District 2 Honolulu City Council member Heidi Tsuneyoshi’s Resolution 22-11 for Eminent Domain to acquire a private property through the Department and Planning (DPP) Fines was introduced at the Executive Matters and Legal Affairs on February 8, 2022. The Eminent Domain Resolution 20-11 was quickly amended to “Judicial Foreclosure” within half an hour in that EMLA Committee.
The full Honolulu City Council adopted amended the Resolution 22-11 at its Regular Meeting on February 23, 2022. ( Public Testimonies are in the front. Resolution discussion begins around 2:45.)
This Resolution ignited grassroots support for the embattled property owner. Additional efforts came from grassroots who do not follow the city council proceedings. Some do not even have email accounts or access to ZOOM or the likes.
On the other hand, we see a full-scale governmental convergence on this small immigrant owner by his District City Council woman Heidi Tsuneyoshi’s quick adoption of this Resolution 22-11.
” BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that copies of this resolution be transmitted to the Mayor, the Managing Director, the Director of Land Management, the Director of Planning and Permitting, the Corporation Counsel, the Prosecuting Attorney, the State of Hawaii Attorney General, and the State of Hawaii Director of the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs.“
The morning after the adoption of the Judicial Foreclosure Resolution 22-11, a SEARCH WARRANT was executed at the subject property. The SEARCH WARRANT sets this property up a new level of criminalizing the violations through the Hawaii Revised Statutes. This shows the force and the long arm of the government.
Rumors were circulating in the communities of the authorities “searching” for bodies, skeletons, drugs, and other illegal activities.
I asked the property owner Taufa after the Search Warrant was completed. He said that the authorities brought a backhoe to dig some parts of the property. They also searched the containers. He thought that perhaps he was being connected to a recent event where an alleged suspect was found in his property.
The Property Owner said that his worker found a man hiding in his farm one morning. The intruder in his farm was hurt and had blood on him. Taufa said they called 911 to come help this intruder.
I believe the property owner’s act of charity towards this intruder in his open farm by calling for an ambulance may just protect the owner from being accused of being a possible accessory to a crime.
This intruder was recognized by HPD who later arrested him as the alleged criminal who was involved in a fire in Pearl Ridge, that later revealed a body.
There is a controversy relating to the use of farmlands in Hauula, Oahu. Something interesting popped up.
The Honolulu City Council woman Heidi Tsuneyoshi accused the property owner of not farming at his Agriculture-zone land but using the property as a base yard. Her Resolution 22-11 to urge the city to take his property through eminent domain ( which was changed to Judicial Foreclosure quickly) was adopted in 25 Working Days.
“URGING THE CITY ADMINISTRATION TO PROCEED WITH THE JUDICIAL FORECLOSURE OF THE CITY’S LIENS ON THE PROPERTY AT 54-406 KAMEHAMEHA HIGHWAY IN HAUʻULA (TAX MAP KEY 5-4-004:021) IN ORDER TO PROTECT THE PUBLIC HEALTH AND SAFETY FROM ENVIRONMENTAL DEGREDATION.”
Some of the comments were that this owner did not farm on the agricultural land.
Actually, a closer look reveals that there are farming on the property although more can be done.
The main crop is tapioca. Would you be able to recognize if you see one? To a non-farmer of tropical crops, tapioca plants look like “rubbish growth”.
Click on this link to see what a great root plant this is.
There is no question that the subject property owner Taufa needs to correct his violations. But these violations take time to cure.
A city council member should especially make the efforts to reach out to those in trouble and try to help them. Immigrant families especially need more education and understanding in addressing Hawaii’s land use issues.
I’ve known many immigrants here for over forty years. Some may be here for a while but still need understanding due to inherent cultural perceptions or lack of knowledge or carelessness. For example: I continue to help educate our Southeast Asian farmers that “Round-Up” must be used very carefully, if at all. Many think that “Round-up” and other chemical fertilizers are simply “Good medicine”.
Even some from the Continental Mainland have misunderstandings of Oahu’s land-use ordinances. In places like Idaho, Tennessee, or Upstate New York, there are still counties with no land-use designations. A property can do as they wish. They can drill a well, build an air-strip, do a quarry business or build a residential home side by side of each other. Hawaii fortunately has a wonderful land-use designations on paper.
It’s a known fact that many contractors store their equipments and do their businesses out of their ag-zoned parcels whether it be roofing, trucking, and so on. I’m not saying that these owners are correct. But parts of the islands do not have “industrial” zone area for such business activities. But I’m saying that it is a very common occurrence in Oahu to mix ag-land with construction businesses.
Thus, if such a quick severe punishment is imposed on one particular owner and not the others, there should be at least a fair and objective outreach by the city council member first.
A few neighbors near this property have complained about this property. They have the right to do so. The Hau’ula Community Association President has weighed in although many in Hau’ula does not feel she represents the community at large. This activism began to snow-ball to include a few north shore environmentalists, who in turn has solicited for testimonies from around the island for DPP to “do its job” in enforcement.
I understand the frustrations with DPP. But we cannot allow this anger against DPP’s chronic lack of enforcement by turning this small property owner into a whipping boy. This is grossly unfair. There is no question that the property owner has violations to cure. Enforcement by DPP is important. But social justice is important too, especially when dealing with minorities and immigrant families.
Unfortunately, instead of granting some outreach to the property owner, City Council Member Tsuneyoshi initiated her first step with this Resolution 22-006.
Measure Title: STRONGLY URGING THE DEPARTMENT OF PLANNING AND PERMITTING TO IMMEDIATELY ADDRESS OUTSTANDING VIOLATIONS RELATED TO THE PROPERTY AT 54-406 KAMEHAMEHA HIGHWAY IN HAU’ULA (TAX MAP KEY 5-4-004:021).
Date Introduced: Jan 7, 2022 Introduced By:HEIDI TSUNEYOSHI
Committee: ZONING AND PLANNING (ZP)
Voting Legend: * = Aye w/Reservations
Reported out for adoption.CR-007 (22)4 AYES: CORDERO, ELEFANTE, KIAʻĀINA, SAY
Committee report and Resolution were adopted.9 AYES: CORDERO, ELEFANTE, FUKUNAGA, KIAʻĀINA, SAY, TSUNEYOSHI, TULBA, TUPOLA, WATERS
After persuading the entire City Council to adopt her Resolution 22-06 on January 26, 2022, despite flawed information, City Council Member Heidi Tsuneyoshi quickly introduced another Resolution 22-11 to use eminent domain on the Taufa’s property at the Executive Matters and Legal Affairs Committee on February 8, 2022.
Measure Title: URGING THE CITY ADMINISTRATION TO ACQUIRE THE PROPERTY AT 54-406 KAMEHAMEHA HIGHWAY IN HAUULA (TAX MAP KEY 5-4-004:021) IN ORDER TO PROTECT THE PUBLIC HEALTH AND SAFETY FROM ENVIRONMENTAL DEGREDATION, INCLUDING, IF NECESSARY, TAKING STEPS TO ACQUIRE THE PROPERTY BY EMINENT DOMAIN.
Date Introduced:Jan 20, 2022 Introduced By:HEIDI TSUNEYOSHI
Committee: EXECUTIVE MATTERS AND LEGAL AFFAIRS (EMLA)
Voting Legend: * = Aye w/Reservations
Reported out for adoption as amended in CD1 form.CR-168 AYES: CORDERO, ELEFANTE, FUKUNAGA, SAY, TSUNEYOSHI, TULBA, TUPOLA, WATERS1 EXCUSED: KIAʻĀINA
The Star Advertiser prepared and published an article on the proposed takings in the morning of February 8, 2022 EMLA ( Executive Matters Legal Affairs) Committee.
District 2 Council member Tsuneyoshi as quoted to Star Advertiser’s Ashley Mizuo:
“Hopefully, it isn’t seen as coming after a property owner. … It was hopeful that we could have come to a resolution where he would have complied with all that’s been told to him to do, but unfortunately, after five years that wasn’t the case.” ( Note that the owners acquired the property in November 2019 which is about two years ago.)
TSUNEYOSHI’S WORDS TO THE STAR ADVERTISER CONTRADICT HER ACTIONS
A close look at the timeline shows that Tsuneyoshi was already lining all the ducks in a row despite her words to the Star Advertiser that it ” shouldn’t be seen as after a property owner “.
February 26, 2020. Note Resolution 22-006 was adopted by the Honolulu City Council.
January 20, 2022. However, note that her new eminent domain Resolution 22-011 was prepared and introduced six days BEFORE Reso 22-006 was adopted.
It’s hard to buy her public statements that “Hopefully, it isn’t seen as coming after a property owner …”.
MORE TARGETING BY TSUNEYOSHI
The discrimination and targeting mounted when Tsuneyoshi persuaded the EMLA Committee to amend her Eminent Domain to Judicial Foreclosure. This action was completed in about an half hour period.
There were other little changes like a spelling error in her Resolution 22-11 with the word correcting “degredation” to “degradation” in the title of her resolution and miscellaneous technical and non substantive amendments.
But other far more substantial errors in the Resolution’s contents were untouched. Contrary Information and concerns submitted by the public did not appear to be considered by her.
EVENMORE TARGETING of PROPERTY OWNER THROUGH INCONSISTENT TREATMENTS
There were three (3) Resolutions relating to Eminent Domain takings. It’s important to note that the 1.Taufa Resolution 22-11 is the only hostile taking of property. Tsuneyoshi stated his compounded DPP fines was about $400,000.00 (However, statement to the news media on February 21, she changed the news media that his fines were about $300,000.00 ). During the EMLA meeting, the Taufa’s eminent domain action was the only Resolution that was changed to Judicial Foreclosure in a very short period.
2. Resolution 21- 280 for eminent domain relates to an abandoned property in Pensacola with Fines of about $900,000.00
3. Resolution 22-22involves a property owners in Waianae who told the City Council members that she would be so happy if the city would acquire her property.
These actions should be alarming to any private property owner. There is no consistency in the application of Due Process. There appeared to be no clear understanding of the differences of Eminent Domain versus Judicial Foreclosure but it was quickly decided upon anyways.
So, what is the threshold to take someone’s property by Eminent Domain or Judicial Foreclosure?
Is it $900K as in the the Pensacola Street property?
Or is it $300K or $400k as in the subject Hau’ula Property?
Since the Hau’ula property is now solely targeted for Judicial Foreclosure takings, how is this process going to play out?
Judicial Foreclosures is generally a mortgage delinquency issue. We know that the county has powers to auction off a private property owner who has trouble paying their real property taxes. We also know that the City County of Honolulu has practiced forbearance in helping private properties solve their financial problems by allowing them TIME.
In this case here, we’re talking about county land-use violation fines. Some of violations were incorrect but the owners were fined.
There are still many OTHER unanswered questions relating to this issue.
Why is City Council member Heidi Tsuneyoshi rushing this hostile taking of this property?
Honolulu City Council member Heidi Tsuneyoshi is rushing city legislation Resolution 22-011 for the Mayor and the Department of Planning and Permitting ( DPP) to impose “Judicial Foreclosure” on this private property owner. ( It started out as “eminent domain” but was quickly amended to “Judicial Foreclosure”).
I understand there are land-use violations by the owners. Yes, the owner must correct the violations. There is no question about that. Those who know also know that working with DPP takes time.
We need to remember that these past two years also suffered from COVID19 lockdowns and disruption. He has submitted applications to cure his violations. He’s been working with a hired engineer and an architect to cure the violations. Again, these actions take significant time. Processing permits takes time even before the COVID19 pandemic.
But if DPP is told to not issue him permits to cure his violations, it’s a Catch 22. It’s discrimination and retaliation. It’s Big Government wielding its Big Stick that undermines due process.
This is a hardworking immigrant owner from the Island of Tonga. I submit that the cultural differences and lack of understanding need to be part of the deliberations. I’ve recently talked with Hopoate and Annetta Taufa. They did not recognize or understand the severity of these hostile actions till just recently. So now they’re fighting for their land. Unfortunately, Annetta is also fighting literally for her life. She’s under hospice care in their home in Laie.
It’s wrong for Tsuneyoshi to push eminent domain or judicial foreclosure quickly on a small private property. Her actions are abusive and undermine private property rights. Tsuneyoshi has accused the owner of violating for five years to the other city council members and to the Honolulu Star Advertiser with a readership of about 147,959 weekdays 162,287 Sundays. But, the owners acquired this property on November 2019. That’s 2.5 years.
This private property taking is off to hostile and unfair start. Resolutions to seize private property must be carefully and correctly vetted with correct data and correct research. City Council members should be working with their constituents when they’re in trouble, not bully them with severe punishments so quickly. Our immigrant families may need extra help on many levels. Understanding Hawaii’s diversity and showing some compassion is in order, especially for legislators
Sometimes memes can be too witty not to share. This is one of them. The couple officially divorced on August 2, 2021 after their 27-year marriage.
The divorce between the couple has been “classy”. We should thank them for not dragging the public into their own personal drama or each trying to convince the public to their side. Let’s wish the best to them and their future endeavors.
I’ve always been interested to see the functioning of the government that is supposed to serve the people of Hawaii. Like other observers, we’re frustrated by the disconnect and the mess that we’re in.
Recently, a former State Senator and a State Representative were caught in a corruption sting. They succumbed to the bribes so quickly and blatantly. This expose has obviously created a lot of political posturing to deflect and distract from the core problems at hand.
Today’s Letter to the Editor at the Honolulu Star Advertiser reinforces the ongoing disdain and distrust for our political system.
People seem surprised by the recent corruption.
I once was at a social event with the local FBI chief and I asked him what his biggest problem was locally. I expected him to say something about drugs, the local mafia or international crime. He said it was local political corruption. This was 25 years ago.
It’s been around forever, folks.
Those are are involved in the system must have experiences with irregularities, wrongdoings, and suspicions. But sometimes a small island forces one to “go along and get along”. The two legislators will expectedly will be punished for their small amounts, relatively speaking. Campaign donations run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. These legalized “donations” need to be reined in.
It does not automatically mean that all donations are questionable. Some sincerely donate to causes and confidence that a candidate will best represent the public good. But it’s difficult to accept that hefty donations are given without any expectations of favors or attention.
I grew up in Singapore and went to English schools which were under the British system. We had the privilege of learning about great British poets and authors. We all have our favorite. Here is one of mine by Rudyard Kipling.
If you can keep your head when all about you Are losing theirs and blaming it on you, If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, But make allowance for their doubting too; If you can wait and not be tired by waiting, Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies, Or being hated, don’t give way to hating, And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master; If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim; If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster And treat those two impostors just the same; If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools, Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken, And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss, And lose, and start again at your beginnings And never breathe a word about your loss; If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew To serve your turn long after they are gone, And so hold on when there is nothing in you Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue, Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch, If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you, If all men count with you, but none too much; If you can fill the unforgiving minute With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run, Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it, And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!
The news of Producer/Actor Alex Baldwin allegedly killing his cinematographer on set for his new movie at a Santa Fe, New Mexico ranch on October 21, 2021 at around 12:50 pm controlled the U.S. media for a few days.
Being a learned cynic of the media and politics, I naturally leaned towards Baldwin trying to influence the jury pool with the help of friends from his media circle of influence. Baldwin is a very politically involved supporter in the Democratic Party. Stephanopoulos has an established pedigree in the political circles of the Democratic Party and the former Bill Clinton Administration.
The family of the cinematographer deserves the right to seek due process in the judicial system. Let’s hope that this judicial process does not become a political or social media trial.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The family of a cinematographer shot and killed on the set of the film “Rust” sued Alec Baldwin and the movie’s producers Tuesday alleging their “callous” disregard in the face of safety complaints led directly to her death.
At a news conference announcing the lawsuit, attorneys for the husband and 9-year-old son of Halyna Hutchins said that Baldwin refused training for the type of “cross-draw” he was performing when he fired the shot that killed her.
Baldwin’s attorney responded that any claim the actor was reckless is “entirely false.”
No matter who the Plaintiff or the Defendant is, Judges must remain neutral and respect the process. It will help maintain a sense of fairness if judges can exercise a little more discipline in the process.
There is already too much mistrust in government. The judiciary system must at least uphold its fundamental duty to equal justice to all.
I’m not a Sarah Palin fan but it concerns me when Federal Judge Jed S. Rakoff publicly announces that he will dismiss Palin’s libel suit against New York Times BEFORE the jury has rendered its verdict.
Waiting and respecting the Jury’s decision would have been the disciplined route to take.
The jury was still deliberating behind closed doors in a Lower Manhattan courthouse, adding an unexpected and unusual twist in a case that is a major test of the First Amendment protections that journalists work under. Judge Jed S. Rakoff said he would allow the jurors to continue weighing the arguments by both sides. If they rule in favor of Ms. Palin, he will set aside their verdict and dismiss the case, he said.”