The city can now initiate action to claim eight private Kakaako streets that have generated complaints about traffic being blocked by parking spots a company has rented out.

Honolulu City Council members Thursday adopted Resolution 16-213, which allows the city to take the streets in an eminent domain process that could take more than two and a half years to complete.

The resolution covers Curtis, Dreier, Cummins and Ilaniwai streets and portions of Kamakee, Waimanu, Kawaiahao and Queen streets.

Businesses have complained about a portion of Kawaiahao Street, where Kakaako Land Company has charged rent for parking stalls.
Businesses have complained about a portion of Kawaiahao Street, where Kakaako Land Company has charged rent for parking stalls. Noelle Fujii/Civil Beat

Its approval comes after a shortcut was offered by the state Department of the Attorney General. In letters dated Oct. 13 and Oct. 20, the AG’s office offered the city ownership of all the streets, except the portion of Queen Street, which it considers the city to already own.

But pursuing that option would still require a resolution of other claims to ownership of the streets.

Councilwoman Carol Fukunaga, who introduced the resolution, said in an email that she has not received additional information from the Department of Corporation Counsel. Its attorney, Donna Leong, told Civil Beat in October that the city was in the process of reviewing the letters from the AG’s office.

“However, the adoption of Council Resolution 16-213 does not preclude the city and state administrations from coming to an agreement regarding ownership of the designated Kakaako private roads,” Fukunaga wrote. “It authorizes the administration to initiate eminent domain proceedings after conducting due diligence on the particular roads, and would allow both the Corporation Counsel and Attorney General to pursue a faster remedy. The adoption of the resolution provides another tool for City attorneys to use.”

The roads were dedicated to the state by their original owner, Charles Desky, and the Territory of Hawaii accepted them in a joint resolution. The letters from the AG’s office stem from Rep. Scott Saiki’s successful legislative measure that clarified that the Territorial Legislature’s acceptance of this dedication is sufficient to establish that the state owns the streets.

However, since 1985, the roads have been under the ownership of brothers Calvert and Cedric Chun, who executed a quit-claim deed with Desky’s last living heir. Since 1986, they’ve operated under the name of Kakaako Land Company and in recent years have posted “No Parking” signs and charged rent for parking stalls along their roads.

Bob Emami, owner of the Car Store on Kawaiahao Street, said Thursday he was “extremely excited” about the City Council action. “This was a Christmas gift to all businesses and residents in Kakaako.”

He said he hopes the amount of time it will take to actually condemn the streets can be shortened. Residents and business owners have previously complained about the roads being plagued with potholes that do not get filled.

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