Leilani Estates to seek injunction to maintain checkpoint
HILO, Hawaii (AP) — A neighborhood hit by lava flows following the Kilauea volcano eruption is planning to sue Big Island officials over possible uncontrolled access to the area.
The Leilani Estates Community Association expects to file a federal lawsuit this week, seeking a preliminary injunction to require Hawaii County to maintain private security guards at a checkpoint into the neighborhood, the Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported Sunday.
Leilani Estates wants the security guards, whose contract expires Wednesday, until issues affecting the future of the subdivision are worked out, attorney Mike Garbarino said.
Residents claim that county administrators have left them off the table, and they’re concerned they might be left to deal with an influx of visitors and lawbreakers when the guards leave.
“So long as security is needed in order for them to recover from this disaster, our position is that’s their constitutional right,” Garbarino said. “That’s what the (Federal Emergency Management Agency) fund is for. You can’t pull the security away now.”
Big Island Mayor Harry Kim said the lawsuit is premature, noting that a decision about the security checkpoint is planned to be made Monday.
“I think, I hope, they understand that we know it’s very hard for them,” Kim said. “And I hope that they remember from the first day I said every decision will be made not for individuals but for the good of the community. When you do that obviously there will be people not satisfied and I don’t blame them at all.”
Kim could decide to extend the checkpoint or remove it. FEMA has been paying 75 percent of the checkpoint expenses, which cost about $100,000 a month, Kim said. If the contract is extended, the county might have to foot the bill as that aid is expected to end at the end of the month.
Information from: Hawaii Tribune-Herald, http://www.hawaiitribune-herald.com/