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August 1989

September 1989

President's Message (Arlene Ellis)
News from National Board
Campaign Reform
Act for Better Child Care
House Bill on Child Care
LWV Presents
County Initiative for Zoning
Windward Oahu Water Management Area Proposed (Kiyoko Nitz)
General Membership Meeting
Tell it to Washington

County Initiative for Zoning

Honolulu. League presented testimony in support of restoring the right of the people to use initiatives for zoning at the county level at an information-gathering hearing on Saturday, July 29 by Senator Russell Blair.

The hearing room was overflowing with interest parties---both pro and con, but mostly pro---who came to testify or just listen.

The hearing was held in reaction to the Hawaii Supreme Court ruling of May 17 which upheld an earlier circuit court decision prohibiting the use of county initiative for zoning. The Supreme Court issued its written decision on June 21.

Invited to the hearing were five professionals on the subject of land use law or development. They, represented both sides of the controversy. Those who opposed initiative generally believed that it would take some rather complicated changes in more than one statute to restore the initiative power. Those who favored initiative thought that a simple amendment would do.

The latter group based their reasoning on the fact that the Supreme Court, in their decision, placed the emphasis on what they believed the legislature intended back in 1957. Very. simply, this meant that when the legislature passed Chapter 46-4 which gives certain powers in land use matters to the counties, there was no initiative or referendum at the state or county level. Therefore, the majority reasoned, county zoning by initiative or referendum could not have been intended.

Conversely, in his dissent, Judge Edward Nakamura reasoned that since the legislature did not foresee initiative or referendum, it could not have meant to prohibit their use, and granted powers "liberally---in favor of the county."

The simplest way to restore the right to use initiative for zoning may be for the legislature to amend Chapter 46-4 to state that it is not the intent of the legislature to prohibit the use of initiative or referendum for zoning at the county level. (Referendum should be included because the wording and logic of the Supreme Court decision makes it seem certain that referendum would also not be allowed.)

It is of utmost importance that the legislature make it clear that home rule for the counties is intended. Otherwise, county initiative rights may be undermined in other areas where there may be a conflict between state statute and county charters.

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