Monday, December 6, 1999

City & County of Honolulu

Barbers Point
street names will
be unchanged

A city attorney says the law
doesn't require changing them
to Hawaiian words

By Mary Adamski


City attorneys say the law does not require that street names at Kalaeloa must be changed to Hawaiian words.

About 50 streets with names that memorialize World War II battles and heroes came under city control with the transfer last summer of 2,100 acres of the former Barbers Point Naval Air Station.

The controversial issue of making the street names comply with a 1979 ordinance mandating Hawaiian words arose earlier this year before the Kalaeloa Redevelopment Commission, which has overseen the transition from military to civilian control.

"They are entitled to recognition as existing street names which are not required to be altered due to a change in ownership," said deputy corporation counsel Jane Howell. Her Nov. 29 opinion was addressed to Jan Sullivan, director of the city Department of Planning and Permitting.

The commission didn't initiate the idea of changing names, said member Maeda Timson, also chairwoman of the Makakilo/Kapolei/Honokai Hale Neighborhood Board. She said the Kalaeloa oversight commission was complying with instructions from the Planning Department.

"The commission was following what we were told," Timson said last week. "A letter to (Kalaeloa commission executive director) Bill Bass said they must be changed because they are being changed to the city. Sullivan and her group owe us a clarification and an apology."

The prospect of removing names such as Coral Sea, Essex and Franklin D. Roosevelt aroused angry response from veterans and patriotic organizations.

"It wasn't a controversy
the community started."

Maeda Timson


Meanwhile, a committee including Hawaiian representatives and scholars began researching Hawaiian names that reflect the west Oahu area's own history.

"It wasn't a controversy the community started," Timson said.

"We did not intend to change the law. We never meant to pit one group against the other, neighbor against neighbor, friend against friend," Timson said.

Howell's decision, endorsed by Corporation Counsel David Arakawa, indicates that issue hinged on a misunderstanding that the base roads did not qualify for "existing street" status because the city file of street names does not include them.

Not so, said Howell, who found the former military base roads were named through proper federal government procedures and that a change in ownership did not require renaming.

"Existing officially recognized street names have been permitted to continue despite lack of compliance with later-adopted requirements such as the one for Hawaiian names only," Howell said in her opinion.

She noted that when the ordinance was changed in 1979 to require streets to be given Hawaiian names, there was no wholesale renaming of non-conforming names such as King, Queen, Merchant, Richards, Bishop and Ward.

A more recent precedent occurred when Ewa streets such as Tenney, Orrick and Burke, formerly belonging to Oahu Sugar Co., were turned over to the city but kept their names.

"This was clearly because those administering the street names ordinance did not consider such a change to be a legal requirement," the opinion says. Earl Arakaki of the Ewa/Ewa Beach/West Loch Neighborhood Board, raised the example in a letter to Arakawa, saying, "I am opposed to any renaming of streets."

"It seemed a waste of taxpayer money to come up with new names and put up new signs for streets that already had names and signs," said state Rep. Mark Moses (R - Makakilo, Kapolei, Ewa).

"This interpretation is also good news for all veterans," Moses said in a release. "Discarding these names insults the memory of all who have served.

"Many veterans from Hawaii participated in these battles and served on these ships."

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