Tag Archives: Ko’olauloa Sustainable Communities

Ko’olauloa Neighborhood Board #28 (Part 2 of 3)



The theme, “The Responsible City”, was chosen by the City Charter Commission when it presented the revised City Charter to the voters in 1972. A major component of this concept is full citizen participation in government so that the powers of the City shall properly serve and advance the aspirations of its citizens.

However, the initiative for action must come from the people themselves. While neighborhoods and neighborhood boards were established under the Charter as a means to increase and assure effective citizens participation, their creation and implementation are optional.

The Neighborhood Plan, which designates boundaries and provides for neighborhood formation, leaves many decisions open to the community so that an individually designed approach, suited to each neighborhood can be implemented.

In 1984, Oahu’s voters approved a City Charter a City Charter amendment expanding the role of the neighborhood boards to include all levels of government. Every resident has the opportunity to participate in government decision making which affects his or her community. You can play a significant part in making government more responsive to community needs. The decision is up to you.” https://www1.honolulu.gov/nco/office.htm

The Ko’olauloa Neighborhood Board #28  was one of the first to be formed in the 1970s under the leadership of Honolulu Mayor Frank Fasi.

In 2013, the members of the Koolauloa Board #28 were voted into office with a overall vote of 8.61%  in the last election.

DSC08368May 8, 2014 meeting at the Hauula Elementary School

Unfortunately, Ko’olauloa Neighborhood Board #28 has recently been plagued with citizens’ complaints of violations due to lack of transparency and conflicts of interest.

On  December 7, 2010, the Hawaii Independent reported the City and County of Honolulu Neighborhood Commission issued  a FINDINGS OF FACT, CONCLUSIONS OF LAW, AND DECISION AND ORDER  on the Ko’olauloa Neighborhood Board #28:

” .  . .  the commission ruled that the Koolau Loa Neighborhood Board, on the day it voted to support Envision Laie, unintentionally violated Hawaii Sushine Laws by not allowing everyone the chance to testify at the special meeting. Junior Primacio and Richard Fale were the board chairs in charge that day in 2009.

Other infractions, which the commission labeled as “serious and deleterious to the neighborhood board system,” included the use of sign-up sheets that were removed either before or during the meeting and the non-consideration of written testimony before the board took its 7-to-4 in favor vote.

In addition to receiving a letter of reprimand, the Koolau Loa Neighborhood Board, if it wishes to take a stand on the project, must schedule another meeting and allow all written and oral testimony to be received, reviewed, and considered before taking a vote.”

On November 14,  2013, a similar presentation relating to the same issue was presented by the long-time Laie Community Association President Pane Meatoga ( who is also  the District Representative with the Operating Engineers Local Union 3):

 VII.       NEW BUSINESS 10 Minute Limit per Speaker

A.    Presentation by La`ie Community Association (LCA) Seeking Board Support for Envision La`ie and Ko`olauloa Sustainable Communities Plan – Pane Meatoga, Jr., LCA President


The LCA presentation continued on to December 9, 2013 whereby the Ko’olauloa Neighborhood Board #28 took a vote to support the above agenda. The outcome was predicted as reported.

Subsequently,   three complaints against the Ko’olauloa Neighborhood Board #28 were filed at the Honolulu Neighborhood Commission. Hearings for  Marvin Iseke, Andrea Nixt and Lea Minton vs the Ko’olauloa Neighborhood Board #28 were set for May 28, 2014 at the Honolulu Hale Committee Room at 6:00 pm.

DSC08631NB #28 Chair Verla Moore in blue with 80-year-old Hauula kupuna Marvin Iseke in striped shirt.

Ko’olaulau residents contend that former Mayor Mufi Hannemann and his Managing Director Kirk Caldwell,  provided preferential treatment to Hawaii Reserves Inc. in Laie by unilaterally inserting the “Envision Laie” development plan into the Ko’olauloa Sustainable Communities Plan in 2010. (However, it should be noted that many in Laie oppose the Envision Laie but prefer not to publicly voice their opinions, for whatever reasons.)

Residents also allege that current  Chair Verla Moore, also a member of the Laie Community Association Board,  plays favoritism as to who can have a presentation at board meetings.

Residents contend that  generally no prior efforts were expended to evaluate these matters in a careful and non-discriminating way. No information gathering or research was expended. They perceive an entrenched bloc vote that  ignores all the other communities in Ko’olauloa.

Alleged violations presented at the May 28, 2014 hearing included the following:

 §2-13-104 Standards of conduct. (a) Board members, in the performance of their duties, shall demonstrate by their example the highest standards of ethical conduct, to the end that the public may justifiably have trust and confidence in the integrity of the neighborhood board system. Board members shall hold their offices or positions for the benefit of the public, shall recognize that the public’s interest is their primary concern, and shall faithfully discharge the duties of their offices regardless of personal considerations.

(b) Board members shall not use their positions to secure or grant special consideration, treatment, advantage, privilege, or exemption to themselves or any person beyond that which is available to every other person.
(c) Board members are not officers or employees of the city by reason of their position. However, the standards of conduct policy shall apply to all board members. [Eff 10/20/08] (Auth: RCH §14-103(a)) (Imp: RCH §14-104)

§2-13-107 Representative capacity of board members. (a) Each member of a board shall represent the entire district and act responsibly to fulfill the board’s democratic and advisory duty.


Yet, on December 9, 2013 Verla Moore KNB #28 Chair and her bloc adopted a Resolution to support her own Laie Association’s request to support Envision Laie and the Ko’olauloa Sustainable Communities Plan against all opposition in the region.

The Neighborhood Board members who voted to support the Laie Community Association’s request had not read the Environmental Studies as well as the voluminous facts and circumstances surround this controversial issue. You can see this on the video tape. They just accepted Pane Meatoga’s words as facts. Residents are given very limited opportunities to talk and not allowed to ask questions.

The Neighborhood Commission Hearings lasted about four hours.  Anita Hofschneider from Civil Beat reported parts of it:

DSC08596Complainant Andrea Nixt from Ka’a’awa with Laie Community President Pane Meatoga in the background.

The conflict played out again Wednesday evening when Andrea Anixt from Kaaawa, Lea Minton from Punaluu and Marvin Iseki from Hauula contested the board’s December endorsement of the latest version of the Koolau Loa Sustainable Communities Plan in a four-hour-long hearing before the Neighborhood Commission at Honolulu Hale.

Anixt, Minton and Iseke said the board members who voted for the project failed to represent the interests of the Koolau Loa community as a whole. They also said several members had conflicts of interests because they or their family members are employed by BYU-Hawaii and HRI.

The board’s chairwoman, Verla Moore, vehemently denied the allegations, saying that the board painstakingly ensured that all the rules were followed.

She emphasized that the homes would be for the “poor and unknown,” instead of for rich people like GoPro CEO Nicholas Woodman, who made headlines that day for purchasing a $9.2 million property on the North Shore.

She suggested that the three residents who criticized the board appeared to be haole while many on the board were Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander.

“You look at my board members, you look at their faces. I go back 150 years here,” Moore said to the commission. “You look at our opposition. When did they come here? 10 years ago?”

“We let you in, let us guys stay,” she added.

Minton, who testified next on behalf of the Defend Oahu Coalition, said she was born and raised in Hawaii and went to Kahuku High School.

“We’re not here to discuss white people versus Hawaiians,” Minton said. “When you sit in a position of power and you’re elected to that neighborhood board, you’re there to represent everybody.”


Lea Minton disclosed that she received threatening phone calls, including to her employer to fire her for testifying at the  October 8, 2013 City Council hearing at Kahuku High School. She also received a death threat.

Unfortunately, Minton further pointed out being harassed by a member of the Ko’olauloa Neighborhood Board #28 on the way to the Hearing that night .  That particular board member apologized later at the hearing, explaining he had had a hard day.

The Neighborhood Board Commission is slated to render their decision within 45 days.

If Mayor Frank Fasi were alive today, he would probably continue to be proud of his accomplishment in providing a public forum for the grassroots. Fasi would understand that democracy could get messy but he would probably have a few choice words about uncalled-for bullying behavior. All in all, he would be happy to see citizens participate and pursue clarifications and redress when and where needed.




Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell on a Rampage

Woman Criticizes Honolulu’s Government, Has Her Protest Signs Bulldozed

Nick SibillaNick Sibilla, Contributor   

How people respond to criticism can reveal a lot about their character.  Some might try to debate or reason with those they disagree with.  Others prefer to ignore critics.  City officials in Honolulu take a different approach: They use a bulldozer.

Choon James is a successful real estate broker with over two decades of experience in Hawaii.  But the city of Honolulu is seeking to seize property she’s owned for almost a decade to build what she calls a “super-sized” fire station in rural Hauula.

Since January 2010, she has put up signs to protest Honolulu’s use of eminent domain.  These signs declare “Eminent Domain Abuse: Who’s Next?” and “YouTube Eminent Domain Abuse—Hawaii.”  For more than three years these signs have been up without any incident.


But now the city is showing a callous disregard for Choon’s freedom of speech.  Back in May, Honolulu seized two of her eminent domain protest signs.  Without her consent, city employees went onto the property and seized and impounded her signs before damaging them. Even worse, the city slapped her with a notice for trespassing, for property she is trying to defend in court.

After these signs were torn down, Choon placed three more signs there.  These lasted just a few months before the city once again seized the signs.  This time, Honolulu was much more dramatic.  On October 18, city workers, backed by police officers, squad cars and a bulldozer, came by and literally bulldozed those protest signs.

The city’s actions show a shameful lack of respect for the First and Fourth Amendments.  Citizens have a right to protest government actions.  The First Amendment was enacted precisely to protect citizens who criticize the government from retaliation.  Lawsuits challenging Honolulu’s unreasonable seizures and chilling attacks on free speech are now pending in federal court.

Unfortunately, Honolulu is not alone in trying to silence critics who question eminent domain.  The Institute for Justice has represented citizens in St. Louis, Mo., Norfolk, Va., Tennessee, and Texas who protested abusive property seizures and faced censorship.  Out of these four cases, IJ successfully defended free speech in three cases, while the fourth is currently in litigation.

After 24 of his buildings were taken by St. Louis, Jim Roos painted a giant mural on a building he owned advocating “End Eminent Domain Abuse.”  But St. Louis labeled the mural an “illegal sign” and wanted to force Jim to remove the sign (and stifle his right to protest) or face code violations.  He teamed up with the Institute for Justice and sued the city.  In a major win for the First Amendment, in July 2011, the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Jim and allowed the mural to stay up.

In a similar vein, IJ has defended grassroots activists from a frivolous defamation lawsuit and protected an investigative journalist’s right to free speech from a vindictive private developer.

More recently, the Institute for Justice is suing the city of Norfolk for trying to squash a small business owner’s eminent domain protest sign.  The Central Radio Company, a repair shop, has been in Norfolk for almost eight decades.  But Norfolk had plans to seize the property with eminent domain for a private redevelopment project.

To protest, owner Bob Wilson displayed a huge banner on-site.  The city responded by telling Bob he had to take down the sign or face fines of up to $1,000 per day.  Fortunately, the Virginia Supreme Court unanimously struck down the city’s attempt to seize Bob’s land; his free speech case is still infederal court.

As the cases make clear, courts routinely respect Americans’ First Amendment rights.  Honolulu should do the same.

Postscript: Mayor Kirk Caldwell also shut down the owner’s business with Reynolds Recycling on October 21, 2013. Public push back forced the Mayor to cut a deal with Reynolds to return to the adjacent city Lot 64 on December 20, 2013. The Caldwell Administration did not disclose that it is on a month-to-month lease. Should the Mayor gets permission from the courts to condemn, the last two commercial zone lots will be decimated and recycling business  gone.
The only valid reason for Mayor Kirk Caldwell to shove this extra expensive fire station onto this small rural community is he owes a plum building contract to a donor!  The Mayor  wants to build a huge Kapolei City station in the small rural town of Hauula.
The Mayor can be contacted at mayor@honolulu.gov    808 768-4141
City Council Chair Ernie Martin  at emartin@honolulu.gov   808 768-5002
Choon James at ChoonJamesHawaii@gmail.com   808 293 9111