Lessees demand

Residents of the Makiki
Manor threaten to sue City
Councilmembers for delaying the issue

More than two dozen leasehold residents of the Makiki Manor condominium say the City Council is stalling their applications for leasehold conversion.

Their complaint comes as the Council considers a bill aimed at repealing the condominium lease-to-fee conversion law and the residents are worried that their applications could end up dying alongside the law.

City & County of Honolulu

"We have waited patiently for over four months without any action or explanation from the City Council," said Herbert Hamada, one of the residents.

The applications have been pending before the Executive Matters Committee, but Chairman Romy Cachola denies that the Council is trying to prevent the applications from moving forward.

"The Council is not trying to delay. Neither are we taking sides with any of the parties," Cachola said.

Attorneys for the Makiki Manor residents wrote an Aug. 24 letter to the nine members of the Council demanding that Cachola's committee adopt the measure at its scheduled Sept. 9 meeting.

Under the leasehold conversion law, qualified leasehold owner-occupants can gain title to the land under their units by using the city's powers of eminent domain, or condemnation, to force the owners of the fee interest into selling.

Bill 53 would repeal the law, but the repeal would not affect any eminent domain proceedings already authorized by the Council, which is why the Makiki Manor residents want their applications approved before the law goes to into effect.

The letter contends that the "passage of (Bill 53) will prevent our clients from acquiring their leased fee interests" unless the Council authorizes the conversion to proceed.

Hamada has lived in Makiki Manor since 1972, and he said he applied for the conversion so he can be assured a place to live in the future. Without the conversion, "at the end of the lease, I will not have a place to stay," he said.

He and other residents have met all the requirements and if Bill 53 goes into effect before the Council authorizes the condemnation process to begin, "it would invalidate what we're doing," he said.

The bill has already received the first of three approvals from the Council, which voted 7-2 last month to move the measure ahead to committee. The bill could see final approval by Oct. 13.

The letter from attorneys David Nakashima and Lerisa L. Heroldt said that if Cachola's committee doesn't take up and approve the applications by Sept. 9, they will sue all nine members of the Council, both in their official and individual capacities, which means Council members could be held personally liable.

The attorneys say their clients have already been deemed qualified by the city administration to proceed with the condemnation process. The resolution seeking Council approval of the start of the condemnation process was introduced in April and hasn't moved since.

"When we receive this kind of letter ... we have to research," Cachola said. "I believe the letter is not appropriate and warranted and that their action surely is not going to help the process at all."

When asked what he plans to do, Cachola said, "When you receive this kind of letter, you have to be very careful. I am preparing a response. It's just being prudent."

City & County of Honolulu



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