State Supreme Court agrees to decide case challenging city approval of controversial Waikiki beach tower
News Release from Hawaii’s Thousand Friends June 3, 2014
On Thursday, May 15, the Hawaii Supreme Court announced it would consider the four-year legal challenge waged by a hui of environmental groups against the City and County of Honolulu for a 2010 variance granted to Kyo-ya Hotels and Resorts for a 26-story hotel/condo tower on Waikiki beach. The proposed tower, to be located on a small, oceanfront lot between the historic Moana Hotel and city-owned Kuhio Beach Park, would exceed the Waikiki Special District’s beachfront height and setback laws, established in 1976, by 74.3 percent.
Plaintiffs/appellants include Hawaii’s Thousand Friends, the Surfrider Foundation, KAHEA — the Hawaiian-Environmental Alliance, and the Ka Iwi Coalition. Both the city and Kyo-ya are defendants/appellees in the case.
Background: In December 2010 the environmental hui, which included individual petitioner Michelle Matson formed to appeal the variance decision, made by the city’s Department of Planning and Permitting Director, to the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA). Over two years later, the ZBA ruled for the city and against the hui in February 2013. The hui appealed to the Circuit Court of Appeals, which upheld the ZBA’s ruling in October, 2013. The hui filed an appeal with the Intermediate Court of Appeals and requested a transfer of the case to the Hawaii Supreme Court in April 2014.
“We are glad the Supreme Court has decided to hear the case,” said Linda Paul, attorney for the hui. “It’s a case that asks an important and fundamental question: Does the Mayor — or his agents — have unlimited power to grant exemptions of any magnitude from any ordinance?"
Paul says she expects the Court will render its decision later this year.
SA: Hawaii Supreme Court to tackle Kyo-ya tower dispute