09 • 23 • 2015
State Supreme Court Victory in the Kyo-Ya Case
After five years of litigation and activism, Surfrider's Oahu Chapter and a coalition of three other environmental non-profits were stoked to hear that the Hawaii State Supreme Court ruled in their favor in September 2015 regarding a big development in Waikiki. Surfrider Foundation and a coalition of environmental groups received a big win from the Hawaii Supreme Court when it struck down the Kyo Ya Resort and Hotel's zoning variance that would have expanded the hotel 60 feet into the setback area on Waikiki, the state’s most popular beach. The Supreme Court upheld the coastal preservation arguments of Surfrider Foundation, Hawaii’s Thousand Friends, Ka Iwi Coalition and KAHEA against the coastal setback variance requested by Kyo Ya in 2010. Kyo-Ya Resorts was trying to redevelop the Moana Hotel's Diamond Head Tower and make it three times bigger than the current structure (from 8 stories to 26 stories). This proposed development would have violated all the existing height, density and shoreline setback requirements, making the new proposed hotel 74% out of code. In spite of these violations, the Honolulu City & County Council and the Department of Planning & Permitting approved the new development, and the Zoning Board of Appeals upheld the decision. Although the lSurfrider Foundation and our allies were the classic underdog in this David vs. Goliath case, the Oahu Chapter's five-year campaign paid off with a big win from the highest court in the land. Their decision will establish strong state law precedent, affirming the sanctity of coastal protection laws.