Board Talk

posted in: Board Talk, September 2014 | 0

Former North Shore Convalescent Home May Soon Shelter Sex Trafficking Victims

It was a difficult choice: Provide a home for a few dozen underage sex trafficking victims or a campus for a new intermediate school for as many as 200 North Shore kids.

In the end, it came down to which organization seemed better prepared.

On July 25, the state Board of Land and Natural Resources unanimously supported a recommendation from the Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Land Division to approve, in concept, a 30-year lease to the non-profit Ho`ola Na Pua, which provides housing and therapy to young people who have escaped the sex trade. The lease would be for nearly 13 acres of agriculturally zoned land in Waiale`e on O`ahu’s North Shore, the site of the 100-year-old, burned-out ruins of the Boys Industrial School and the Crawford convalescent home. The board also approved a right-of-entry to allow the organization to conduct due diligence work.

If and when the Land Board approves the lease, Ho`ola Na Pua will need to conduct an environmental assessment.

North Shore Middle School, which had filed a competing application to use the property, requested a contested case hearing on the matter. The school group and its supporters have complained that North Shore students must attend either Kahuku Intermediate and High School or Waialua Intermediate and High School. Both schools are as much as an hour’s drive away for some students and force kids as young as 12 to attend school with those much older, they told the board. Although the state Board of Education has not yet approved the groups’ second application to establish a charter school, students from the area and their parents testified in favor of its request for the land.

The Land Division noted in a report to the Land Board that the property had been vandalized since its last tenant left last year and needs much repair.

Representatives from the North Shore Middle School estimated it would cost only $80,000 to turn the former convalescent home into a school and said that the community, which includes expert fundraisers, supported their cause.

Ho`ola Na Pua’s developer, on the other hand, told the Land Board that it would cost $2 million to restore the property to meet its needs and that the organization already has financial commitments and foundations lined up to fund the project. She added that Honolulu City Council member Ernie Martin, state legislators and family court judges supported the non-profit.

Jessica Williams, president and founder of Ho`ola Na Pua, told the board that sex trafficking is growing problem for the state, with victims as young as 11 or 12 years old being raped, beaten and forced into a life of abuse.

The state Department of Human Services, the Department of Health, the Department of Education, and family court judges are all struggling with the problem of child trafficking, she said.

“We have no residential facility that will meet their needs. Currently these girls are being locked up in detention facilities or put in foster homes or sent to the mainland. This site allows us to meet a statewide need,” she said.

Hawai`i island Land Board member Stanley Roehrig asked whether Ho`ola Na Pua and the intermediate school could co-exist on the same piece of land.

Williams said that the state Department of Health would allow only one organization to be on site.

Maui Land Board member Jimmy Gomes moved to approve the Land Division’s recommendation to go with Ho`ola Na Pua, which would allow the group to seek more public input on its project.

“It’s not an easy thing for me. Hearing the testimonies from both sides, I’m totally torn,” he said. “This is the only way I think I can see more clarity.”

Board members Roehrig and Chris Yuen were also torn, but supported Gomes’ motion.

“For me, I’m choosing between the desperate and the really desperate,” Roehrig said.

“We only have one facility,” Yuen added. “Had this been brought to the board with either one of them, we would have had a short, easy meeting.” But in the end, he said he thought Ho`ola Na Pua had a more realistic idea of the funding needs.

“It’s very much a concern to me,” he said.

The board unanimously approved the motion, adding that the decision would be stayed pending the outcome of the contested case hearing process.

 

•••
Land Board Rejects
TMT Contested Cases

 

The Land Board has unanimously denied all of the recent contested case hearing requests regarding the University of Hawai`i’s sublease for the Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea.

The board conditionally approved the sublease on June 27, pending the outcome of the contested case hearing requests from various parties, including Dan Purcell, the Flores-Case `Ohana, Mauna Kea Anaina Hou, Paul K. Neves, Clarence Ching, Kealoha Pisciotta, and Harry Fergerstrom.

The Department of the Attorney General advised the Land Board that no due process rights, or statutes or rules required it to grant a contested case to any of them.

At the board’s July 25 meeting, E. Kalani Flores argued that the decision to grant the sublease was “null and void” because former member Rob Pacheco had participated in the vote. Flores argued that Pacheco, who owns the tour company Hawai`i Forest and Trail and has a permit to conduct tours on Mauna Kea, should have recused himself.

“Mr. Pacheco failed to disclose that as owner for Hawai`i Forest and Trail he has an interest and association with UH,” Flores said. “He has an extraordinary relationship with the applicant.”

Flores asked that the Land Board defer deciding on his contested case request until the Department of the Attorney General and the Ethics Commission rendered an opinion on the Pacheco matter.

“There’s inconsistencies of how things are done,” he said. He also noted that the Hawai`i Supreme Court’s decision in the Kilakila `O Haleakala case regarding telescope development on Maui requires the Land Board to deal with contested case hearing requests before taking action on an item.

After an executive session, Hawai`i island member Stanley Roehrig moved to accept the DLNR’s recommendation to deny the contested case hearing requests.

“It’s not for me and my children, but the human race,” Roehrig said.

The board unanimously approved the motion.

 

•••
Another Mokuleia Landowner
Installed an Illegal Revetment

On July 25, the DLNR’s Office of Conservation and Coastal Lands brought yet another enforcement case to the Land Board regarding illegal shoreline hardening during the severe storm swells that devastated North Shore properties in January.

The landowner this time was Sutton family partners, whose properties abut Grand View Apt., Inc.. In April, the OCCL recommended fining Grand View $31,000 for illegal shoreline construction, but the matter was deferred. Grand View’s properties abut a parcel owned by Kathryn and Morris Mitsunaga, whom the board fined $10,500 for illegal shoreline hardening. (See our June 2014 “Board Talk” for more on these cases.)

“This is one in a series of problems we’re experiencing in this area. We picked up this case out visiting others,” OCCL administrator Sam Lemmo told the Land Board of the Sutton case.

Lemmo said the shoreline structures along these properties were heavily damaged by last winter’s storm swells. Like the Mitsunagas and Grand View, “they came in and unilaterally made the decision to armor the area … by adding additional structures, mostly large boulders in this case,” he said.

The DLNR coastal lands program’s job is to protect and preserve the states beaches and the Land Board has adopted a “no tolerance” policy regarding illegal shoreline structures, Lemmo said.

He recommended fining the Sutton family partners $15,000 for illegal construction in the Conservation District and $1,000 in administrative costs, and ordering the removal of the unauthorized materials within 120 days of the Land Board’s decision.

Sutton consultant Laurie Clegg, however, argued to keep the boulders in place and noted that the state Legislature had passed a resolution directing the DLNR to grant an easement to several North Shore landowners whose shoreline structures sit on what is now considered to be state land. What’s more, Clegg asked that the Land Board amend its map for the proposed easement to include what’s there now.

Lemmo, however, pointed out that the Legislature approved only a portion of the Suttons’ seawall and a small rock pile that existed prior to the illegal rock dump last winter.

“In our judgment, they created a much larger rock apron than was contemplated under the easement approved by the board, the Legislature, and approved by the governor,” Lemmo said.

Clegg told the Land Board that nobody could have anticipated last winter’s storm and that what the Suttons did was an emergency action. The waves had caused sinkholes to form behind the seawall, which was starting to lean toward the ocean, she said.

She added that when the Suttons placed the rocks on the beach, they did it to match the footing of the property to the west, creating a more uniform shoreline.

“It wasn’t just an isolated problem. There needs to be a solution … for the whole coastline. … Otherwise, we’re just patching and patching,” she said.

Christopher Moreland, Sutton’s tenant on the property and the one who supervised the construction, described how bad the sink holes and flooding were during the January storm.

To Moreland’s decision to “play cowboy,” Hawai`i island Land Board member Stanley Roehrig said, “If we don’t punish you, the next guy is gonna do the same thing.”

Roerhrig also wanted to ensure that the problem isn’t exacerbated by any order to remove rocks.

Moreland said that if the Suttons were forced to remove what it had installed, the seawall approved by the Land Board and Legislature would fall.

Clegg added that the Suttons do not deny that the work was unauthorized. “We want to know what to do with it,” she said.

At-large member Chris Yuen said he thought the Land Board would have to impose a fine for the construction.

“We’re not saying walk the plank into a pool of piranhas, [but] I have problem with people just doing stuff and then saying it’s not so bad, we did it, can’t we just do it,” he said. “I don’t want it to be much easer than to go dump a bunch a rocks.”

Kaua`i Land Board member Tommy Oi suggested that the area owners work together on a solution.

“Right now, it’s every man is for himself. This isn’t the wild west,” he said.

“I seen homes go into the ocean on Kaua`i. They couldn’t do anything because they couldn’t harden the shorelines like you guys,” he said.

Roehrig seemed to think the state might be responsible for damages if it required the Suttons to remove the encroachment. The board discussed the matter in executive session.

During public testimony, Dan Purcell reminded the Land Board of the public’s loss in these cases.

“I would say in front of these properties there was nice sandy beach. The public had a nice sandy beach,” he said. “As waters started to rise … the public began losing property. [Government agencies] didn’t say, cut your wall back, move your house back. … We’ve lost tangible property. … Now we’ve got a bunch of boulders there. Now the public has been completely cut off.”

“I continue to make the case that Hawaiians cannot walk on water,” he said, adding that he foresaw the need for another legislative fix.

Maui Land Board member Jimmy Gomes moved to accept the OCCL’s recommendations. Oi seconded the motion and Yuen reiterated the need to get a permit before undertaking such construction.

Roehrig, however, said, “I have strong reservations about telling somebody to take the rocks out unless you can get a Superman to put them back if the waves come.” He suggested that since the state has the responsibility for everything below the shoreline, it could face some liability for damages.

Still, he voted with the rest of the board, hoping it would foster an opportunity for area landowners to work with the OCCL to resolve the issue.

“There is a possibility you could mediate a dispute,” he said, but added, “if you keep singing the same song – ‘emergency, emergency – these guys in the state have heard it a million times,” he said.

“If there’s gonna be a beef, they get free lawyers. Nobody quits. They stay there forever,” he said, referring to the state’s attorneys.

The deputy attorney general advising the Land Board noted that in light of the contested case request by the Suttons, the vote would be suspended pending a decision on that request.

 

•••
Ordnance Hazards Keep
`Ahihi-Kina`u NAR Closed

 

The `Ahihi-Kina`u Natural Area Reserve on Maui will remain closed at least until July 2016. On July 25, the Land Board approved a recommendation from the DLNR’s Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) to extend the closure, in effect since 2008, because the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has concluded that the unexploded ordinance (UXO) throughout the reserve poses a serious public safety hazard. The Natural Area Reserves System Commission and the `Ahihi-Kina`u advisory group both support the decision.

The reserve was formerly part of the Kanahena bombing range and was used by the U.S. military for target practice during World War II, a DOFAW report states.

Volume 25, Number 3 September 2014

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