Monthly Archives: December 2013

Hau’ula Recycling Returns After City’s Retaliatory Shut-Down on Adjacent Private Owner

City shut down recycling business on Choon James’ Lot on October 21, 2013  by installing this sign in the middle of the entry way!  The lawsuit against eminent domain taking is not till March of 2014.

 

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On December 20, 2013, the city moved Reynolds Recycling back onto the adjacent city-owned Lot 64!DSC09937Unhappy Hauula residents have been calling the Mayor’s office at 768-4141 about his irrational Reynolds Recycling Shut-Down. One mentioned he had been calling the office just about every day!

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Regardless of  which lot Reynolds Recycling is situated, this is a temporary fix to appease irate residents. Reynolds is now operating on a short lease.

If Mayor Caldwell succeeds in hoisting his SUPER-EXPENSIVE $13 Million Hauula Fire Station Relocation project onto these last two remaining  commercial lots, the Recycling business will disappear for good.

There is no  other available commercial-zoned parcel to operate the recycling and related businesses in Hauula.

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At the heart of this controversy is Mayor Caldwell’s insistence on additionally seizing the adjacent Choon James’ Lot 65. The city is vigorously suing in the circuit court to gain possession  of her Lot through eminent domain by ‘necessity’.

In fact, the city recently hired an Oakland, California architect for a “comprehensive study”  to justify that an “Ewa Beach” style fire station is appropriate for RURAL Hauula! We sure would like to know how much taxpayers had to pay for that study from Oakland, California.

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The city already purchased  the middle Lot 64 in 2010. The 20, 297 square feet of land is sufficient to build a typical fire station in Oahu.

Curiously, Mayor Kirk Caldwell wants to build a SUPER-SIZED “Ewa Beach” style fire station in rural Hauula that requires Choon James’ Lot  and at triple the cost!

A typical Oahu fire station costs about $5 Million and sits on approximately 19,000 square feet of land.

Former Mayor Peter Carlisle was amicable to working with Hauula’s affected parties by exploring alternate sites for the Fire Station Relocation. However, when Kirk Caldwell became the Mayor in 2013, the culture of bullying was resurrected.  Caldwell was hell bent to push his irrational pet project forward.

Subsequently, on May 29, 2013, Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s Department of Maintenance Services from Halawa  conducted an illegal raid on Choon James’ free speech signs at her Lot 65, claiming the city had sole possession of the property.  Their court hearing on the eminent domain case is not till March of 2014.

Subsequently, Choon James additionally  filed a suit against the City and County of Honolulu’s illegal seizing of her free speech signs and violating her civil rights on August 13, 2013 .

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New eminent domain signs were created and erected.  However, on October 18, 2013, Mayor Kirk Caldwell dispatched six police cars, a dozen city workers from Halawa Maintenance Facilities, a front end loader, and a couple commercial trucks to raid the signs, again!

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To further retaliate, on October 21, 2013, the city installed threatening signs on Choon James’  Lot of which she is still the fee owner. The NO TRESPASS sign was installed in the front entry to the Reynolds Recycling business.

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The city’s abusive and retaliatory action shut down her business with Reynolds Recycling on her private Lot 65.

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On the other hand, the city did not install  similar ‘NO TRESPASS’ sign at the entry to their city-owned Lot 64.

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Nevertheless, residents are elated to have Reynolds Recycling return to Hauula.  The overwhelming will of the people in Hauula is to maintain the last two commercial-zoned lots for recycling and other small businesses. The fire station relocation project can always explore other sites.

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However, the public wants an explanation as to why the Mayor forcibly shut down the Reynolds Recycling on private owner through the most egregious abuse of power   . . . and then turned around . . .  to have Reynolds Recycling return to its adjacent city-owned Lot 64 for business!

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What monkey business is taking place at Honolulu City Hall? Why did the City and County of Honolulu steal business, through force and abusive power, from its private neighbor and force the same stolen business operation onto its city-owned property next door?

 

 

Aloha Aina March – Kamehameha Schools: Evict Monsanto

  Aloha Aina March Parade Lured 1,000t Crowd to Haleiwa, Oahu

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December 15, 2013 started with downpour of heavy rain along with “Alert Messages” from the Honolulu Department of Emergency of severe thunderstorm,  flash flood warnings and high surf in the north shore.

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But the weather conditions did not stop concerned residents from the Aloha Aina March and to urge Kamehameha Schools to stop leasing acreages in the north shore to Monsanto and other mult-national biotech firms for GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms) crop experimentations.

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Kamehameha Schools, formerly the Bishop Estate, is the largest private landowner in Hawaii.  Because of favorable all-year round weather, Hawaii has been the global center for open-field GMO testing that involves chemical sprays on a daily basis. Residents want the poisoning to stop.

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These vast experimental acreages in the vicinity of north shore schools and living environment have raised severe concerns towards “pesticides bombing” and severe ramifications of GMO on health and the environment.

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Preparation for the rally at the Haleiwa Beach Park began in the morning. There were talks by the police of canceling the March but when noon came around, the weather was perfect for the the Aloha Aina March.

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Over a thousand stalwarts showed up. Drums and shouts of “A’ole GMO!” resonated throughout the historical Haleiwa town.  

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These bio-tech experimental enterprises also affect other islands like Moloka’i and Kauai.   Islanders have formed powerful alliances and resistance to aloha the aina through the various county legislatures.
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The public sleeping giant has awakened and there is no going back. Corporations such as Monsanto, Dow, Syngenta, Dupont/Pioneer must exercise corporate conscience and accountability to its consumers. Hawaiians and supporters want to reclaim their rightful inheritance – the life-giving and life-naturing aina  – and the basic right to clean air, clean water, and clean soil.

Response to Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell regarding the Controversial Hau’ula Fire Station Relocation

REPRINT: Response to Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell regarding the Controversial Hau’ula Fire Station Relocation

A Response to Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s Letter to the Honolulu City Council  Relating to Provisions relating to the Deletion of the Hau’ula Fire Station Project.

http://www.civilbeat.com/articles/2013/06/21/19361-caldwell-brace-for-cuts-in-honolulu-city-services/

June 27, 2013

Aloha Mayor Kirk Caldwell,

Re: Your letter to the City Council Chair Ernest Y. Martin and Members of the City Council dated June 20, 2013 concerning Bill 12(2013) CD2, FD1, relating to the Executive Capital Budget; Provisions relating to the Deletion of the Hau’ula Fire Station Project. (Pages 4 & 5) 

Before we respond to your above-mentioned letter as distributed widely, including Civil Beat, we wish to share with you our family’s legacy with first responders.

My husband’s family has produced four generations of firefighters. His grandfather was buried in his fireman uniform.   We also have family members who are policemen, nurses, schoolteachers, and military servicemen. Many of our close friends are first responders, including lifeguards.  We are ever mindful of the services our first responders provide. We can never pay our first responders enough for the daily volatile and risky environment they’re thrust into.

Regarding your June 20, 2013 letter to the City Council, we also realize that any Mayor cannot possibly micro-manage or know every detail of city operations.  At face value, it’s understandable why you, as mayor, would object to the Deletion of the Hau’ula Fire Station Project this Budget session. We would probably react the same way if we were not intimately involved or had not carefully researched the facts and circumstances relating to this flawed Department of Design and Construction’s (DDC) relocation project.

Unfortunately, a person(s) with considerable influence continues to provide a overwhelming dose of one-sided bureaucratic jargon that does not provide a factual history of this controversial project. This bureaucratic process has become too politicized and evolves with ever-changing made-up premises along the way.

This modus operandi does not serve you as the Mayor, or the public, well.  No matter how thinly cheese is sliced, there are still two sides to it.

There are too much irregularities and evidences to put in this letter. The selected information we share with you here is based on documented facts and records.  We do not manipulate and fabricate new premises along this evolving process.

Mayor Caldwell, the GOOD NEWS is DDC can build another fire station in rural Hau’ula TODAY!

DDC supervised the purchase of Lot 64 TMK:1-5/4/18-24 of 20,297 square feet at 54-290 Kamehameha Highway, Hauula, 96717 on April 19, 2010, using Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds.

 

This City-owned Lot 64 with 20,297.00 square feet is adequate for a typical fire station in Oahu.

For example:
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The new 2424 Date Street McCully-Moiliili Station, with an estimated price of $4.6M, sits on 19,555 sq. ft. lot and was dedicated on April 1, 2010.

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The 640 California Ave Wahiawa Fire Station that serves a much denser population than rural Hau’ula sits on 20,000 sq. ft. lot.

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The Kaneohe Fire Station sits on 20,075 sq. ft. lot. http://oeqc.doh.hawaii.gov/Shared%20Documents/EA_and_EIS_Online_Library/Oahu/1990s/1990-09-08-OA-FEA-KANEOHE-FIRE-STATION-RECONSTRUCTION.pdf

 

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The Ka’a’awa Fire Station sits on 15, 493 sq. ft.

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The 1610 Makaloa Street Fire Station by the Pan Am building by Kapiolani Blvd sits on 18,953 sq. ft. lot.

This average lot size holds true on the mainland as well. Metropolitan West Seattle, Washington deems 15,000 sq. ft. to 20,000 sq. ft. parcels as customary for their fire stations.

Why then, is the DDC Land Chief fixated on seizing our adjacent Lot 65 for an additional 20,300 square feet? DDC’s 2009 Environmental Assessment for this proposed relocation project stated there would be no increase in service area or personnel.

Why then, a Taj Mahal fire station in rural Hau’ula on twice the average lot size and triple the costs of an average fire station? (The relocation project in Hau’ula’s projected cost is $13M, as recorded in the Ko’olauloa Neighborhood Board minutes.)

After you review this information and others contained in this PDF file, we’re confident you’ll agree that the Honolulu City Council exercised fiscal prudence and protected the public treasury by deleting the $750,000 that was requested for “Planning & Design” by DDC this budget session.  DDC’s request for $750,000 was premature as the civil trial for “public use” had not even been set.

Furthermore, aggrieved citizens have the right to appeal to higher courts in this legal process.

The City Corporation Counsel initiated condemnation action (1CC10-000863 -04. Also see Civil NO: 10-1-0956-05 PWB) on April 21, 2010 during the Mufi Hanneman Administration.

The Carlisle Administration informed residents it was willing to explore alternative sites for this relocation controversy.

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This case was set aside by the city until December 12, 2012 when Deputy Corporation Counsel Winston Wong requested a “Valuation Trial”.

This again was a premature action and denied by Judge Rhonda Nishimura as the initial Trial for “Public Use” had not even been discussed yet.  Despite these circumstances, DDC requested $750,000 for “planning and design” for this project (in limbo) this fiscal year 2013-2014.

What was DDC thinking?

Should the City Council give DDC $750,000 to squander on “planning and design” when the outcome is unsettled and involved in a typically protracted legal process?  The only logical and fiscally responsible action for the City Budget Chair was to delete this so-called “construction funding” for this project for 2012-2013 Fiscal Budget Year.

The 2011-2012 Fiscal Budget Year also deleted this project and noted as “not needed”.  For the City Council to decide otherwise would be gross malfeasance on their part, based on the legal status and other circumstances. As a Hau’ula kupuna said, “Money no grow on trees.”

At the most recent Budget sessions, both the newly appointed Fire Chief and the Department of Design and Construction (DDC) Director initially stated to Budget Chair Ann Kobayashi they were willing to dialogue. We welcome that.  We’re aware city departments such as the Honolulu Fire Department routinely depend on DDC to do the footwork in projects such as this. Unfortunately, this controversial process has morphed into an art of the wordsmith, with bureaucratic jargon substituting as merits.

The record points towards one unelected bureaucrat who abuses government powers of eminent domain at will. There is no denying bureaucrats have easy access to decision makers at City Hall while the public generally enjoy no such privileges.

Sensing this unbalance, we have diligently provided the City Council documented irregularities and nefarious circumstances surrounding this flawed process.  The most affected residents are grateful that the City Council has listened to the other side of the story during its budgeting decisions.

Many residents are unhappy about perceived wasteful spending, perceived or real; others questioned why the city could not renovate the existing structure or tear it down and build anew instead of seizing the last two remaining commercial-zoned parcels in Hau’ula.

Life-long Hau’ula residents are unhappy they were not consulted with. This project would be situated directly next to their homes.

DDC’s failures to consult affected parties grossly violated the basic requisites of Chapter 343, HRS and Title 11, Chapter 200 Administrative Rules, and the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) as Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) funds were used in this project.  Hauula qualifies, being a low-income area. DDC’s request for seizing properties was hastily pushed through to meet CDBG’s date lines.
Many would like the city to prioritize scarce funds and allocate precious resources to installing more fire hydrants for fire safety as well. Many neighborhood pockets here do not have fire hydrants. This is a major setback for our firemen and a major public safety concern.

A case in point happened with a domestic fire in Punalu’u on March 23, 2011. Thirty-five (35) fire-fighters, five (5) engines, two (2) ladder-trucks, a water tanker truck and a fire battalion chief responded very quickly but could not effectively protect the public due to lack of basic infrastructure – water hydrants.

Besides lacking in public engagement, there are too many irregularities and nefarious facts and circumstances surrounding this Hau’ula relocation file. We could tell you about DDC hiring their favorite appraiser all the way from Maui   for this project; that DDC’s first choice for the Hauula Relocation site was a 1.65 acre beachfront lot;  or DDC’s careless 2006 request for eminent domain by necessity on another property only to discard  the action promptly after the city council unanimously granted powers to seize private properties.

We could also tell about the recent illegal seizing of free speech signs on May 29, 2013 on our Lot 65.  The crew was sent all the way from Halawa Maintenance Yard to Hau’ula to seize two “Eminent Domain Abuse”  free speech signs on our Lot 65 under the guise of Bill 54 (11-029 ROH).

Who gave the work order for this illegal seizure and bullying?

What are the incurred costs to the taxpayers for this rogue behavior?

In summary, bureaucratic malfeasance in rural Hauula, Oahu, Hawaii reveals the culture in which government will ignore the law, manipulate the process, and abuse its powers in order to seize property just because it can.

Government cannot become so powerful and arrogant that ‘public purpose’ and ‘public safety’ are conveniently used as mere pre-textual ‘legal weapon’ to threaten and brow beat property owners into automatic submission through eminent domain and other tactics.

Fortunately, this out-of-control bureaucratic malfeasance and abuse can be corrected.   The entire City Council is protecting the public in its kuleana by implementing the democratic process of “checks and balances”.

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As Mayor, you can also support their pono leadership by not allowing DDC’s slop-dash bullying via the big stick of government powers to prevail.

As always, we look forward to collaborating with the most affected parties in a fair and equitable due process. Justice and Equality apply to all.

We can reach a win-win conclusion to this eminent domain abuse story

Mahalo,

Choon James

ChoonJamesHawaii@gmail.com