Council OKs Kuapa
Isle condemnation

By Gordon Y.K. Pang

The city can now go ahead with condemnation actions against Kamehameha Schools on behalf of lessees of the Kuapa Isle condominium project in Hawaii Kai for a second time.

The City Council voted 8-1 yesterday to use its eminent-domain powers against the landowner in a forced leased-to-fee action.

Council Chairman John DeSoto cast the sole dissenting vote.

The Council previously voted to condemn the land under Kuapa Isle, but Circuit Judge Sabrina McKenna dismissed the action when she ruled that the city's rules were flawed.

The city was forced to change the rules so that the designation of units is finalized right before the condemnation resolution is submitted to the Council.

Kuapa Isle was the first apartment-condominium to go through mandatory lease-to-fee conversion.

Other properties in the hopper were held up by McKenna's ruling but cleared the process after the city amended its rules.

About 31 of the 234 residential units in the Hawaii Kai complex are affected by yesterday's action.

Sydney Keliipuleole, residential asset director for Kamehameha Schools, testified that it is wrong for the city to use its condemnation powers to force landowners to sell their interests to other private parties.

He said about 70 lessees have been able to reach agreements with the landowner voluntarily, and he is currently "reassessing" its offer prices.

But Richard Elwell, a Kuapa Isle leaseholder, said that rather than stealing land, the lessees simply want to "get a reasonable price established by the courts."

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