My written testimony to Public Safety & Intergovernment & Military Affairs (CPM)

KILL HB 538 –  ( also HB 15  & SB 875)

You can register testimony to OPPOSE HB538 or SUPPORT HB 538.

The committee(s) on PSM has scheduled a public hearing on 03-17-23 3:02PM; Conference Room 225 & Videoconference

Report Title:Residential Real Property; Counties; Zoning Violation; Penalties
Description:Establishes penalties for failure to remediate violations, including  fines and, under circumstances, foreclosure. Effective 6/30/3000. (HD1)

Aloha to all,

I know you have too much to read and digest in such a short time. 3132 bills for this session is insane! Which human can carefully analyze all these bills carefully for decision-making and study its overall impacts, unforeseen or unintended consequences?

Before we go further, I’m sharing a few excerpts from the recent Supreme Court ruling relating to the US Constitution 14th Amendment.  It relates to  HB 538 (and SB 875 & HB 15) about CIVIL fines, Due Process, and so on.  

The late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said it best in one of her last Opinions for the US Supreme Court in Timbs vs Indiana relating to excessive CIVIL fines and Due Process. Below are some of jurist RBG’s messages to all of us from the grave:

“This Court has held that the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause incorporates the protections contained in the Bill of Rights, rendering them applicable to the States.”  

For good reason, the protection against excessive fines has been a constant shield throughout Anglo-American history: Exorbitant tolls undermine other constitutional liberties. Excessive fines can be used, for example, to retaliate against or chill the speech of political enemies, as the Stuarts’ critics learned several centuries ago.”

” Protection against excessive fines has been a constant shield throughout Anglo-American history for good reason: Such fines undermine other liberties. They can be used, e.g., to retaliate against or chill the speech of political enemies. They can also be employed, not in service of penal purposes, but as a source of revenue. The historical and logical case for concluding that the Fourteenth Amendment incorporates the Excessive Fines Clause is indeed overwhelming.”

“Even absent a political motive, fines may be employed “in a measure out of accord with the penal goals of retribution and deterrence,” for “fines are a source of revenue,”

” In short, the historical and logical case for concluding that the Fourteenth Amendment incorporates the Excessive Fines Clause is overwhelming. Protection against excessive punitive economic sanctions secured by the Clause is, to repeat, both “fundamental to our scheme of ordered liberty” and “deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition.”       

Punishments and Penalties

When you’re in a position of power, it’s even more incumbent on you to be much more circumspect and focused in your decision-making. It might be fun or satisfying to punish the supposed egregious ones. But it doesn’t mean that the US Constitution can become marginalized to punish them. It’s never a good policy to burn down the Cathedral of Civil Rights to fry a few bad eggs.

Civil Rights is Civil Rights. You can’t protect abortion civil rights but destroy private property rights. You must uphold and protect the US Constitution that you swore to do. The Constitution has protected equality, justice, and Due Process for over 200 years!

It appears the HB 538 introducers must not know about the challenges of working with DPP or getting a permit to be approved by DPP.

One has to question how a small lot in Kalihi Heights can be fined for $15.8 million for “overgrown weeds”. This local owner is a 50% Hawaiian man with chronic and severe health problems. There is much more to this situation here.

Where is the Aloha?

Where is the compassion to help our local residents who are already struggling and trying to keep up with the cost of living in Hawaii?

I hope this Star Advertiser report of “uncashed fines” is not giving any counties ideas for a new stream of income and future revenues. 

There are always two sides to a story. The government is here to help, not to steal people’s homes and properties.

Most people work their tails off and sacrificed to own properties in Hawaii. 

Who can trust DPP?

This is nothing personal. But these few clips will provide you a quick overview of what’s happening at the Department of Planning and Permitting.  DPP is struggling. Its workers are overloaded. Through the years, the Mayors and City Councils have also contributed to these modern day problems by their actions.

Through the years, land-use density has been greatly increased. It used to be that an owner could not build on more than 50% of their total land area.

Why blame the Monster Homes when it was DPP who approved the permits in the first place? 

Excessive Fines and Cruel & Unusual Punishments

HB 583 is off-based. It may have some “egregious” owners in mind to punish but there are too much unforeseen consequences.

HB 538 is out of touch with the majority of the private property owners, construction and real estate world.

These timelines are too impractical and oppressive.

HB 538 assumes that DPP is always right and the public is always wrong.

Kill HB 538  AND SB 875 and HB 15.

The Counties have many other options.

Submitted by Choon James

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