City weighs in on ownership of Queen Street

KAKAAKO (HawaiiNewsNow) - A dispute over who owns a stretch of Queen Street pits a landowner against several small businesses. The strip runs from Cooke Street to Kamakee Street.

The Chun family owns Kakaako Land Company.  It claims it owns the shoulders of both sides of the street.

A company representative told Hawaii News Now, Kakaako Land acquired the property in the mid 1980s and has given the city documents that prove it.

The city does confirm that stretch of Queen Street has an owner.  But stops short of saying who it is.

"It is privately owned. It does not belong to the city," city design and construction director Lori Kahikina said. "We will not determine on the private side who owns it."

But Tropical Lamp and Tropical Otto Shop owner Cliff Garcia and other business owners whose property lines end at the shoulder of Queen Street fear Kakaako Land's claim threatens access to their properties.

"I don't feel these Chuns own this at all," Garcia said. "If you don't have a tax map key and you don't pay property tax, how can you own something?"

"Show me a property tax bill that these people actually paid, from when they took ownership, which is in 1985. I don't believe they even paid one cent," said Neal Tamura of Ray's Transmission Service.

Kakaako Land defends itself by saying there are no property taxes on roads and no tax map keys on roads.

The city had to combine four different tax maps for an overview of the site. Kahikina said the city does own the intersection of Queen Street and Ward Avenue and two small slivers of shoulder along Queen Street.

"All we're concerned about is what the city owns," she said. "What the business owners and the Chuns do, that's beyond the city's kuleana."

Garcia produced an order of condemnation issued in 1960.  He strongly believes it trumps Kakaako Land's claim.

"If they do own it, they should be liable for everything that happens out here. If this is their street they should take of this," he said.

The city said it does perform "limited maintenance" on that stretch of Queen Street.  Kahikina said other roads are privately owned, so the Queen Street case isn't unusual.

Kakaako Land has contracted Diamond Parking to enforce parking fees along two sections of Queen Street. It's deciding whether to include other areas.

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