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Surfrider Foundation v. Zoning Board of Appeals

Supreme Court of Hawai’i
358 P.3d 664 (2015)


The Honolulu City Council established a building height setback requirement on the shoreline as part of a special design district designed to maintain the Waikiki neighborhood’s identity. The ordinance allowed for a variance if (1) the applicant would be deprived of the reasonable use of its land absent the variance; (2) the variance was needed due to circumstances unique to the applicant, as opposed to general neighborhood circumstances; and (3) the variance would not change the essential character of the neighborhood and was not contrary to the purpose of the ordinance. Kyo-ya Hotels & Resorts LP filed a variance application, seeking to redevelop an eight-story hotel into a 26-story hotel that would encroach on the height setback requirement by 74 percent. The city approved the variance. Surfrider Foundation and others (plaintiffs) appealed the decision. The Zoning Board of Appeals (defendant) affirmed. The circuit court affirmed the Board’s decision. Surfrider appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Pollack, J.)

Concurrence (Recktenwald, C.J.)

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