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Oral Argument Before the Hawaii Supreme Court — No. SCAP-17-0000482

No. SCAP-17-0000482, Thursday, May 31, 2018, 8:45 a.m.

KALAELOA VENTURES, LLC, Appellant-Appellant, vs. CITY AND COUNTY OF HONOLULU, Appellee-Appellee.

The above-captioned case has been set for argument on the merits at:

Supreme Court Courtroom
Ali iolani Hale, 2nd Floor
417 South King Street
Honolulu, HI 96813
   
 Attorney for Appellant:

Frederick W. Rohlfing III, Nancy J. Youngren, and Lisa K. Johnson

Attorneys for Appellee Malulani Group:

Donna Y.L. Leong, Corporation Counsel; Lee M. Agsalud and Karen K. Lee, Deputies Corporation Counsel

NOTE: Order granting Application for Transfer, filed 12/01/17.

COURT: MER, C.J.; PAN, SSM, RWP, and MDW, JJ.

[ Listen to the entire audio recording in mp3 format ]

Brief Description:
   
 This case arises from the State Tax Appeals Court’s (the tax court) dismissal of fourteen appeals of real property tax assessments on the basis that Kalaeloa Ventures, LLC (KV) untimely filed its notices of appeal.  A primary issue presented in the case is whether the City and County of Honolulu (the City) has the authority under article VIII, section 3 of the Hawaii Constitution to override the “weekend rule,” which is contained in HRS §§ 1-29 and 1-32, as it applies to appeals of real property tax assessments.  In this case, the deadline to file notices of appeal was Sunday, January 15, 2017.  Monday, January 16, 2017 was a holiday.  KV filed its notices of appeal on Tuesday, January 17, 2017.  Under the weekend rule, which permits an act to occur on the next day that is not a Sunday or holiday when the deadline set by law falls on a Sunday or holiday, KV’s appeals would have been timely.

In its holding, the tax court “recognize[d] the constitutional principle of the superior power of the City to address matters of real property tax,” and found that Revised Ordinances of Honolulu (ROH) § 8-1.16, as amended in 2015, excludes the deadline for the filing of tax appeals from the weekend rule.  The tax court held, therefore, that KV’s tax appeals were untimely filed.

KV timely appealed from the tax court’s decision.  KV cites to ROH § 8-1.16, which provides that the due date for any appeal shall be established by “the law establishing the right to appeal.”  KV maintains that the ordinance is implicitly referencing HRS § 232-16, and because the right to appeal arises from the Hawaii Revised Statutes, the weekend rule applies.  Alternatively, KV argues that ROH § 8-1.16 is void either for vagueness or because it is beyond the City’s authority to restrict the jurisdiction of the tax court.  KV also sets forth the following contentions: the City’s lack of authority to set the date for filing appeals with the tax court; the existence of a factual error in the tax court’s holding; the impossibility of filing between January 14-16, 2017 due to the closure of the tax clerk’s office; and, in the event that ROH § 8-1.16 negated the weekend rule, a violation of KV’s constitutional due process right to notice.
   
 The City rebuts KV’s arguments and contends that article VIII, section 3 of the Hawaii Constitution gives the City power over all matters related to real property tax assessment appeals, including methods and procedures of appeals.

The State Attorney General submitted an amicus curiae brief arguing that the City’s constitutionally granted power over real property taxation does not extend to the subject matter jurisdiction of the tax court.  The Attorney General further contends that article VIII, section 6 of the Hawaii Constitution preserved the State’s power to enact statutes of statewide concern, which would include those relating to the weekend rule.  The Attorney General thus argues ROH § 8-1.16 is preempted by reason of conflict with HRS §§ 1-29 and 1-32.