The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation has determined that it overpaid some of the businesses and tenants that were relocated along the rail line by at least $2.3 million.

Krista Lunzer, a consultant with the LTL-Schock Group who works as rail’s latest director of property acquisition and relocation, delivered that total as part of her latest briefing to the board Thursday.

Last month, Lunzer reported that the city and rail agency had also underpaid other parties displaced by the future rail line by some $885,000. Widespread problems with HART’s relocation payments, including missing documents, math errors and “payments without justification,” were first discovered in 2017 and made public in 2018.

HART rail guideway construction near Middle Street and Dillingham.
Rail construction has reached Middle Street. HART previously made numerous errors in its relocation payments for those displaced. It had to take corrective actions and report those to the FTA. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2022

The overpayments were HART’s responsibility and the agency won’t be pursuing reimbursement, Lunzer said. It will, however, apply the overpaid amount to any future relocation claims, she added.

HART board member Anthony Aalto called the situation, which affected relocation payments through 2016, “egregious” and asked whether any staff members involved were still at HART.

“Whoever was responsible shouldn’t be working for us anymore,” Aalto said. HART has never specified who, exactly, was responsible for the shoddy relocation payments. The board contemplated discussing the matter in closed session citing personnel issues in case any specific names were mentioned.

Aalto said it wouldn’t be necessary to name those responsible in public, and HART Executive Director Lori Kahikina assured him that all those involved have left the agency.

Last month, Lunzer told the board that HART had submitted its final report on its corrective actions on the relocation payments to the Federal Transit Administration on May 2.

The local rail agency has refused to provide a copy of that final report.

Such relocation overpayments were also the focus of a grand jury subpoena delivered to HART in early 2019.

An Important Note

If you consider nonprofit, independent news to be an essential service that helps keep our community informed, please include Civil Beat among your year-end contributions.

And for those who can, consider supporting us with a monthly gift, which helps keep our content free for those who need it most.

This year, we are making it our goal to raise $225,000 in reader support by December 31, to support our news coverage statewide and throughout the Pacific. Are you ready to help us continue this work?

About the Author