State, not protesters, could face fines for unpermitted structure at Mauna Kea

Updated: Sep. 4, 2019 at 5:20 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Activists who’ve been blocking construction at the summit of Mauna Kea for the past seven weeks have begun doing some light construction themselves.

They’ve put up an unpermitted wooden building at their base camp.

And the state ― not protesters ― could face hefty fines if the structure isn’t taken down.

Builders say the wooden structure at the Puu Huluhulu side of the protest camp is a library and learning center for the keiki.

“They make universities like that, but nothing for the keiki," said Kevin Kahikina, one of the builders.

“It’s kind of a safe spot for the keiki for research, do homework. A quiet place for them out of the town that they have here for them.”

But Hawaii County says it's an unpermitted structure.

Mayor Harry Kim told Hawaii News Now the county doesn’t know who built it so the property owner, the Department of Hawaiian Homelands, is responsible and could be fined more than $1,000 per day.

Kim says he spoke to DHHL Chair Bill Aila about the issue.

"I said it is your property. It is an illegal structure as far as we know," said Kim.

In a letter to Aila on Tuesday, Kim said, “Ongoing violations and failure to comply will be referred to DHHL after the county has exhausted all remedies short of pursuing legal action to address the violation."

A map from DHHL shows where the structure is on the Hilo side of Puu Huluhulu.

The agency says it notified protesters and, following a notice to vacate, it will remove the structure as soon as resources become available.

“Law enforcement has notified protectors at Puu Huluhulu that the structure near Kipuka Puu Huluhulu is unpermitted," Aila said, in a statement. “Unauthorized structures on all DHHL lands statewide are addressed in a consistent manner.”

Meanwhile, the latest figures released by Hawaii County show the tally for law enforcement at the intersection of Daniel K. Inouye Highway and Mauna Kea access road and is now at $3.7 million.

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