8 private Kakaako roads subject to new standards law
For years, disputes over conditions and parking on private roads in Kakaako have frustrated the community and small businesses, and several attempts by the government to intervene have met setbacks.
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For years, disputes over conditions and parking on private roads in Kakaako have frustrated the community and small businesses, and several attempts by
the government to intervene have met setbacks.
Now, it appears the rubber has met the road.
A bill signed into law by Gov. David Ige on Tuesday aims to make the owners of the roads responsible for
upgrading the thoroughfares to meet city standards — something that could prove to be very costly — or quit charging for parking.
House Speaker Scott Saiki, who represents the Kakaako area and introduced the bill, said in a statement that he wants the law enforced quickly for the safety of
pedestrians and drivers.
Saiki said he expects
the Hawaii Community Development Authority, a state agency that regulates development in the area, to enforce the law along with the courts.
HCDA, however, previously said it’s not sure how it would handle enforcement.
House Bill 2275, which became Act 9, requires owners of private roads in Kakaako to ensure — at their own expense — that the roads conform to city construction and maintenance standards if they charge a fee for any portion of the roadway and
if the road has been used continuously by the public for at least six months.
City standards cover road width, drainage, sidewalks, underground utilities and other things that could make compliance cost-prohibitive for a private owner. Even the city, which has roads in
Kakaako that don’t comply with its own standards, objected to an earlier version of the bill that would have forced it to comply. Representatives of other private landowners also opposed the bill before several amendments were made.
Observers believe the new law applies only to
Kakaako Land Co., which owns eight streets and has frustrated small-business owners by charging for parking in front of their establishments.
Calvert Chun, who operates Kakaako Land with brother Cedric, declined comment last month on
the bill but in February called it “legally questionable and unproductive” in written testimony.
Kakaako Land claims to have bought whole or partial segments of Queen, Kawaiahao, Ilaniwai, Waimanu, Curtis, Dreier, Cummins and Kamakee streets in 1985 from the last heir of a man who subdivided parts of
Kakaako more than 100 years ago.
In 2010, the company started charging people $100 or more for parking after putting up signs and painting stalls on streets. In some cases, Kakaako Land established parking where the city had prohibited it. The company also began charging for parking that small businesses had long reserved for their own customers. Seven Kakaako businesses sued Kakaako Land in 2014 over the street ownership claim. That case has yet to go to trial.
Lawmakers tried to help in 2016 by creating a law that declared a 1903 Territory of Hawaii resolution that expressed intent to accept ownership of the streets as a retroactive conveyance of the property to the state. This law didn’t produce intended results.
Last year the Legislature established by law a disputed-road resolution process, but it doesn’t
appear to apply to
Kakaako Land roads. That process was created to succeed a 2016 law calling for the formation of a disputed-roads commission that was never created.
The city is also doing assessment work to possibly condemn Kakaako Land roads, but that effort could take another two years.