Chun Kerr LLP welcomes Nathaniel A. Higa as a partner with the firm
July 2017 – A graduate of Pepperdine University School of Law, Nat advises clients in commercial litigation and tax controversies. He represents clients in the Hawaii State and Federal Courts, as well as the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
Prior to joining Chun Kerr in 2015, Nat served as an extern with Ninth Circuit Judge Sandra Ikuta and worked at two other prominent Honolulu law firms.
Nat is a member of the Hawaii State Bar Association and is named a “Rising Star” among Hawaii’s Super Lawyers in 2015 and 2016.
Webinar: The General Excise and Use Tax for Contractors in Hawaii
Monday, June 05, 2017
Chun Kerr Partner Ray Kamikawa will be presenting a web-accessible seminar on the topic of “The General Excise and Use Tax for Contractors in Hawaii” on July 26, 2017, from 9:00 to 10:30am. The seminar will provide participants with a working knowledge of: how the Hawaii General Excise Tax applies to construction contractors; how prime contractors can qualify for subcontract deductions; exemptions available to contractors; tax treatment of suppliers to constructions contractors; special use tax rules on imports used in construction; and how the general excise tax applies to owner-developers who improve and sell their own property in fee and leasehold. If you are interested in participating in the seminar you may [sign up at this link] and receive a 50% discount.
Effie A. Steiger and Kevin Naud, Jr. Join Chun Kerr LLP
Honolulu law firm Chun Kerr LLP is pleased to announce that Effie A. Steiger has been hired as a senior associate and Kevin Naud, Jr. as an associate.
Ms. Steiger, with nearly a decade of litigation experience, joins the firm’s commercial and real estate litigation team. She was most recently with the Law Office of Philip R. Brown in Honolulu, where she served as counsel in civil cases involving real estate, business and contract disputes, constitutional rights, and personal injury. She has also worked as a family law clerk in the Eighth Judicial District Court in Las Vegas. In 2006, Ms. Steiger earned her J.D. from William S. Boyd School of Law at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
Mr. Naud has served as a law clerk for Judge Lisa M. Ginoza in the Hawaii Intermediate Court of Appeals since 2013. He will practice in the firm’s business transactions area. In 2013, Mr. Naud earned his J.D. from the University Of Washington School Of Law.
Law firm makes strategic move for future
The Honolulu law firm Chun Kerr LLP has recently moved its office within the downtown area to a larger space on the 21st floor of the First Hawaiian Center after occupying its former office space for nearly five decades, the firm’s partners confirmed to Pacific Business News.
The firm spent $1 million on the renovation of its new 12,500-square-foot office, which takes up the entire 21st floor of the state’s tallest building.
“We were at full capacity,” Janel Yoshimoto, a partner at Chun Kerr, told PBN. “We had the choice of getting another floor or staying together.
“[The move] is strategic for us,” she said. “We are also being mindful of how the firm is going to be changing in composition. We have senior partners, middle tier and young associates. There will be this period of changing. We need to make sure there’s enough space to grow.”
Chun Kerr has a total of 47 employees, including 20 attorneys. The firm handles cases in areas of real estate, finance, business transactions and organizations, estate planning and taxation, and its clients include Foodland, Bank of Hawaii, First Hawaiian Bank, DeBartolo Development and Hawaii developer Peter Savio.
The firm’s expansion comes at a time when other companies are leasing out less space, as larger employers are squeezing more workers into smaller footprints.
“We’re fairly bullish about the future,” Andrew Bunn, a partner at Chun Kerr, told PBN. “Our firm has seen steady growth. We have good clients and that gives us confidence to go after more square footage.”
Honolulu-based J. Kadowaki Inc. was the general contractor for the firm’s office build-out. WorkPlaceWorks, which specializes in designing offices for law firms, and Philpotts Interiors also did work on the build-out.
Shawn Rush, a partner with WorkPlaceWorks, told PBN that some of the elements it incorporated at Chun Kerr’s new office included reducing the size of its law library, re-using some items and taking advantage of the natural light.
“There is a need to focus in this industry like none other,” she said. “They have an amazing group of attorneys and we were thrilled to be a part of this move.”
Duane Shimogawa covers energy, commercial real estate and development for Pacific Business News.
New Associate Joseph Dane Instructs Business Associations Course at University of Hawai’i Law School
Joseph Dane is the current instructor of the Business Associations course at the William S. Richardson School of Law at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
He began in the Spring semester of 2016 and will continue through the Fall.
City Property Appraisal Not Legal, Attorney Says
By Rob Shikina – Honolulu Star Advertiser
A Honolulu property owner is claiming the city’s rule for determining property tax assessments is unconstitutional.
The city released its real property assessments Tuesday.
Ray Kamikawa, attorney for Schuyler Cole, said his client will appeal the city’s assessment for the Residential A classification, which applies to parcels valued at $1 million or more that do not have a homeowner’s exemption. The classification took effect in July.
Kamikawa said the classification is an illegal real propertytax classification because it classifies properties based on the value of the property rather than the property’s use
The Residential A classification sets up a higher tax rate of $6 per $1,000 of assessed value for residential use properties appraised at $l million or more, higher than the $3.50 per $1,000 of assessed value for similar properties under $1 million.
“This higher tax rate is made even more egregious because the $6 rate … is triggered when the value of the property increases by one dollar, from $999,999 to $1 million, abruptly increasing the tax by $2,500,” Kamikawa said in a statement. “This cliff effect implicates violations of the Equal Protection Clause of the Hawaiiand United States constitutions.”
“He said the cliff effect harms local residents who have had the same property in their families for generations and may be relying on such property for supplemental income, while property values have increased through no fault of their own.
“Furthermore, local taxes cannot, under the United States Constitution, have a disproportionate impact on out-of-state taxpayers,” Kamikawa said.
It’s good to have an ally who knows his stuff
Honolulu Star Advertiser
If you wanted to challenge a controversial tax law in Hawaii, you couldn’t do much better than to enlist a former state tax director who has, among other things, worked in the state Attorney General’s Office, the Internal Revenue Service’s Office of the Chief Counsel, taught tax law at the University of Hawaii and was co chair of the Chamber of Commerce’s tax committee. That would be Ray Kamikawa, who these days is with the law firm Chun Kerr LLP and also is representing Schuyler “Lucky” Cole, whose firm manages vacation and other rental properties.
On behalf of Cole, Kamikawa is challenging the city’s Residential A property tax classification, which taxes nonowneroccupied homes valued at $1 million or more at a rate almost twice as much as what owner occupied homes are taxed. Kamikawa contends that is illegal, and if he’s right, the days of the Residential A classification could be numbered.
2 More Hotels Planned For Ko Olina
By Allison Schaefers – Honolulu Star Advertiser
A Chinese firm purchases land in West Oahu and plans to invest $1 billion in developing it
A Chinese corporation closed on two Ko Olina Resort beachfront parcels Thursday and plans to make a $1 billion investment, including the construction of two new uberluxury branded resorts.
China Oceanwide Holdings Group Co. Ltd. paid $200 million to purchase the 1 million squarefoot fee simple property, said Jeffrey R. Stone, founder and master developer of The Resort Group, Hawaii’s largest landowner of masterplanned resort communities. Stone said the company plans to build two new hotels, which will add 400 traditional hotel rooms and 400 residences to Ko Olina Resort. Stone said hotel branding will be announced before midyear, with construction expected to start by the end of 2016 and a target opening of 2018.
In addition to bringing Ko Olina nearer to the conclusion of what’s been about a 20year buildout for Stone, the investment is expected to attract more of China’s coveted highend visitors and bolster further Chinese investment in Hawaii. The purchase is expected to play a major role in increasing the emerging China market, which was forecast to bring only just over 185,000 visitors to Hawaii next year.
“By far and away this is the largest Hawaii hotel investment from a Chinese investor. Nothing compares to this,” said Joseph Toy, president and CEO of hotel consultancy Hospitality Advisors LLC. “We’ve seen that level of investment on the mainland, but never in Hawaii before.”
And what’s even better is that the investment will bring two new luxury hotels to Oahu, where Toy said only about 1,450 of about 28,000 hotel and condo rentals can be counted among the highest tier. The significant increase in top hotel rooms is expected to attract more higheryield visitors, whose spending keeps tourism growing regardless of capacity caps. George D. Szigeti, president and CEO of the Hawaii Tourism Authority, said further development at Ko Olina is welcome news for Oahu’s visitor industry, which has been grappling for some time with hotel room compression in Waikiki and has needed more toptier rooms.
“These new luxury hotels at Ko Olina will help alleviate concerns that westbound, and especially international, travelers have about securing firstclass accommodations, while expanding their range of offerings to choose from,” Szigeti said. “Keeping travelers excited about coming to Hawaii means our industry needs to continually evolve to satisfy their expectations. These new hotels help us to meet that reality and, ultimately, our entire visitor industry stands to benefit.”
Stone said Ko Olina’s partnership with China Oceanwide along with the May 27, 2016, opening of the Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina and the August 2011 opening of the Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa in Ko Olina, together play a pivotal role in attracting more of the world’s most admired hotel and leisure brands to Oahu.
“China Oceanwide has deep expertise in real estate development. The Ko Olina acquisition complements our global investment strategy very nicely, and will greatly enhance our international development portfolio,” said Lu Zhiqiang, China Oceanwide chairman.“We look forward to our partnership with Ko Olina and the Hawaii community.”
Stone, founder of The Resort Group, said its longterm strategy is to position Ko Olina as a premier mixeduse destination offering a sophisticated mix of upscale hotels, branded private residences, vacation clubs and recreational and leisure amenities with international appeal.
“China Oceanwide will bring development of our master plan to 75 percent,” Stone said. “We only have two parcels in the resort remaining. There’s the marina resort site at Lagoon Four, and then there’s the grand Ko Olina site that’s next to Disney.”
At full build-out, Stone said total investment in Ko Olina is expected to exceed $15 billion, with a yearly generator of $1.4 billion a year to the state. All the projects together will have created more than 35,000 construction jobs and some 14,400 permanent jobs, he said.
Note: Chun Kerr LLP served as local counsel to China Oceanwide Holdings Group Co. Ltd.
Residential A Property Tax Bills to be Challenged in Court
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
HONOLULU (December 17,2015) – The release of real property assessments from the City and County of Honolulu on December 15th has prompted concerned citizens to address the inequities of the Residential A real property tax classification.
In a statement issued by Ray Kamikawa, attomey for Schuyler (“Lucky”) Cole, Mr. Cole will appeal his Residential A real property tax assessments because:
- – The Residential A classification is an illegal real property tax classification because it classifies properties differently based only on the value of the real property, as opposed to the use of the real property as required by the relevant City and County of Honolulu Revised Ordinances. The Residential A classification sets up a significantly higher tax rate ($6.00 rate) for residential use properties appraised at $1 million or more, far higher than residential use properties below that value ($3.50 rate).
- – This higher tax rate is made even more egregious because the $6.00 rate applies to the entire value of the property and is triggered when the value of the property increases by one dollar, from $999,999 to $1 million, abruptly increasing the tax by $2,500. This cliff effect implicates violations of the Equal Protection Clause of the Hawaii and United States Constitutions.
- – This cliff effect harms local residents who have had the same property in their families for generations, and who may be relying on such property to provide supplemental income, where property values have increased through no fault of their own.
- – Furthermore, local taxes cannot, under the United States Constitution, have a disproportionate impact on out-of-state taxpayers.
Mr. Cole is aware that others who are similarly situated will also be challenging their assessments.
Chun Kerr Names Pamela Macer as Partner
(HONOLULU, Jan. 12, 2015) – Chun Kerr, a Limited Liability Law Partnership, announced today that it has named Pamela Macer a partner. She has been with the firm since 2008.
Macer focuses on the representation of developers in commercial real estate transactions including condominium development, the representation of landlords and tenants in leasing transactions for commercial real estate and the representation of commercial banks and mortgage lenders in commercial real estate financing. She previously spent five years representing major pharmaceutical companies in class action litigations.
Prior to obtaining her law degree, she had a 20+-year career in the banking industry where she focused on lending, including 15 years managing the loan services and commercial loan operations departments at a mainland bank.
A 1978 graduate of DePauw University, she earned her JD cum laude at Notre Dame Law School in 2003.
She is a member of the American and Hawaii State Bar Associations and is a member of the Board of the HSBA Real Property and Financial Services Section. She is a volunteer for the Hawaii Humane Society, Muscular Dystrophy Association and Junior Judges Program.