On June 5th, 2013 the Petitioners withdrew their Appeal against the Decision by Mr. George Atta, Director of the Department of Planning and Permitting (DPP), to approve the 2121 Kuhio Avenue “Diamond Head-Ewa” building orientation which parallels the coastline.
This withdrawal means that Waikiki residents and the public no longer have any standing with regard to the Special District Design major permit approval process. This process will now be concluded solely between the Developer and the DPP.
The arguments set out in the Petitioner’s Appeal statement remain on the record. Our research of the law and other DPP decisions (including major towers like the Waikiki Allure, The Watermark, Hilton Grand Waikikian, Hilton Hawaiian Village and The Trump Tower) in preparation for the Zoning Board of Appeals had appeared to confirm the validity of the Petitioners’ claims. For example, the DPP required the Hilton Grand Waikikian tower to be rotated 90 degrees to comply with the WSD Guidelines for mauka-makai orientation.
Nonetheless, the Petitioners had to take into account many factors in deciding whether to proceed to Appeal. In simple terms, they had to assess the risks versus rewards of continuing on.
No matter how strong or weak the Petitioners’ arguments would have been during the Appeal, the determination was made that the resources available from individual Kama’aina (both time and money) could not possibly have matched those of the Developer.
It should be noted that based on a listing sheet provided to Realtors, the project with all ocean facing units will generate over $440M in gross revenues (excluding Penthouses), set against building construction and land costs of less than $200M.
Another factor in our decision to withdraw was that while a development company can benefit from the protection of its corporate veil in litigation, this advantage is not available for individuals, who are thereby exposing themselves to potentially unlimited and untenable personal financial risk.
Regarding the way forward, – the Developer still has to comply with the DPP Decision’s various conditions. However, the public can now only observe, rather than provide input to the building design outcomes.
Over the past year, we have contributed our efforts and testimonies to the planning process in the belief that the DPP would seek to preserve Waikiki’s scenic resources and natural ventilation consistent with the original intent of the LUO and WSD Guidelines, which are re-inforced through Bill 52 – Amendment to the LUO.
It is clear that Mr. George Atta of the the DPP could have acted to mitigate the apparent mass of the building either through a building re-orientation or by a reduction in its length, as recommended by so many parties to the proceedings, but appears to have chosen not to do so.
The Petitioners would like to sincerely thank all those who helped over the past year in respect of the enormous amount of research, testimony preparation, letters and oral testimonies. We particularly want to acknowledge the support of the Waikiki Neighborhood Board, the Waikiki Area Residents Association, and Hawaii’s Thousand Friends. We also appreciated the input and conclusions of the Design Advisory Committee (DAC) during the review process.
Mahalo to everyone for your efforts.