Judge weighs legal standing of rail opponents

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The legal battle over rail went another round in federal court. The plaintiffs claim that they have a right to sue because they frequent certain sites that the 20-mile rail line will impact.

On Wednesday, visiting judge Wallace Tashima heard the merits of two motions to eliminate some of the claims made by rail opponents, including former governor Ben Cayetano, who is suing to stop the $5.3 billion project.

"Based upon the standing declarations they filed, they haven't shown that they have standing for certain of these sites," deputy city corporation counsel Gary Takeuchi said.

The sites include Chinatown, Aloha Tower, Mother Waldron Park in Kakaako, and the Merchant Street historic district in the heart of the city. Plaintiffs' attorney Nicholas Yost said his clients have legitimate concerns about how rail might affect those areas.

"They visit these sites regularly," he said.

Yost argued the sites are important because they contribute to the beauty of the city and the visual integrity of Honolulu.

But attorneys representing the city and the Federal Transit Administration said their motions are meant to streamline the case, before the hearing on the rail lawsuit in August.

"We're asking the court to rule that some of these sites be taken off the books," Takeuchi said.

Plaintiff Randal Roth said the city is spending a lot of time and money trying to pick off rail opponents one by one.

"What the public has to understand is that if one of the plaintiffs have standing then the case goes forward," he said.

The judge took the city's motions under advisement and will issue his ruling at a later date.

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