No Claim of Ownership at Root of Manoa Tree Problem

Yuki Nitahara
Yuki Nitahara
Honolulu Council Member Ann Kobayashi
Honolulu Council Member Ann Kobayashi
Representative Kirk Caldwell, (D) Manoa
Representative Kirk Caldwell, (D) Manoa

MANOA (KHNL) - A century-old dispute over a small stretch of road, and some overgrown trees in Manoa is growing out of control - literally. And some Manoa residents say they're left in the middle of a dangerous situation.

A 100-year dispute over Manoa Road is starting to crash down on residents.

"I can hear the branch fall on the roof - ba bunk! I can hear it roll down," said Yuki Nitahara, a Manoa resident.

Roll so hard, Nitahara is left with broken shingles, and an $11,000 bill to fix her roof. She's one of several residents living under old trees that are starting to break.

"And one of them a big branch broke off and fell in the yard and almost hit his grandchild," said Honolulu Councilmember Ann Kobayashi.

The root of the problem? A conflict over who owns Manoa Road.

Some believe Kamehameha Schools gave the road to the city in 1892. But the city said it's not up to city standards, so they never accepted the road.

"Kamehameha Schools, Bishop Estate which is an alleged owner says they don't own it," said Rep. Kirk Caldwell, (D) Manoa. "You also have the Board of Water Supply. They say they don't own it. Paradise Park says they don't own it."

No claim of ownership means no one maintains the trees along the road.

"So before it topples, it would be nice if the tree could be cut for all our sakes," said Dolores Lott, a Manoa resident.

In the name of safety, agencies using the road have pitched in to pay for the cost of cutting down trees that pose an immediate danger -- a $15,000 dollar job.

But the solution is just a temporary fix, and until the fight over who owns this road is resolved, the issue of safety here will continue to grow.

Kamehameha Schools tells KHNL News 8 all their research shows the government owns Manoa Road, that the government built the road before the 1900's.

Out of good faith, Kamehameha Schools, the Board of Water Supply, the Catholic Church, the state, and Hawaii Electric are chipping in to pay for the tree job. The trees are scheduled to go down next week.