The Owners Hopoate Hafoka Taufa and Annetta Kihesina Tuifua Taufa acquired their Hau’ula farm of 12.693 acres zoned Agricultural 2 on November 7, 2019. This acquisition took place just slightly before COVID 19 would hamper much of our social and governmental interactions.
The owner received Notices of Violations (NOV) from the Honolulu City and County Department of Planning and Permitting (DDP). These actions were allegedly due to a few neighbors across the subject property who complained about the owner using the property as a “base yard”. Neighbors have the right to express their complaints and concerns.
On the COUNTY DPP level, below is summary of the owners’ violations on the DPP’s website.
However, the last two violations are inaccurate. Ag-2 zoned properties are exempted from certain required permits. Ag2 owners can have fences up to ten feet without a permit, except a concrete wall.
The last violation is also exempted. Ag-2 owners can have metal containers without a permit.
The standard customary procedure for residents to cure violations from DPP is to submit applications to DPP for building permits. However, according to the owner, the city DPP recently cancelled the pending approval of his permits. This became a Catch-22 for the owner.
How is a resident able to cure a violation if he cannot get a permit from DPP? In the meanwhile, the DPP fines compounded and escalated.
On January 20, 2022, City Councilwoman Heidi Tsuneyoshi introduced Resolution 22-11 to urge the Blangiardi Administration for “eminent domain” on this property.
Councilwoman HeidiTsuneyoshi repeatedly accused the owner of violating for five years. The owners have owned the property for less than 2.5 years.
There were also extenuating circumstances, including COVID19 delay complications. There are obvious cultural differences towards land use issues. The immigrant family from the Kingdom of Tonga also had health challenges; the young mother is now under hospice care.
On February 8, 2022, Resolution 22-11 was heard at the County Council Executive Matters Legal Affairs (EMLA) Committee. Within a half hour period, Resolution 22-11 for “eminent domain” was quickly amended to “Judicial Foreclosure”.
On February 23, 2022, Resolution 22-11 was adopted by the full Honolulu City Council. This process only took 25 working days!
This is a highly irregular situation.
What are we to think about this case?
Why the haste to enforce on this particular property?
Unbeknownst to the general public, HB 1434 submitted by Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi is also pending. The DPP Director and five Honolulu City Council Members also testified or submitted written testimony to the STATE Hawaii Legislature for added powers to seize property through NON-Judicial Foreclosure, due to DPP county fines.