© 2020 Sullivan Meheula Lee, LLLP

Land use laws in Hawaiʻi are complex in part because there are many governmental administrative and political bodies that have jurisdiction and they each have different time lines and sequence requirements. For example, the State of Hawaiʻi Land Use Commission governs land classifications and boundary amendments to reclassify lands between urban, rural, agricultural and conservation districts. Changes in land classifications need to precede County level zoning changes. The LUC also designates lands as Important Agricultural Lands and issues Special Use Permits. Certain areas such as Kakaʻako and Kalaeloa are controlled by the Hawaiʻi Community Development Authority that has its own statutory and regulatory laws that pre-empt certain County jurisdiction. Designated areas of the State fall under the jurisdiction of the State Commission on Water Resource Management that administers the State Water Code. Island Burial Councils and the State Historic Preservation Department govern the treatment of Native Hawaiian Burials. Each County (Honolulu, Maui, Hawaiʻi, Kauaʻi) through their planning departments, planning commissions and county councils determine local zoning and permitting. Many of these initial County determinations by these bodies are subject to administrative review such as the Zoning Board of Appeals, and then judicial review under HRS Chapter 91 before the applicable Circuit Court and then the Hawaiʻi appellate courts. Our lawyers have extensive experience before these State and County departments, commissions, authorities, boards and courts, and work collaboratively with clients and their planners to obtain governmental and community buy-in that often prevents denials and delays.

The firm also represents clients before the Public Utilities Commission including representation in the 2015-16 Hawaiian Electric-NextEra Energy merger proceeding.