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Hawaii Supreme Court will hear Kyo-ya Tower case

By Allison Schaefers

LAST UPDATED: 06:13 p.m. HST, Jun 03, 2014

A lengthy environmental battle over a planned oceanfront hotel and condominium tower next to the Moana Surfrider Hotel in Waikiki is moving to the Hawaii Supreme Court. 

Kyo-ya Hotels & Resorts received a zoning variance from the city Department of Planning and Permitting on Dec. 1, 2010, to position its tower within ground- and airspace-setback areas prohibited under zoning rules. Four environmental advocacy groups and Michelle Spalding Matson, who objected to the variance, appealed to the city's Zoning Board of Appeal, which ruled for the city in February 2013. 

The hui appealed again, but in October 2013 the state Circuit Court upheld the ruling from the zoning board of appeals. In April, the hui requested that the Intermediate Court of Appeals transfer the case to the Hawaii Supreme Court. On May 15, the state Supreme Court said it would consider the four-year legal challenge. 

"We are glad the Supreme Court has decided to hear the case," said Linda Paul, attorney for the hui, which includes Hawaii's Thousand Friends, the Surfrider Foundation, KAHEA -- the Hawaiian-Environmental Alliance, and the Ka Iwi Coalition. "It's a case that asks an important and fundamental question: Does the Mayor -- or his agents -- have unlimited power to grant exemptions of any magnitude from any ordinance?" 

Paul said she expects the court will rule later this year. The city, Kyo-ya and Starwood were not readily available to comment.

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Kaimukirat wrote:
God save us! The Hawaii Supreme Court thinks it's the legislature and the governor and the judiciary all rolled together. Anything is possible. Remember the Super Ferry?
on June 3,2014 | 01:30PM
HD36 wrote:
I believe Hawaii is the only state where the governor appoints the members of the State Supreme Court.
on June 3,2014 | 03:56PM
MalamaKaAina wrote:
“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's needs, but not every man's greed.” ― Mahatma Gandhi
on June 3,2014 | 02:11PM
HiNaihe808 wrote:
OMG!!!!! Mufi the mayor is baaaaaaack! The developers control this frickin island.
on June 3,2014 | 11:41PM
Tony91 wrote:
isn't this a dead issue anyway? Kyo-ya new owners decided to pull the plug on the Princess Kaiulani project, wouldn't this die with it?
on June 3,2014 | 03:23PM
EducatedLocalBoy wrote:
Just like plaintiff Michelle Spaulding Matson, who in a prior environmental proceeding identified herself to be a rich Kamaaina Ha0LE who lives on the side of Diamond Head crater and has an unobstructed view of the ocean, in the middle 50s I grew up in mauka Manoa with my parents' house having an unobstructed view of the ocean because there were no high rise buildings at that time in Honolulu. However, unlike plaintiff Matson, my parents' unobstructed view of the ocean was blocked by the high rises that were built beginning in the early 60s to sell units a piece of the tourist marketed "paradise" (Joni Mitchell was right when she sung "the paved paradise they put up a parking lot"). By the late 60s the view from street level Kalakaua Ave. of plaintiff Matson's Diamond Head was totally blocked by high rises that were built to house the "environmentalists" who are the rest of the plaintiffs. Remember Ms. Matson's ancestors built the Royal Hawaiian Hotel as a tourist stop for the rich tourists who traveled to Waikiki Beach for a vacation on Matson ships. It is the height of hypocritical NIMBY'ism (Not in my back yard-ism) for these "environmentalists" to argue, in essence, that now that they have their unobstructed view of the ocean from their high rises, that the new hotels and condos will be visual pollution, i.e. block their view of the ocean like they blocked my parents' view of the ocean.
on June 3,2014 | 03:23PM
HD36 wrote:
Good point. Just reading the article gave me the impression that Matson simply wanted to save the environment for all. Under the guise of environmentalism for the good of all, they push their own agenda.
on June 3,2014 | 04:02PM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
Okay so if the Hawaii Supreme Court does not satisfy the people involved, then let's bring up the case to the USA Supreme Court. Then if a satisfactory answer is not given, then let ...... Oh well. Lawyers are the _____ of the Earth.
on June 3,2014 | 03:43PM
mcc wrote:
Why have laws if everyone gets variances? Do developers "pay" for variances?
on June 3,2014 | 04:33PM
saywhatyouthink wrote:
Silly question .. of course although it's normally called campaign donations.
on June 3,2014 | 05:22PM
islandsun wrote:
The underlying issue is whether the Mayor can continue to prostitute variances to the highest bidders.
on June 3,2014 | 04:34PM
MrMililani wrote:
How many more buildings can they squeeze into Waikiki? Between the homeless and the high rises, it's no surprise that the tourists aren't coming.
on June 3,2014 | 04:49PM
iwanaknow wrote:
As long as we have Waikiki, people will come.
on June 3,2014 | 05:19PM
saywhatyouthink wrote:
There's no stopping the development, they will rule for the city. The unions, developers and monopoly business owners run this state. They tell the politicians what they want ... and they always get what they want. Neil will fix this for them, that's what he does.
on June 3,2014 | 05:20PM
NoFire wrote:
Maybe the Mayor can get the Supreme Court to have Kyo-ya build a few floors there for the homeless to live in too.
on June 3,2014 | 05:59PM
A_Reader wrote:
"Power to grant exemptions of any magnitude from any ordinance?"....for the ultra-rich and big corporation yeah...No for the average and poor.
on June 3,2014 | 06:01PM
HiNaihe808 wrote:
That's a good question: "It's a case that asks an important and fundamental question: Does the Mayor -- or his agents -- have unlimited power to grant exemptions of any magnitude from any ordinance?" No one is above the laws in the books. No exemptions and no exemptions. Hawaii is getting out of control.
on June 3,2014 | 11:40PM
surfandthink wrote:
It's an obscene variance; it also creates a terrible precedent. Hopefully, the Supreme Court can still save what's left of Waikiki Beach. Kudos to the Surfrider Foundation and the environmentalist groups for fighting the good war.
on June 3,2014 | 11:47PM
Uncleart66 wrote:
Best Mayor money can buy.
on June 4,2014 | 03:22AM
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