Honolulans Fight Sale of Parkland

     HONOLULU (CN) – Taxpayers claim in court that Honolulu is trying to sell public park land to a developer without an environmental assessment or proper permit.
     Click here to check out Courthouse News’ Environmental Law Review.
     Brian Amona and Gabriel Kahaulelio sued the City and County of Honolulu’s Department of Budget and Fiscal Services, its Department of Parks and Recreation and the developer/potential buyer the Basin Project, in Oahu First Circuit Court.
     This is the second citizens’ lawsuit in a month contesting the sale of North Shore land 3 miles south of some of the world’s most renowned surfing spots.
     The first complaint claimed, perhaps mistakenly, that the city was trying to sell the larger, oceanfront Hale’iwa Beach Park. The city told Courthouse News in July that it wants to sell Hale’iwa Regional Park, instead, which is across the street.
     The 3.3-acre Hale’iwa Regional Parkcontains 1.5 acres “clear, level, open-parking and lawn area that has been used for the past thirty years by a variety of individuals, groups and recreationalists,” the complaint states.
     Plaintiffs Amona and Kahauelelio say that they maintain the land, which is part of the city’s “Adopt-a-Park Program.” They call it an “underhanded attempt to sell prime public park lands to a private developer.”
     They seek declaratory judgment that the land is not “excess property” and cannot be sold without a Special Management Area (SMA) permit.
     They also claim that state law requires an environmental assessment be done before any “actions proposing the use of state or county lands.”
     Defendant Michael Hansen, director of Honolulu’s Department of Budget and Fiscal Services, told Courthouse News in July that “the city has determined that an SMA permit is not required for the city’s disposition of the vacant lands.”
     The plaintiffs are represented by David Kimo Frankel and Ashley K. Obrey, with the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation.

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