Hau'ula resident battles with eminent domainUPDATED 10:21 PM HST Oct 22, 2013Video Transcript
Freedom of speech collides with eminent domain. A Hauula woman accuses the city of acting like a bully by knocking down signs that questioned the seizure of her land. KITV4's Andrew Pereira has our top story at 6. ANDREW PEREIRA: "HERE IN HAUULA, CITY WORKERS ERECTED THIS SIGN ON MONDAY NOTIFYING 610 EVERYONE TO KEEP OUT. HOWEVER, THE PROPERTY OWNER IS INVOLVED IN AN EMINENT DOMAIN BATTLE WITH THE CITY AND SAYS SHE'S THE RIGHTFUL OWNER." Choon James has owned this 20,000 square foot parcel of land since 2006. In February of 2010, the City Council passed a resolution to purchase the lot through eminient domain. James says nothing's been resolved. CHOON JAMES: "WE ARE THE FEE OWNERS, AND IN FACT, THE FIRT TRIAL FOR THIS EMINENT DOMAIN CASE IS NOT GOING TO START TILL MARCH 2014." The city's not waiting... And started removing protest signs this past Friday. "SIGN FALLS INTO DUMP TRUCK" The signs were put there by James, who accuses the mayor of strong-arm tactics. CHOON JAMES: "MAYOR KIRK CALDWELL HAS TURNED OUT TO BE A VERY RUTHLESS BULLY.337 AND THAT IS VERY DISAPPOINTING FOR SOMEONE IN SUCH HIGH OFFICE." The city contends it owns the land as detailed in a circuit court ruling in June, 2010. In April of that same year James' sister Chai Yoshimura sold her adjacent parcel to the city for $521,000. The city says it needs both lots to relocate the dilapidated Hauula Fire station, which rests in a flood zone. CAPT. TERRY SEELIG: "WE'RE TALKING ABOUT BUILDING A MODERN FIRE STATION THAT SERVES THE COMMUNITY WITH THE STANDARD OF SERVICE THAT IS NEEDED, THAT THEY DESERVE." James does have her supporters. In 2010, Marvin Iseke gathered 387 signatures from Hauula residents asking the city not to move the Fire Station. MARVIN ISEKE: "WHY DO THEY HAVE TO COME HERE AND TAKE THIS PLACE? THEY HAD OTHER SITES TO LOOK AT, BUT THEY NEVER TAKE IT." Hauula residents are also upset at the abrupt loss of a popular Reynolds recycling center. SHIRLEY ANN LESSARY: "THERE'S LINES THAT GO AROUND THE BEND EVERY DAY. I LIVE RIGHT ACROSS THE STREET AND I SEE THIS." James had been leasing to Reynolds for $500 a month, but the city told the company James doesn't own the land. CHOON JAMES: "THE CITY IS INTERPRETING THE LAW THE WAY THEY WANT IT, AND THEY'RE ABUSING THE SYSTEM BECAUSE THEY CAN." ANDREW PEREIRA: "JAMES IS NOT BACKING DOWN AND WILL CONTINUE TO BATTLE THE CITY IN COURT FOR THIS PARCEL OF LAND. REPORTING IN HAUULA, ANDREW PEREIRA KITV4 NEWS."