Local 5 files
suit to block
Hilton tower

Both the city and the
hotel giant are named
in the legal action

By Tim Ruel

Hotel workers union Local 5 is so opposed to Hilton Hawaiian Village's proposed $80 million Waikikian Tower that it has sued Hilton and the city to block the development.

The Hotel Employees & Restaurant Employees union sued Thursday in First Circuit Court. The union alleges that Hilton received a planned development resort permit for the project in an arbitrary and vague process. The city can exempt a project from density, height, open space and other zoning controls and requirements, so long as the project benefits the community and Waikiki. The council approved the permit Aug. 7.

Local 5 members, who are negotiating a new contract with Hilton, repeatedly testified against the construction during the approval process.

In the suit, Local 5 said there are no specific standards for deciding if a project will benefit the area.

Local 5 also alleges that:

>> Hilton should have received a type of conditional use permit to be able to develop on multiple lots in the Waikiki Special District.

>> The city violated provisions of the planned development resort permit because the particular lots are too small and have different ownership, when they should have single ownership.

>> The city did not require enough off-street parking as specified by a land use ordinance.

>> The city did not get state approval for potential effects of construction on the Hilton Hawaiian Village lagoon, which is within a state conservation district. "The project will have adverse impacts on the HHV lagoon, including but not limited to the deposit of runoff, residue, debris and other materials in the lagoon," the suit said.

To justify the suit, Local 5 said that it has 1,450 workers at Hilton Hawaiian Village and 980 workers in the area of the project who will be adversely affected by it.

Local 5 also used the lawsuit as an opportunity to point out that Hilton has not discovered the cause of mold in its newly built Kalia Tower. The union has said Hilton should figure out the problem before building the 350-unit 35-story Waikikian Tower.

Carol Costa, a city spokeswoman, did not respond to a request for comment. A Hilton Hawaiian Village spokeswoman could not be reached for comment.

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