By Susan Halas
Mix a down economy, add a disputed land claim between native Hawaiians and a highly visible Hawaii developer, let it simmer on the back burner for more than three years. What results is a thriving shanty town with dozens of dwellings and other structures built without permits and an illegal junk yard.
The disputed parcel consists of approximately 34 acres on the banks of the Iao Stream across from the Millyard, with an assessed value of $1.18 million. About a quarter of the property is covered with shacks and junk.
Claiming ownership is Sandra Aki of Wailuku who recorded a deed on Sept. 20th of this year.
However, according to Supervising Real Property Clerk Melvina Kanaha at the county’s Real Property Division, the county does not recognize that claim because Aki has so far not been able to show where her interest originates. Instead the county’s files show Kehalani Holding Company Inc., a subsidiary of Stanford Carr Development, as property owner of record since 2006. The property is home to a flourishing village, complete with ocean and mountain views consisting of many shacks, animal pens and a wide variety of accumulated trash, junk vehicles and other debris.
Whoever owns the property, just across the Iao Stream, is facing millions of dollars in fines for two separate violations. One for building without permits and the other for violation of sanitation codes issued by Maui County’s Development Services Administration on Feb. 12, 2008.
Development Services Administrator Ralph Nagamine provided copies of the Notices of Violation. Each called for an initial civil fine in the amount of $500 due by Sept. 22, 2008, and $100 per day for each violation until that same date. The fine schedule then doubles every 30 days until it reaches a maximum $1,000 a day for each violation until the violations are corrected.
Since the violations have not been corrected the fines could currently total in excess of $2 million.
Asked the present status of the matter, Nagamine said that to his knowledge “our lawyers are talking to their lawyers,” and so far no money has changed hands nor have any of the violations been corrected. County Corporation Counsel Patrick Wong confirmed yesterday that the county has taken the matter to Circuit Court where litigation is now pending, but was unable provide details.
Sandra Aki, contacted this morning at her home in Wailuku asserted her legal ownership of the property, and declined to say anything further, stating “You’ll find out about it when we go to court. I’m not worried.”
A resident of the property who spoke with Maui Now yesterday said that people living on the site were all of native Hawaiian ancestry, and that members of their group had been residing on the property for at least six years.
A representative of the Maui branch of the state Department of Health confirmed that District Administrator Lorrin Pang had visited the site on Monday Nov. 27. Dr. Pang was not available for comment.
Rod Antone, spokesperson for the mayor’s office, said that he was not aware of the situation, however another member of the administration who asked to remain anonymous said that Mayor Arakawa and Carr were working to resolve the situation, but due to the land dispute and the need for a court order to begin eviction proceedings that it could be a very lengthy process.
Stanford Carr did not return calls from Maui Now. His company Kehalani Holding Co., Inc. is represented by attorney Martin Luna, of the firm Carlsmith Ball LLC in Wailuku. Luna’s secretary said he was out of the office until Dec. 12.
Google Earth photos of the site taken from the air in 2000 do not show any non-permitted dwellings, buildings or the large accumulation of debris that is presently there.
Click to enlarge photos.