Hauula property raided amid criminal investigation into illegal dumping
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - State law enforcement officials on Thursday raided a Hauula property that has been the focus of land use violations and neighborhood division.
It’s all part of a criminal investigation into illegal dumping by the contractor who owns the parcel.
“It is way past time that this happened. We need this action last year. ... We could have prevented all this destruction,” said Dotty Kelly-Paddock, member of the Koolauloa Neighborhood Board.
The raid was conducted by state deputy sheriffs and investigators with the state Attorney General’s office and the Health Department. Using an excavator, they searched the property at 54-406 Kamehameha Highway for evidence of illegal dumping.
Two years ago, the Health Department fined landowner Pate Taufa $17,000, accusing him of illegally dumping 100 cubic yards of building materials. But a hearings officer reduced the fine to $7,000.
Since then, critics say the dumping has increased.
“This property has thousands of pounds of solid waste in it and we don’t know what level of contamination it is going to bring to our community,” said Kelly-Paddock.
Added City Councilmember Heidi Tsuneyoshi:
“We’re talking about the dumping of thousands of cubic yards of fill material from construction sites onto an agricultural land,” she said.
The state is investigating the dumping as a criminal matter because the property is a protected wetland ― a point the landowner challenges.
“I need to correct everyone about this wetland issue. I don’t know where the wetland comes from just because the land is wet,” said Taufa.
He also denied the illegal dumping charges.
“For you to say that I’m dumping thousands of yards of construction material I don’t think I’m the type of person that do this to my own community,” said Taufa.
The raid comes after the City Council voted on Wednesday to allow the city to begin foreclosure proceedings on the property.
That’s because Taufa has run up more than $400,000 in city fines for building and zoning violations.
But now, being investigated criminally, those administrative fines may be the least of his problems.
Copyright 2022 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.