Ruling placing sea wall under state’s oversight praised
HONOLULU (TNS) — Condominium owners along Waikiki’s Gold Coast celebrated Monday a state Supreme Court ruling they say makes clear the state is responsible for maintaining a crumbling sea wall that protects their mostly million-dollar properties.
The state kept up the sea wall for decades, and state funds were last appropriated in 2006 to repair the sea wall. The check was never cut because then-state Attorney General Mark Bennett ruled the sea wall was private and refused to release state funds to repair it, said former state Supreme Court Judge Robert G. Klein, who sued the state in 2007 on behalf of the Gold Coast Neighborhood Association, a nonprofit made up of 10 condominium and apartment buildings bordering the sea wall.
“State lawmakers in Waikiki had managed to get a few million in the state budget to repair the wall, but the (Gov. Linda) Lingle administration refused to release the funds and said if we wanted to change the dynamic that we’d have to sue them,” Klein said. “We won in trial court, we won in the Intermediate Court of Appeals and now we’ve won in the Hawaii Supreme Court.”
Klein said his clients are thrilled with the high court ruling, which determined the state holds an easement over the Gold Coast sea wall “by virtue of the fact that it has been held open for public use for over 50 years.”