Friday, July 29, 2016

SMV Comments on Request to Transfer Liquor License

Paradise Park has requested to transfer the liquor license for Treetops, held by James and Michael Boersema to Paradise Park, Inc., James W. Y. Wong,  Darryl P. Wong, and Warren M. Wong.  View the Park's request to the Honolulu Liquor Commission here. 

Below is testimony submitted by Save Manoa Valley for the Honolulu Liquor Commission from Save Manoa Valley regarding agenda item, Stock Transfer, Appl. No 16-6201, from DRW, Inc dba Treetops at Paradise Park Restaurant.

July 28, 2016
Mr. Michael S. Yamaguchi, Chair
Honolulu Liquor Commission
711 Kapiolani Blvd, Suite 600
Honolulu, NI  96813

Re:  July 28, 2016 Agenda Item, Stock Transfer Application:  #1.  Appl. No. 16-6201 from DRW, Inc dba Treetops at Paradise Park Restaurant, Dispenser General License (Category No. 1 - Standard Bar)

Dear Chairman Yamaguchi:

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the Stock Transfer Application #16-6201 dba Treetops at Paradise Park Restaurant. 

Save Manoa Valley (SMV) has no objection to the proposed transfer of stock from James and Michael Boersema to Paradise Park Inc; provided, however, that transfer resulting in the 100% ownership by Paradise Park, Inc. does not lead to intensification of noise, use and activity generated in the restaurant.  SMV recommends that the Honolulu Liquor Commission impose certain conditions for approval of the stock transfer to assure the immediate and surrounding community that the dispensing of alcoholic beverages under a Dispenser General License (Category No. 1-Standard Bar) does not adversely affect neighbors from the quiet enjoyment of their property nor pose potential safety hazards on their residential streets and surroundings. 

Save Manoa Valley, a Hawai'i non-profit corporation, is dedicated to preserving, protecting and advancing the ecological, environmental, socio-economic and cultural attributes of Manoa Valley and in particular preserving and protecting lands designated as Conservation Lands in Manoa by the State of Hawaii.  Paradise Park sits on Conservation Land under a Conservation District Use Permit (CDUP) from Hawaii State Department of Land and Natural Resources.  Paradise Park ceased its primary operations for its permitted botanical and zoological gardens around 1994.  Treetops, a restaurant, is an accessory or ancillary use of Paradise Park's botanical and zoological garden under its CDUP. 

SMV concerns are as follows: 
1.       Treetops is located deep within Manoa Valley;  a distance of about 3 miles from Dole Street along Manoa Road completely surrounded by single family residential uses.  There are no major roads leading to Treetops; access/egress is via our neighborhood collector/distributor street network consisting of two lane roads.  Manoa Valley Elementary School is located about 1 mile away from Treetops on Manoa Road.  The posted speed limit for these residential streets is 25 mph and the only traffic controls on Manoa Road are stop signs, including a five-way intersection.   
2.       There are no other traffic generators or sound barriers near Treetops to reduce or absorb noise from the restaurant.   The ambient noise level is the quiet solitude of the natural environment and valley which is frequently pierced with the entertainment sounds and noise generated by Treetops activities and events particularly in the late evenings and nights up to 10 pm.  Immediate neighbors to Treetops and some located in neighborhoods 1/4 to 1/2 mile away are disturbed or awakened by the noise and sounds emanating from Treetops resulting in complaints to the establishment, neighborhood board, City Council and Department of Land and Natural Resources.  
3.       The winding and narrow portion of the Manoa Road, with a steep slope on one side, leading up to Treetops is considered by the City  and County a substandard road.  With parked cars on this road, it narrows to one lane requiring  full and unimpaired attention to the oncoming automobile traffic and pedestrians headed to or from Manoa Falls.   This hilly, narrow and winding road with potential automobile, bus and pedestrian conflicts is a known hazard area and is the site of accidents.   
4.       There is significant community concern about Treetops restaurant increasing the level of night time entertainment events, loud and blaring music, noise and private parties, including liquor dispensing, further threatening the ability of nearby homeowners from safely enjoying the quiet sanctity of their private property and community. 
In light of these conditions and concerns, SMV recommends that the Honolulu Liquor Commission impose the condition for approval of the subject stock transfer that any and all liquor dispensing in the Treetops restaurant cease at sundown with no exceptions for private parties, entertainment events or other activities. 
Thank you for your consideration.
Gordon Aoyagi, Chair
Save Manoa Valley
P0 Box 61456
Honolulu, HI  96839-1456

cc            Council Member Ann Kobayashi

Sunday, July 17, 2016

AG Recommends Denial of Park's Petition for Contested Case

On July 11, 2016 Save Manoa Valley was informed that the Attorney General's office has recommended that the Board of Land and Natural Resources deny Paradise Park's request for a contested case. 

BLNR Chair Case waived attorney-client privilege in order to allow the public to see the Attorney General's rationale for recommending that the Board deny Paradise Park's request for a contested case. See the recommendation here. 

Organizationally, Save Manoa Valley has been busy electing an executive board and incorporating as a non-profit in the state of Hawaii. We are also setting up a fiscal sponsorship in order to accept tax-deductible donations for legal action and basic outreach costs.

President: Gordon Aoyagi
Vice-President: (currently vacant)
Treasurer: Dr. Jeremy Lam
Secretary & Membership: Jolyn Rosa
Communications: Mike McFarlane
Board Member At Large: Steven Oppenheimer, Esq.
Board Member At Large: Christina Lizzi 

We recognize that this will be an on-going, long-term process. We are dedicated to preserving, protecting and advancing the ecological, environmental, socio-economic and cultural attributes of Manoa Valley and in particular preserving and protecting lands designated as conservation lands by the state of Hawaii.

A link for tax-deductible donations will be posted shortly. Until then, please contact if you would like to make a contribution. 


At a future meeting, the Board of Land and Natural Resources  will decide whether or not to approve or deny the Park's petition for a contested case Hearing.  STAY TUNED for an update on when the meeting will be - we'll need your presence there! 

What if the petition is denied? 
If the petition is denied, we remain at the status quo as of May 27, 2016 - the Park retains its original permit from 1966 along with all the conditions of that permit, but is not allowed to proceed with its plans to rebrand, re-construct, and re-open at a large scale. The Park will at a minimum need to reapply for another modification to its current permit in order to proceed. However, given the scope of the changes, the large amount of work that needs to be done and the vastly changed conditions since the Park was last in operation,  SMV believes that the Park should be required to apply for a new Conservation District Use Permit. Opening up a new themed park in 2016 is essentially a different action then what was authorized back in 1966 without regard for community input or environmental protection. For any action the Park should be required to do an environmental assessment. 

The Park may also appeal the denial to the Court system. 

What if the petition is granted? 
If the petition is granted, then the contested case will proceed.  A contested case is a quasi-judicial administrative hearing. Essentially, it is much like a court trial, but with more relaxed rules. Witnesses and evidence are presented and an administrative law judge oversees the proceedings. The judge will make findings of fact and conclusions of law regarding the rights of the parties. 

SMV has indicated its intention and submitted a petition to intervene in the contested case if it is granted. Accordingly, we would be able to present witnesses and evidence to ensure that the rights of the community are understood and considered. We will keep you informed as we move forward.