Tuesday, January 29, 2002

Legislature 2002

Gov’s bill could halt
condemnation of land
for Outrigger

The city voted Jan. 9 to condemn
4 sites for Outrigger to redevelop

By Bruce Dunford
Associated Press

Gov. Ben Cayetano is moving to block the city's attempt to condemn private property to clear the way for the Outrigger hotel chain's $300 million plan to redevelop and expand its Waikiki properties.

The City Council's Policy Committee voted Jan. 9 to condemn and acquire four private parcels to be leased to Outrigger Enterprises, allowing it to redevelop nearly eight acres in the heart of the resort area.

A bill Cayetano has submitted to the Legislature would limit the counties' condemnation powers to acquire private property for public purposes and uses defined specifically in state law.

While the city's proposed condemnation on behalf of Outrigger "arguably may provide some public benefits, it appears that Outrigger would reap tremendous private benefits," said the governor's message to lawmakers.

The governor recently observed in a talk with reporters that the Democratic Party used to protect the little guy against the powerful interests. He said that political philosophy appears to be reversed in the Outrigger case.

Cayetano noted to lawmakers that the state's Land Reform Act, which was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, shows that condemnations resulting in the transfer of property from one private individual to another are not necessarily invalid.

"However, if the claimed public purpose is merely a cloak for an ulterior private use, there is no public use, and such an acquisition would likely be deemed an improper exercise of eminent-domain power," the governor said.

The condemnation measure is scheduled for a vote by the City Council on Wednesday with final approval scheduled for Feb. 20.

Voting against the condemnation measure before the Policy Committee were Duke Bainum, John DeSoto and Steve Holmes. Councilman John Henry Felix said he might change his vote, which favored the measure.

The original proposal was to condemn five properties in the Lewers Street-Saratoga Road area, but one landowner agreed to sell the land to Outrigger.

Outrigger Senior Vice President Mel Kaneshige told the Council it would be nearly impossible to get financing for the redevelopment project without the company owning all the land outright.

Legislature Directory

Legislature Bills & Hawaii Revised Statutes

Testimony by email:
Include in the email the committee name; bill number;
date, time and place of the hearing; and number of copies
(as listed on the hearing notice.) For more information,
or call 587-0478.

E-mail to City Desk

Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]

© 2002 Honolulu Star-Bulletin