Wednesday, December 7, 2005

Meeting of the
Honolulu City Council


December 7, 2005; Honolulu Hale (City Hall)
Honolulu, Hawai'i

In a historic reversal, the Honolulu City Council today cast a unanimous 9-0 vote in favor of the future of Waimea Valley as a complete, undivided ahupua'a. They also voted in favor of an open, transparent court procedure to determine a fair, final price for purchase of the Valley.

The Council will immediate start to build partnerships immediately, with key supporters who testified today: the State Legislature, the National Audubon Society, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and others.

These web pages will carry much more detail, including many news reports, interviews, television stories, photographs and personal accounts.

The process is not complete, but it is on sound footing. There may be a trial in February that requires further public support. The Stewards of Waimea will continue to do our part, in service to the Valley.

Watch this space.

See the front page of the Honolulu Advertiser,
December 8, 2005

Jim Case
Carlsmith Ball LLP
Attorneys at Law, Honolulu, HI
December 7, 2005

The Honorable Donovan Dela Cruz, Chair
and Members of the City Council
Honolulu Hale
Honolulu, Hawaii 96813

Re: Testimony in Opposition to Proposal to Settle Condemnation Lawsuit Entitled City and County of Honolulu v. Attractions Hawaii, et. al.

Dear Chairman Dela Cruz and Members of the Council:

I am testifying against the recommendation by the Committee of the Whole that the City and County of Honolulu settle the condemnation lawsuit entitled City and County of Honolulu v. Attractions Hawaii et al.

I am writing this letter on behalf of The Stewards of Waimea Valley, a group of very concerned citizens and organizations on the North Shore who believe that the City and County of Honolulu ( (the "City") should not settle this condemnation lawsuit, but instead should proceed to trial with all deliberate speed.

The condemnation suit was brought for the purpose of preserving for this and future generations the entire ahupuaa of Waimea Valley. This was the intent of the City Council in 2001, and should remain the overriding objective of the City Council today.

The City is already in possession of the land; the only issue left for decision is the price which the City should pay the Landowner for the property. According to the condemnation law (Hawaii Revised Statutes Section 101-24), this price is the value of the property on the date on which the condemnation suit was filed in 2001. It is irrelevant that property values may have increased since the date the suit was filed; it doesn't matter.

click here
to see the full text of this important letter

Stewards of Waimea
Letter and Testimony to Honolulu City Council
December 7, 2005

Re: Proposed Settlement – Waimea Valley
Special Council Meeting on December 7, 2005

Dear Honorable Members of the City Council:

Ua mau ke ea o ka aina i ka pono.
“The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness.”

The state motto defines the fundamental duty of every public servant of the Islands, and we call upon you today to give this wisdom true meaning by acting to protect in perpetuity the entire ahupua`a of Waimea. Four years ago, in December 2001, the City Council had the foresight to unite behind this important principle when it took legal action to acquire the entirety of Waimea Valley for the public. Today, the Council should stand by that promise and make that vision a reality.

We strongly urge you to reject the proposed settlement proposed by Attractions Hawai’i. The settlement would allow Attractions Hawai`i, the prior owner, to re-acquire 1,500 of 1,800 acres of the Valley and, apparently with the City’s acquiescence, to obtain City and State permits for multiple private homes and commercial uses. The proposed secret settlement is deeply offensive to the community, which has worked so hard for many years, successfully in partnership with the City and the Audubon Society, to put Waimea into public hands, in perpetuity.

We urge you to demonstrate publicly your true commitment to saving Waimea Valley by voting unanimously against the secret proposal crafted by Attractions Hawai`i and instead commit the City to an open process that removes the prior private owner from any future scenario for the Valley. The City should move quickly toward a final judgment. We are confident the jury will establish a fair value for the Valley, which has long been zoned – in its entirety – as State Conservation/Preservation Lands, and therefore is now highly protected by law. That highly protected status would be shattered by the settlement.

The ahupua`a of Waimea is a sacred place. The ahupua`a has a long-term association with the Hawaiian religious leaders (for forty generations), and is affiliated with Kamapua'a and the Paoa lineage. Its makai portion is flanked by two important heiau – Pu`u O Mahuka (the largest heiau on O`ahu) and Kupopolo Heiau. The valley itself has powerful spiritual and cultural values, including more than 33 known cultural features, such as burials, heiau, and agricultural sites, with perhaps hundreds more waiting to be discovered, according to a recent archeological study. There are at least 78 surface cultural features in the valley and many more yet-to-be-discovered sites both above and below ground. In addition, the former presence of Fujita Camp makes the valley important to the Japanese community and emphasizes that Waimea has a rich multi-cultural history.

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to read this letter in full