitment bonuses to new police officers.

This initiative aims to bolster the Honolulu Police Department by incentivizing recruitment and ensuring community safety through sustained police presence.

The mayor’s address also covered the development of an affordable housing community near the future Skyline station in Iwilei, improvements to the Department of Planning and Permitting, and the introduction of roving park crews for better maintenance of City parks.

FSJA Comment

Mayor Rick Blangiardi’s 2024 State of the City address highlights strategic initiatives focusing on public safety, affordable housing, and community services, reflecting a forward-thinking approach to municipal governance.

The establishment of the Department of Ocean Safety and the Department of Housing and Land Management are steps towards addressing critical issues facing the City and County of Honolulu.

These measures, alongside efforts to improve police recruitment and enhance city services, demonstrate a comprehensive strategy aimed at fostering a safer, more efficient, and inclusive city environment.

The emphasis on affordable housing and public safety, in particular, addresses key concerns of Oʻahu residents, potentially setting a precedent for urban management and policy innovation.

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