The City and County of Honolulu is asking to have POWER of SALE on Oahu’s property owners based on DPP liens. Bill 106 will affect ALL Counties.
JHA 1/31/23 2:00 PM Tuesday 325 VIA VIDEOCONFERENCE
BILL 106 and companion SB 216 may sound harmless in an ideal world with perfect fairness and equity and justice for all.
But in real life, these bills are too over-reaching and will further marginalize Private Property Rights.
Bill 106 slams Due Process for ordinary citizens. There are systemic failures of discrimination, inequity, and entrenched bureaucracy at Honolulu Hale. This Power of Sale will expose every property owner to the possible whim of politicians, government officials and its powerful political machine.
Although there is supposedly a fair “process” in place, our decades of participating at Honolulu Hale and the records have shown otherwise. Repeatedly we have witnessed that this same “process” has been unfair and inequitable to ordinary citizens. No matter how thin the cheese is sliced, there are always two sides to it. But the government almost always wins because it has the upper-hand, resources and a legal corporate team to ignore or fight ordinary citizens.
Most ordinary citizens are not born with a silver spoon in their mouth. They work their tails off to achieve real property ownership. The County’s role ought to be helping property owners correct their violations and be in compliance; not be too eager to seize private properties through fines.
This POWER of SALE is NOT about a mortgage company foreclosing based on non-payments of a borrower. This is about the government seizing properties, based on DPP fines.
There is an alleged reason or justification that this Power of Sale is needed to enforce “monster homes” or “illegal vacation rentals”.
The isolated problems with monster homes and illegal vacation rentals are not compelling enough to provide counties with this unfettered powers. DPP needs to examine why monster homes are approved for permits in the first place. There was a time when a property owner could only build up to 50% of its land area. Incrementally, the city has approved regulations and ordinances that allow increased density in its land-use legislation.
As a matter of public policy making and with a bigger picture, providing all counties with this Power of Sale for the above alleged reason is akin to tearing down a Cathedral to fry an egg.
Ordinary citizens cannot afford expensive legal representation to make sure their side of the story is heard and fairly considered in the legislative decision-making.
Affluent and well-connected citizens have the means to circumvent DPP. Ordinary citizens will become the casualties of this powerful and overreaching legislation.
This Power of Sale (aka Non-judicial Foreclosure) is overreaching and tyrannical. This Power of Sale authority makes every property owner a sitting duck at the whim of the city.
Basing a POWER of SALE ( aka NON-Judicial Foreclosure) through DPP fines and recorded liens is the worst possible exposure for more corruption and possible political retaliation.
The City and County of Honolulu requested this same power aka “non-judicial foreclosure” in 2022.
Please read the 2022 written testimonies that provide a very brief summary of this issue. This far-reaching governmental power will affect all Counties but it was one of the best-kept secrets in 2022. It is the same in 2023.
Please protect Due Process and protect private property rights. As if Eminent Domain is insufficient for the government, the Honolulu County is again asking for a quick Power of Sale aka non-judicial foreclosure.
This governmental power is too much to bear in a democratic society. Private Property Rights must be revered as one of Democracy’s foundational pillars. The counties have other options.
First term 2018-2022 City Councilwoman Heidi Tsuneyoshi has chosen to run for Governor instead of running for a second term at Honolulu Hale.
City Council Candidates for Elections 2022
It’s interesting to note that Chad Tsuneyoshi, the husband of present City Councilmember Heidi Tsuneyoshi, filed to run for the same office at the very last minute. The couple recently underwent a divorce. However, political cynics question if this was a convenience for the gubernatorial candidate to not have to address any further background questions relating to Chad Tsuneyoshi’s past criminal record.
A question of his filing is whether Chad Tsuneyoshi thinks he could capitalize on the name recognition in Council District 2. Incumbent politicians always have a huge advantage in re-elections due to name recognition unless there is a huge monumental scandal or corruption. (However, incumbent CM Heidi Tsuneyoshi, has made some very troublesome decisions as the District 2 council member.)
Here is some information about Chad Tsuneyoshi from public records.
Apparently, Chad Tsuneyoshi has been working very hard with political campaigns, including Ernie Martin, Charles Djou, Trevor Ozawa, his wife’s city council campaign in 2018 and perhaps other candidates.’
Editor Andrew Walden from Hawaii Free Press described Chad Tsuneyoshi as such:
“Convicted cocaine dealer Chad Tsuneyoshi is taking over as Honolulu Council Chair Ernie Martin’s Campaign Treasurer. “
My own personal experiences with the Chad and Heidi Tsuneyoshi were from my city council campaign in 2018. Chad Tsuneyoshi was managing his wife’s campaign.
We had one of the more nasty campaigns that included anonymous negative attacks through USPO mailings and email, stolen and vandalized political banners, mass facebook messaging behind our backs, social media trolls injecting fabricated rumours and smears in conversations, and so on.
This was a period that had one of those “in your face” tactics that everybody could logically guess which campaign camp the perpetrators were from. But nobody had the time or resources to get to the bottom of it.
CIVIL BEAT: ” Envelopes sent with no return address arrived at homes across north Oahu this summer. Inside were flyers criticizing the political record of Robert “Bobby” Bunda, one of four candidates in the Honolulu City Council District 2 race.
Dave Burlew, a Kahuku farmer also running for the seat, was shocked to receive one of these letters and even more surprised to find “VOTE DAVE BURLEW FOR CITY COUNCIL!!” at the bottom of the flyer along with his P.O. box number.
“That’s when it got ugly,” Burlew said.
Burlew said he does not know who is responsible for the flyers. Heidi Tsuneyoshi and Choon James, the two other candidates in the race, also say they have no knowledge of where the letters come from. “
Logic told us that Robert Bunda could not be the person to smear himself. Dave Burlew and I (Choon James) were friends with similar values. Both of us knew 100% we did not do that. So, who was left?
Unite Local 5 which endorsed Robert Bunda in 2018 had this to say:
“July 2018 – Some may disagree with our support of Bobby Bunda, and that’s ok. But we’re confident Bobby is the best candidate for Council District 2.
Bobby has never shied away from criticism, but he has also been subject to a series of unfair, illegal and anonymous mailers that do not reflect the values of our hard working families in District 2. The sender of these mailers want you to believe they came from Dave Burlew, another candidate in the race, but he sent a statement to the State Campaign Spending Commission saying he had nothing to do with the mailers.
Before you vote, or even if you have already voted, you should know the whole truth behind each candidate. Google search Heidi Tsuneyoshi, Dave Burlew, Choon James and Bobby Bunda and start learning the facts. Also, ask yourself which candidate has enough money to pay for an expensive mass mailing campaign and stands to gain the most from attacking Bobby Bunda? “
Tsuneyoshi’s Donations for her City Council race included these:
Heidi Tsuneyoshi was one of the very few selected candidates who received donations from indicted organized crime boss Michael Miske. Tsuneyoshi did not respond to Civil Beat’s request for comment.
Tsuneyoshi also received $31,950 from Mitsunaga & Associates whose principals have recently been indicted along with City Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro for charges of conspiracy and bribery practices.
Honolulu Council Woman Tsuneyoshi complained about her constituents exercising their Free Speech at the Honolulu City Council Hearing on February 23, 2022.
About a hundred community members and high school students were protesting on February 19, 2022 in Hau’ula. They were against her flawed and quick Resolution 22-11 to seize private property through the Department of Planning and Permitting’s fines.
Based on her record and behavior on this issue, this city council woman IS bullying her constituent, an immigrant owner from Tonga.
This is not to say that neighbors cannot complain about their concerns and be heard. This is about treating all constituents the same with the same Due Process.
However, it was ok for Tsuneyoshi to malign her own constituent in the Honolulu Star Advertiser, with a readership of about 162,287 on Oahu, that the owner has been in violations with DPP for 5 years. The public record shows Owner Taufa has been the owner for 2.5 years!
Tsuneyoshi forgets she’s paid by taxpayers in her position with good benefits at the Honolulu City Council. Residents have the right to question and protest her actions. Basic First Amendment is a constitutional right – – The Public has the right to assemble and to exercise their Free Speech.
Democracy thrives when residents are not afraid to protest and question politicians on any issue.
Her public complaints against the residents’ protests reveal narcissism in this politician. Most property owners are not born with a silver spoon in their mouth. They work, sacrifice, and toil very hard to be a property owner. Seizing a private property, without proper vetting and due process, through eminent domain or judicial foreclosure in this case is very hostile and severe.
Tsuneyoshi herself is championing this very harsh seizure of a family property but she’s complaining about signs against her as a public official? This is a major disconnect in her logic.
Narcissistic personality disorder involves a pattern of self-centered, arrogant thinking and behavior, a lack of empathy and consideration for other people, and an excessive need for admiration. Others often describe people with NPD as manipulative, selfish, patronizing, and demanding.
NOTE: Because this is such a severe assault on private property rights, I will be following this issue. I will post different segments on this site, for easier reading.
Honolulu District 2 City Council member Heidi Tsuneyoshi hastily pushed through this Resolution 22-11 on an immigrant family from the Island of Tonga. The property owner Taufa bought their Ag-2 farm of 12.693 acres on November 7, 2019.
The property is along 54-406 Kamehameha Highway, next to the Hau’ula Kai Shopping Center. It also has valuable highway frontage. On the mauka side, it is abutting two other major land owners with thousands of acres – LOCAL 675/UNITED ASSOC and PROPERTY RESERVE INC.
Council member Tsuneyoshi’s Resolution 22-11 is confusing – – with different allegations and accusations that are not under the Honolulu City and County’s jurisdiction of enforcement.
The specific county Department of Planning and Permitting (DPP) violations (with a compounded fines of about $400,000.00) in the Resolution 22-11 to urge eminent domain are:
1) grubbing and grading without a permit,
2) constructing a structure, fence, and utility pole without a permit,
3) storing metal containers without a permit, and
4) operating a base yard for construction vehicles and equipment in an AG-2 District.
According to the private owner Taufa, he was told by DPP to apply for permits to correct his Notices of Violations ( NOVs).
Taufa had questions about DPP giving him violations and fines with the short fences to keep wild pigs from eating his tapioca crops and storing metal containers on his farm. Fences and storing metal containers are allowed on Ag lands. The owner was also asked to remove hundreds of feet of his boundary chain-link fence, of which he did.
Taufa also hired an engineer to help with his grubbing and grading violations. The approval permit to cure the grading was cancelled recently. His permit to cure the relocated structure was cancelled. DPP was told to not give him permits that turned this situation into a CATCH 22. All these fines, whether accurate or not, compounded during the past two years to a hefty fine of about $400,000.00
He has started removing his commercial equipment and vehicles from the farm.
Timeline for Tsuneyoshi’s Resolution 22-11
January 20, 2022 Tsuneyoshi authored and introduced Resolution 22-11 for Eminent Domain.
February 8, 2022, she quietly presented her Resolution 22-11 away from the public radar at the Executive Matters and Legal Affairs (EMLA) Committee. There were three (3) eminent domain cases that day. Two Resolutions appeared friendly, with one owner telling the city she hoped the city could take her property.
Taufa’s property was the hostile taking. Interestingly, his property was quickly changed from “Eminent Domain” to “Judicial Foreclosure” during the EMLA Committee Meeting.
February 23, 2022, the Resolution 22-11 was adopted by the full Council. It took the City Council twenty-five (25) working days to introduce and adopt this Resolution.
February 24, 2022, a SEARCH WARRANT, filed on February 18, 2022, from the State Attorney’s Office was conducted at Taufa’s farm. Major television media stations were tipped off about this SEARCH WARRANT action.
What’s going on?
Why this mad rush to target a private property owner and criminalize his violations?
Are there other motives behind this quick taking?
Why is Tsuneyoshi a city county council member taking on the enforcement roles of the State (like Department of Health (DOH), Attorney General’s Office,Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs) and Federal (EPA) enforcements? We asked the DOH and were told that they are looking for compliance and not in working to take properties.
A little research brings out a few more details about the city’s agenda.
The public does not seem to know about these State legislative actions. I contacted State Legislators who did not seem to be aware either.
When County Council member Heidi Tsuneyoshi’s Resolution 22-11 was being adopted on February 23, 2022, there was a concurrent Bill HB 1434 being heard at the Hawaii State Legislature to seize private property based on DPP Fines.
This Bill HB 1434 further tightens the noose on a private property owner. Never mind “Eminent Domain” or even “Judicial Foreclosure”. The Honolulu DPP wants “NON-Judicial Foreclosure” – a quicker seizure of property without going to court.
(UPDATED NOTE: March 10, 2022 – the wording of “NON-Judicial Foreclosure” is deleted in the HB 1434 and SB 2110. The wording of “Power of Sale” is now used.) But other statements allude to “NON-JUDICIAL FORECLOSURE”.
This BILL HB 1434 was so away from the public radar that there were no public testimonies. Only three testimonies were received; all from Honolulu Hale. The following is a testimony from the Director of Planning and Permitting:
Here is the testimony from Honolulu City Council Chair of the Zoning and Planning Committee, Brandon Elefante:
Here is the testimony from Honolulu City Council Budget Chair Calvin Say:
What do you think?
Is Private Property Rights under assault?
Should private property owners be afraid of DPP’s ambitions?
Can the public trust DPP to be fair and consistent in its application of punishments?
What could possibly go wrong with giving this much added powers to DPP?
Is the City trying to find a new source of revenue?
Are these actions inching towards a totalitarian system?
I’m going to be following this Resolution 22-11 introduced by District 2 City Councilmember Heidi Tsuneyoshi and sharing my misgivings about this flawed process.
The public testimony was conducted at the beginning of the council hearing. Local resident Ben Martin of Ko’olauloa of fifty years also opposed the Resolution. He has known Owner Taufa for thirty years. Perhaps his was sharpest rebuke against Tsuneyoshi’s actions:
“Judicial Foreclosure is drastic. It should be the last resort. And it should not be a way to resolve a problem. Miss Heidi Tsuneyoshi is the protagonist representing the complainants. I’m an attorney by profession. And she’s representing the complainants assuming like they are the victims. But also Pate is a victim of the DPP for the long delays of approving and helping him comply. “
Should the council member be objective and fair to all parties involved? She’s holding a public office and supported by all taxpayers of Oahu.
Martin highlighted the strikes against Owner Taufa. Although Tsuneyoshi should represent ALL of her constituents in solving a community problem, her actions showed her intentions to punish him with the biggest stick the city had – eminent domain.
This is not to say that neighbors cannot complain. Neighbors have the right to complain and address their concerns. Owner Taufa needs to fix his violations and be a good neighbor.
But a city council Resolution to seize private property through eminent domain is a drastic measure that requires careful study of over-arching issues and correct data. Based on my observations, there had been insufficient vetting done prior to this action being adopted.
To make this situation worse, Tsuneyoshi just announced that she was running for Republican nomination for Governor. Her platform – “servant leader,” “her love for the people of Hawaii,” “transparency and accountability in government,” contradicts her actions with her Resolution 22-11.
Tsuneyoshi did not think it was important to do an outreach to this immigrant family. Something as drastic as seizing private property requires a basic courtesy outreach to her constituents.
Tsuneyoshi did not even inform Owner Taufa of the Executive Matters and Legal Affairs (EMLA) Committee Meeting on February 8, 2022. It was the EMLA Chair Tupola from another District who offered that courtesy to Owner Taufa.
The video of the EMLA meeting showed Tsuneyoshi asking for a recess when Tupola announced that Owner Taufa would be coming online to explain himself.
Tsuneyoshi called for a quick recess upon hearing that. Why? Insiders said Tsuneyoshi was upset with the EMLA Chair that she was not told this ( getting Taufa online) was going to happen.
So, was Tsuneyoshi’s strategy to push through this Resolution 22-11 for Eminent Domain under the radar? Note there was no testimony at the EMLA Committee on February 8, 2022.
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 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
Aloha Honorable Chair City Council Ernie Martin (District 2), Ikaika Anderson, Carol Fukunaga, Ron Menor, Kymberly Pine, Brandon Elefante, Ann Kobayashi, Trevor Ozawa, and Joey Manahan.
During the Primary Elections campaign for your seat, ALL four candidates – Robert Bobby Bunda, Dave Burlew, Choon James, Heidi Tsuneyoshi have publicly stated that they are for agricultural lands preservation. Particularly, at the Hauula Candidates Forum and the Kahuku Candidates Forum, the question was asked directly about Bill 1. ALL candidates stated that they were against the alleged 200 homes proposed on so-called “North Laie”. They were against expanding the community growth boundaries between Laie and Malaekahana, a subdistrict of Kahuku. Unless the candidates are lying to get votes, this reflects each candidate’s position.
Additionally, the most robust indication of the general population’s sentiments can be found in Senator Gil Riviere’s position on Bill 1 ( aka Bill 47 or Bill 53). Senator Riviere has consistently testified in person at City Council hearings in support of Bill 1 aka Bill 47 and aka Bill 53, without further amendments to expand the boundary growth into the agricultural Malaekahana area. Senator Riviere has been clear and precise. There is no ambiguity in his actions or words through the years as the Senator for this district. He most recently received a strong 67% of the public vote on August 11, 2018. This reflects a mandate from the people of this area.
During the past two short months that I myself have campaigned for your City Council seat for District 2, I received the same feedback from our residents.
While I could not quickly share the record of my decades old advocacy and civic activism to garner enough votes in Wahiawa and Mililani Mauka this primary elections, I have again received the confirmation that our residents in District 2 and all over Oahu want to KEEP THE COUNTRY COUNTRY! And it’s not because they are against housing.
They do not want to see the entire island of Oahu paved over and turned into a parking lot. The other issue that is consistently brought up is the costs of living and traffic. Your residents are fed-up and up-in- arms about the Laniakea traffic that destroys their quality of life with daily frustrations and angst of traffic jam. Residents are fed-up with having to work two or three jobs to keep up with the rising fees, taxes and other costs.
From Kahalu’u to Hale’iwa, our small communities are connected by the 100 year old 2 lane Kamehameha Hwy. They are angry that the politicians who supposedly represent them are not considering the carrying capacity of infrastructures in our rural communities and yet continue to lure more and more tourists into the area. They are not happy that farm lands are disappearing and displaced with homes that they cannot afford. No one is against housing but most are leery of gentrification where the most affluent will chase the less affluent out of this region.
As you know, the Ko’olauloa Sustainable Communities Plan has been in limbo as Bill 47, Bill 53 and Bill 1 for the nearly past eight (8) years that you have been in office.
Many of us find it highly unfair and unethical for you, as it appears, to now want to push this Bill 1 through at the very last few months of your tenure as the City Council man for this district.
This Ko’olauloa Sustainable Communities Plan has been in limbo for nearly 8 years; what’s the problem with waiting for a few more months for the new city council member to more fully address it. After all, your staff, Heidi Tsuneyoshi, city council member-elect, has publicly stated her position AGAINST it at various public forums during the campaign.
I submit that there are more questions than answers to the latest Hawaii Reserves, Inc (HRI) proposal in Bill 1. It has not been veted by the community of Laie or at large. Residents-at-large are opposed to sacrificing their quality of life to appease the economic goals of HRI. This include many residents of Laie. If I were the council member-elect, I would engage directly with the residents first, without HRI or its staunch supporter LCA, present.
Laie residents have relevant questions like whether it’s fee simple or leasehold, rental or outright ownership?
Who will be eligible for these homes? Laie or Ko’olauloa region?
What other developments and amenities are in the works not yet revealed and so forth.
Because Mr. Eric Beaver of HRI refused to provide pertinent specifics in writing, who is to say that “affordable housing” could not be cancelled again in the future? It happened in 2008 after HRI raised the hopes and dreams of Laie residents for decades:
“Feasibility estimates pose an unacceptable risk at this time,” Beaver said in the statement. “Cost of the entitlement process, current market and political conditions, moderate community support, and other nearby residential development plans were key factors in our decision to stop the project.
Beaver told The Advertiser yesterday that a combination of factors would have resulted in homes that would cost more than the citizens who were to benefit from it could pay.”
As a matter of public policy, BIll 1 cannot be solely for Envision Laie. Laie is not an island. It has to be ENVISION KO’OLAULOA or even ENVISION NORTH SHORE because Hale’iwa, Pupukea, Sunset Beach, Kahuku, Lai’e, Hau’ula, Punalu’u, Kahana, Ka’a’awa, Kualoa, Wai’ahole, and Kahalu’u are all connected by the same arterial 100-year-old 2-lane country road named “Kamehameha Highway”. The multiplier impacts of this public policy that contradict the existing Oahu General Plan and the Ko’olauloa Sustainable Communities Plan are severe and significant.
Furthermore, may I respectfully urge you to leave a wonderful legacy of protecting the welfare and happiness of our Residents First. My campaign platform of placing a cap on property taxes for local residents who have lived in their homes for 15 years or more is urgently needed. Our senior residents who live on fixed income and social security are afraid of being priced out of house and home. They want to be able to pass on their generational home to their children. This can be done if there is political will. California had their Proposition 13 in 1978. What are we waiting for?
During the course of the campaign, your staff and candidate Heidi Tsuneyoshi also quickly adopted my idea. I consider imitation as the best form of flattery. Certainly, there must be consensus and recognition at this point in time that this is a much-needed action to take to protect our residents. I would be most happy to work with you and all our city council members to begin this process.
I sincerely wish you well in your future endeavors and compliment you for running for the highly-contested race for House of Congress. Please adopt Bill 1 as originally proposed by City Councilman Ikaika Anderson on January 2017 or defer Bill 1 to 2019 for the new city councilwoman-elect Heidi Tsuneyoshi who has stated her opposition to this recent new amendment on her campaign trail.
Choon James has been a successful small businesswoman for 30 years. She’s happily married to her PhD husband for 40 years and mother of four Eagle Scouts and one princess. She has been a long-time community advocate for good government and private property rights. She has also been an activist for Environmental, Social, and Economic Justice. She also works on their family organic farm. She self-financed her recent City Council campaign with no funds from lobbyists or corporations.
Previous elected office, if any: Community Associations
Community organizations/prior offices held
Chair, Defend Oahu Coalition – Keep The Country Country; president, BYU-Hawaii Alumni Association; president, Laie Point Community Association; board member, Laie Community Association; founding member, Kahuku Hospital Board, Save Oahu Farmlands Alliance; member, Honolulu Board of Realtors; producer, Olelo Community Media; member, Hawaii Thousand Friends; member, Sierra Club; member, Ko’olauloa Sustainable Communities Advisory Planning Committee; member, Amnesty International; member, Friends of South Pass City; member, Relief Society Women’s Organization; merit badge counselor, Aloha Council BSA.
If elected, what will be your highest legislative priority?
Many residents have several jobs to keep themselves afloat. Our seniors have to postpone retirement. Kupuna are worried about being priced out of house and home and not being able to pass the family inheritance on to the next generation. Our residents worry when the government is going to slam them with more taxes and fees!
We must protect our home front first! I want to champion and work with the other 8 council members to
~ ~ provide a property tax cap for local homeowners who have lived in their homes for 15 years or more. ( California did Prop 13 in 1978!)
~~ provide incentives to property owners who rent long-term to long term residents.
~~ Focus on increasing truly affordable rentals/homes inventory These foundation improvements will help mitigate some of the challenges we face in Oahu today. It will also protect our residents’ ability to remain in our island home and not be priced out.
Let’s gang up for the public good! I humbly ask for YOUR vote.