For about the last year and a half, Ka`anapali Tours, LLC (KTL), which owns the 65-foot luxury catamaran, has been fighting in federal court for the right to operate the vessel along Maui’s Ka`anapali coast.
In September 2011, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation prevented the company from sailing Queen’s Treasure under its one-of-a-kind permit that purported to allow the use of either a monohull or a multihull vessel.
DOBOR argued that the permit should never have been granted because its rules for Ka`anapali don’t allow for such a permit. What’s more, the rules require catamaran permittees to be selected from a waiting list (and KTL was not at the top of that list when it acquired its permit).
KTL sued in U.S. District Court and lost. Although the company’s monohull/multihull permit expired last year, KTL appealed to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
However, in May, attorneys for KTL and the state filed a motion asking that the case be dismissed with prejudice. According to DOBOR administrator Ed Underwood, KTL recently entered into an agreement with the owner of Fun Charters, Inc., which has a valid catamaran permit for Ka`anapali. Essentially, Fun Charters is leasing Queen’s Treasure from KTL, he says. He added that KTL’s owner is still on the wait list for a permit.
For more on this, read our February 2012 cover story and our March 2012 and February 2013 New & Noteworthy items, all available at http://www.environment-hawaii.org
Albizia Update: The county of Hawai`i is suing a family that owns land in Hilo over its failure to trim back an albizia tree that is hanging over Punahele Street, just a few blocks from downtown Hilo. The huge, heavy limbs create “a known hazard to motorists, pedestrians, residents and users of Punahele Street,” the county’s complaint states.
The county’s Department of Public Works first attempted to get the landowners – heirs of Harold Spencer – to remove the tree last September, when it issued a notice of violation and order that required removal of the hazard by November 6. An identical NOV was issued November 21, demanding corrective action be taken by January 21. On January 29, yet a third NOV was issued, with corrective action to be made by March 4. All three NOVs indicated that fines of $1,000 a day would be imposed if the deadline were not met.
The county’s complaint asks for damages of $1,000 a day, starting only on March 4. By June 25, when the complaint was lodged with the court, the fines would have amounted to $113,000. The county is also seeking to recover its attorneys’ fees, interest, and other costs.
Even if the county prevails in court, its ability to collect damages from the owners is not a sure thing. Property tax records show they last paid taxes in 2011.
TAUs Are Tossed: Federal Judge Leslie Kobayashi has ruled that a Kaua`i law limiting construction of new transient accommodation units (TAUs) is invalid. In doing so, she agreed with the argument of Kaua`i Beach Villas—Phase II that the law, the result of a ballot referendum, was in conflict with the Hawai`i Supreme Court’s decision in Kaiser Hawai`i Kai Development Co. v. City & County of Honolulu, better known as the Sandy Beach case.
Environment Hawai`i published details of the lawsuit in our October 2012 issue. For more information and to see the judge’s decision, see the EH-Xtra item on our website, http://www.environment-hawaii.org