Lessees lose their
request to U.S. judge

A federal judge has declined to force the city to process applications for condominium lease-to-fee conversions.

In February the city repealed the leasehold conversion ordinance which allowed the city to condemn the land and turn over the fee interests to the eligible unit owners. But the repeal prevents any leasehold conversion application not already approved by the City Council from proceeding.

The lessees of Kahala Beach Apartments and Discovery Bay Condominium, which had pending applications, filed suit saying the city broke its contract with leasehold conversion applicants by not carrying out the process. They asked that the conversion process continue while the lawsuit proceeds.

But city attorneys have argued in part that a contract cannot limit the city's condemnation powers.

U.S. District Judge David Ezra said yesterday that he decided not to grant the motion for a preliminary injunction to block the repeal because the facts will not change while the case is pending. "There is nothing that's going to happen immediately," Ezra said.

But Ezra also told both sides that he wants to move the case forward, and asked each side to file papers telling him why by law he should summarily decide the case for their respective sides.

"I'm going to try to get this out as quickly as I can," Ezra said.

He scheduled a hearing for June 22.

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