Fiery testimony as city council weighs takeover of private roads in Kakaako

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It’s been years since the battle began between business owners and a company claiming it owns roadways in Kakaako.

On Tuesday, the Honolulu City Council discussed taking over those streets.

Councilmembers are considering taking up possible condemnation of portions of streets like Kamakee, Waimanu, Kawaiahao, and Queen.

In Tuesday’s hearing, councilmembers discussed the resolution which, if passed, would urge the city to condemn the streets.

After fiery testimony, they took no action, putting off the matter until next month.

“The privatization of these roads has created a public safety issue for pedestrians and vehicles,” said state Rep. Scott Saiki, who represents Kakaako. “The city and the state really need to take action at this point. Residents and businesses have already tried to address this.”

Kakaako Land Company claims to own certain roads in Kakaako, frustrating business owners who want them properly maintained.

“The situation is getting worse and worse every day. We are feeling like we are living in the middle of nowhere,” business owner Bob Emami told the city council.

Robert Kroning, director of the city’s Department of Design and Construction, told the city council, “What (these roads) really are are vacant areas between properties. It would take a little over two and a half years just to get to the condemnation process.”

That did not sit well with business owners.

“I find two and a half years of more studying completely unacceptable,” said business owner Keala Simoes.

The council will continue the discussion at its next hearing in October.

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