KAKAAKO (HawaiiNewsNow) - A company claims that it owns land along a long stretch of Queen Street. And it's now using that claim to tow away cars and demand rent from neighboring businesses.
Some vehicles belonging to employees of Queen Auto were towed away four months ago from a shoulder area lot, located across the businesses at Queen and Cummins Streets. The company that ordered the towing is Kakaako Land Company, owned by brothers Calvert and Cedric Chun.
Kakaako Land Company has had a lease agreement since October 2011 with Kamaaina Termite and Pest Control Company, which is now in charge of the parking for that parcel, which has signs posted proclaiming that it is private property.
"Kamaaina Termite started cleaning it up and they took over the parking for their employees, and they're paying Cedric for that," said Cliff Garcia, who owns Tropical Lamp and Tropical Otto Shop next door.
Kakaako Land Company also contends it owns just about all the shoulder areas of Queen Street between Cooke Street and Kamakee Street. It has, as evidence, an agreement with the Hawaii Community Development Association dated July 9, 2010, when the company cleared away a homeless encampment along the makai side of Queen Street just Diamond Head of Cummins Street. The property now has cars from Queen Auto, which is paying $1,000 a month to park them there.
The businesses, including Queen Auto, Ray's Transmission, Tropical Lamp, Queens Fast Lube and MacDonald & Porter Inc., have enlisted the help of former city councilman Rod Tam to determine who owns the shoulder areas. According to Tam, the city owns them.
"If it was privately owned, there would be a separate tax map key number with the individual private ownership name on it. And there is none at this time," Tam said.
"It's very strange that there's no tax map key," said Garcia. "Nobody is paying taxes and this guy says he owns it. We pay taxes. I pay property tax."
The Chuns produced a document, in which Adele Christian, the granddaughter of original landowner Charles Desky, signed it over to Calvert Chun in 1985 for just $10.00 in what's called a "quitclaim deed." But other documents say the city got the properties through condemnation in 1960, 25 years before.
The businesses have written the mayor's office for help in determining who owns the land. A spokesman for the mayor said there is one parcel that belongs to the Chuns, but work is still being done to determine remaining ownership.
The business owners also are threatening to take legal action against the brothers.
"Someone's got a claim to this," said Garcia. "The public uses this road. I mean, how can this guy say he owns the road, he owns all of this, and he should be responsible for everything."