On January 3, 2012, the HAWSCT granted cert in Sierra Club v. Castle & Cook Homes of Hawaii, Inc., the Land Use Commission, and the Office of Planning, SCWC-11-0000625, in a case involving the doctrine of quo warranto and the LUC’s reclassification of approximately 767 acres of law from ag to urban for the Koa Ridge Makai and Waiawa Project.
Prior to the LUC approving the project, Sierra Club challenged the ability of one of the LUC’s Commissioners to consider the land use petition by filing a motion to disqualify Commission Duane Kanuha. The motion was denied, and the project was eventually approved with Commissioner Kanuha’s vote. The circuit court reversed the LUC’s order approving the land reclassification and redistricting approval. Sierra Club appealed arguing that the Senate failed to confirm Commissioner Kanuha for a second term and, therefore, he was disqualified.
In an opinion authored by Judge Foley (and joined by Judges Fujise and Leonard) (of four consolidated appeals), the ICA reversed the circuit court’s judgment. Analyzing HRS Section 26-34 (governing the selection and terms of members of boards and commissions), the ICA held that “Kanuha was not disqualified . . . as he had not been a commissioner appointed consecutively to more than two terms as a member of LUC nor had his membership on LUC exceeded eight consecutive years.” Slip. Op. at 5-6. Thus, the circuit court erred in holding that the Commissioner “was not a valid holdover for failure to obtain Senate confirmation for a second term.” Id. at 6.
For more, visit my colleague Robert Thomas's inversecondemnationblog here
The HAWSCT’s Order accepting cert is available here.
The ICA’s Opinion is available here.
The Sierra Club’s cert application is available here.
Castle & Cooke’s response is available here.
The LUC’s response is available here.