July, 1980 Home   Newsletters

August-September, 1980

October, 1980

LWV Puts Prosecutors on TV
President's Message (Barbara Farwell)
League in Action!
Cromwell and the Year of the Coast (Kiyoko Nitz)
Happenings at Honolulu Hale
First Unit Meetings of the Year!
State League Presents...
What Makes the City Run? (Astrid Monson)
Transit Coalition (Dorothy Lum)
Do You Like Money?
Let's Be Candid... This is a Pitch (Claire Gregorcyk)
Act of Congress
Make Your Vote Count

What Makes the City Run?


You don't like the way your block is zoned? The Building Department won't give you a permit to build what you want? You'd like to put a second house on your lot? You've already built something and you don't want to tear it down?

AHA! Jerry Hess has just been elected Chairman of the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA). You can appeal to her to give you a variance. Right? WRONG!

Many people think the ZBA can let you legally violate the zoning ordinance. Though it may sometimes seem like that, actually the ZBA's powers are very limited and strictly spelled out in the City Charter (sec. 6-10009).

  1. The ZBA can sustain an appeal from the Director of the Department of Land Utilization (DLU) if it finds:

    1. That the action taken was based on an erroneous finding of material fact,

    2. That the Director acted in an arbitrary or capricious manner or had manifestly abused his discretion.

  2. The ZBA can grant a variance from the application of the zoning code on a specific lot where such application would create an unnecessary hardship if:

    1. The applicant would otherwise be deprived of the reasonable use of his land;

    2. The request is due to unique circumstances, not general conditions in the neighborhood;

    3. The variance will not alter the essential character of the locality nor be contrary to the intent of the code.

  3. The "unnecessary hardship" test is the essence of a variance. Generally, to qualify, the Courts have ruled that the hardship:

    1. Cannot have been created by the applicant;

    2. Cannot be financial -- i.e. involving profitably;

    3. Must be unique -- i.e. applicable to a specific piece of property which is in some way different from others in the area;

    4. Is not caused by a defect in the general zoning rules.

Usually variances are supposed to be granted in cases of unusual terrain, odd-shaped lots, lot dimensions slightly less than required, and similar situations. If what is requested is actually a change in zoning, the ZBA cannot grant it. This is a legislative matter and has to follow the usual path via the Planning Commission and the City Council.


Astrid Monson

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