Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Update: Owners subpoenaed city officials but Mufi Hannemann's city corporation attorneys quashed on basis that public officials are very busy; owners are a nuisance, harassing and inconveniencing these officials in their work.

Ironically, on their way home to Hauula, owners saw Bryan Mick - City Community Relations - sign-waving for "Mufi Hannemann for Governor" in front of Nimitz City Mill at 11:34 am August 11, 2010.

How arrogant and corrupt can this be?

Google: Hawaii Eminent Domain Abuse for you-tube of city council proceedings.

Court case is CIVIL: 10-1-0863-04 (RAN) PRO SE

Any help or suggestions is appreciated. This is little people vs Big Bad Wolf Honolulu City Hall. Contact FriendsOfHauula@gmail.com

Where the fiscal priorities?

Why spend this money in this economy with furloughs and job cuts and rising taxes?

Which contractor is waiting for this plumb contract?

Why such a fire palace for a little rural town of Hauula?

There are already 14 fire stations within an hour's radius but only 1 Police sub-station in Kahuku between Kaneohe and Wahiawa?

Where is the justification in spending $13 million when others are suffering from furloughs, pay cuts or cut services? Some firemen have said they prefer the assurances of a steady paycheck than a new fire station at this time.

Please contact FriendsOfHauula@gmail.com if you can help fight this injustice.

You-tube on eminent domain abuse at City Hall

Bureaucratic incompetence

Bureaucratic arrogance

Government rules

Government vs the people

Government vs the people

Bureaucratic arrogance

$13 million with city's fiscal crisis?

Saturday, February 6, 2010

A Story of Eminent Domain Abuse in Hawaii

Do you own property in Hawaii?


The Honolulu City Council can now condemn properties in 42 days with no due process or by necessity. The affected community leaders, neighbors, preschool owner, and property owners were denied due process in this Hauula fire station replacement site search and premature condemnation. The bureaucrats continue to plow due process under its almighty government force.

All this because the Honolulu city and county is in a rush to get their hands on federal stimulus funds from the CDBG - Community development block grant.

Condemnation Hearing started on January 13, 2010 at the City Council Budget Committee and should it be adopted by the full City Council of Honolulu on February 24,2010. This will be a 42-days quickie condemnation.

All this based on a defective Environmental Assessment and the recommendation of an un-elected City department Land Chief.

"I truly believe this Eminent Domain conversation needs to be raised to a much higher consciousness. So much has been discussed about the $51B Honolulu rail transit project but very little on how condemnation will proceed," says Mrs. Choon James, victim of this subject Eminent Domain proceeding.

So many property owners and businesses in Honolulu are from out of state. Do they know if and when they may be subjected to eminent domain, Hawaii style?

Eminent domain, unfortunately, has a place in governance. But enforcement of this power must proceed with much due process and as the very last resort. Abrogation of property rights is a very serious matter.

Honolulu City Council Resolution 10-003 to condemn by "necessity" cannot be so when the city did not investigate other very viable choices and DID NOT FOLLOW DUE PROCESS.

The City of Honolulu wants to condemn pre-selected Hauula, Oahu commercial lots 64 & 65. But it refuses to investigate contiguous lot 63, preferred by local residents.
Lots 63 & 64 are willing to sell at market value. No condemnation is needed. Even then, the city is condemning Lot 64 who has agreed to sell early on.

Lot 65 owners do not want to sell.

These small town property owners are victims of blatant governmental force and denied due process. This case sets a very dangerous precedent for the Honolulu Transit Rail Project's future condemnation. Proper procedure is being ignored. No presentation was made to the local boards. Local residents were not informed. The environmental assessment report was sneaked by during the Thanksgiving and Christmas Recess. Unreasonable and extraordinary pressure have been placed on the owners.

Condemnation schedule:

* December 31, 2009 City Division Chief wrote a letter (received 1/2/2010) informing owners he wants to condemn property.

* January 4, 2010 Corporate Counsel sends Request for Resolution to condemn

* January 4, 2010 Council Chair assigns Resolution 10-3 by request, to Budget Chair

* January 13, 2010 Budget Committee Hearing - Budget Committee Report further suggests they would 'like to see the condemnation process tightened as we move forward..."

* January 27, 2010 City Council Hearing (laid over), to be published and to be adopted at subsequent City Council Hearing (February 24, 2010) 42-days process!!

The affected community leaders, neighbors, preschool and property owners have issued opposition statements against proper procedures not followed. An attorney has submitted an opinion against Resolution 10-003 citing a defective Environmental Assessment. There are clear violations to the Federal Uniform Act and the Chapter 343, HRS.

Intimidation and retaliation from the city against the owners have also surfaced. A city employee also coerced The Honolulu Advertiser, Honolulu’s biggest newspaper, to make inaccurate corrections to mislead the public.

If this isn't an abuse of power and subversion of due process, what is?

Do you own property in Hawaii? Are you going to be Hawaii's next eminent domain victim?
Eminent Domain Honolulu Style: You Could Lose Your House in a Month
By Panos D. Prevedouros, PhD, 2/5/2010 7:45:03 AM

This case is about two owners (sisters) being directed to enter eminent domain proceedings thereby being forced to sell their property to the city so that a fire station is relocated on their property in Hauula.

"Eminent Domain must be the last resort in the acquisition of private properties. The owners of Parcel 2 (Lot 65) do not wish to sell. They should not be condemned to sell when the city enjoys other options. We do not believe this particular condemnation is by necessity when due process and other optional sites have not been thoroughly explored.

"Neighborhood Board #28 concurs with the Hauula Community Association (HCA) in its concerns regarding ongoing problems with timely communication between government agencies, consultants and our community.

"We invite the Department of Design and Construction to begin needed and meaningful dialogue with the Hauula community."

So summarizes the Chair of Neighborhood Board 28 to Mayor Hannemann and Council Chair Apo.

"The city has no good excuse to condemn the lot for a fire station relocation because it has other options. The owner does not want to sell. There are other big lots along Kam Hwy. Just do the homework. Using this lot by Kawaipuna St. will cause more traffic problems for Hauula. The mothers are always dropping their children at the preschool."

So wrote Marvin Iseke of Hauula to the Council and there were 87 signed petitions opposing Council Resolution 10-3 introduced by Council Chair Apo. Council Resolution 10-3 evokes eminent domain and forces two parcel owners to sell to the city.

Community reaction has been strong.

"The Hauula Community Association (HCA) at its regular meeting on January 5, 2010, discussed the proposed re-location of the Hauula fire station and the HCA has concerns with the process and any decision-making regarding the proposed site.

"The HCA is distressed that there seems to be ongoing problems with timely communication between government agencies, consultants and our community. The HCA does not believe the correct process is being followed.

"The HCA further is concerned that the timelines for sending letters of notice, scheduling hearings and receiving feedback is unreasonable and does not provide the opportunity for the property owner or the community to respond."

Here is the timeline as reported to me by one of the affected owners:

December 31, 2009 -- Department of Design and Construction - Letter informing owner of condemnation proceedings

* January 4, 2010 -- Corporate Counsel draft request to city council chair
* January 4, 2010 -- City council chair assigns Resolution 10-003 to Budget Committee
* January 13, 2010 -- Budget Committee hearing -- Owners have 3 minutes to present their case
* January 27, 2010 -- City Council hearing -- Owners have 1 minute to present their case.

If the Hauula community did not stand up to support their neighbor, a decision could have been made by Council on January 27 to approve the resolution, then a fellow citizen could have lost her home and land in less than 30 days! In this case, decision-making was set for the February 24, 2010 Council meeting.

Underlying bullying actions also make this case egregious. On January 21, 2010, the owner received a notice of violation from Department of Planning and Permitting regarding tall weeds in the lot. The fine was set at $50 per day. The violation was reportedly issued in June 26, 2009 but owner received no such notice until the receipt of certified mail. Owner asked if someone complained. The city inspector replied that this was a follow-up to a 1988 violation. (A violation dating over 20 years ago! The lot has had several owners since.)

The main conclusion from this eminent domain application in Hauula is that government power is scary and there are people in government that will use it. Given how the community has been railroaded with the rail proposal, I have grave concerns about due process in the eminent domain takings of several hundred properties for the proposed project.

Panos Prevedouros is a professor of civil engineering at the University of Hawaii and a candidate for mayor in 2010. He can be reached at mailto:panos.prevedouros@gmail.com