The Pacific Alliance to Stop Slavery, represented by local attorney Brian Brazier, filed a petition with the Board of Land and Natural Resources on Monday challenging its approval to lease a parcel of land at Sand Island to the city for an outdoor homeless facility.

The petition, requesting a contested case hearing, challenges the board’s decision to exempt the Sand Island site from an environmental assessment.

Sand Island site where City and County of Honolulu is proposing Housing First Transition Center. September 9, 2104.

The Sand Island site where the City of Honolulu is proposing a Housing First Transition Center.

PF Bentley/Civil Beat

We argue that the city’s failure to conduct, and BLNR’s failure to compel, an environmental assessment violates our and the public’s procedural rights, threatening our capacity to expediently provide necessary services to the population that we serve,” Kathryn Xian, executive director of the Pacific Alliance to Stop Slavery, told Civil Beat in an email. “We further contend that the rights of the population we represent are violated in the same way, and that this population’s health interests may be jeopardized by the city’s negligent and forcible relocation of homeless persons to the Sand Island site.”

In exempting the Sand Island parcel from an environmental assessment, the Board of Land and Natural Resources cited Hawaii administrative rules which allow exemptions in cases where there are only minor alterations to the land, water or vegetation and in cases where there is negligible change in the use of the land.

The Pacific Alliance to Stop slavery argues in its petition that the city’s planned alterations are substantive enough to trigger an environmental assessment.

The city’s plans for a temporary homeless camp include no permanent structures. Rather, the city would bring in portable toilets and showers and homeless would bring their own tents. The city plans to cut down kiawe bushes and pave part of the parcel with asphalt to mitigate potential contamination concerns.

Earlier this month, land board member, Chris Yuen, indicated that such a petition would unlikely be successful during a board meeting in which members approved the lease. He noted that the attorney general’s office has consistently advised that such challenges do not extend to lease requests.

You can read the contested case petition below:

 

About the Author