Densho Digital Repository
Katsugo Miho Collection
Title: Katsugo Miho Interview VII
Narrator: Katsugo Miho
Interviewers: Michiko Kodama Nishimoto (primary), Warren Nishimoto (secondary)
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
Date: March 22, 2006
Densho ID: ddr-densho-1022-7-10

<Begin Segment 10>

MN: And you know, during your tenure as a representative, you were responsible for the Horizontal Property Regime Law.

KM: That's very interesting how that became law. In politics, if you're a member of the minority party, your piece of legislation never becomes law. If you introduce a bill under your name, majority party may put in their own, similar bill, under their member's signature. But in that case, it so happened that we had a big fiasco, development fiasco, what they call the Monarch, Monarch Development. The condominiums at that time was, you only had a leasehold. You did not have ownership in the fee. And so this Monarch Development, the developer absconded with down-payment money and whatnot. And a whole bunch of people lost their investment because the investors had no interest in the fee. All what they had was a lease-only interest. And so when the developer absconded with the money, they had nothing. And that was the right time to pass this horizontal property regime law because the horizontal property regime gave the apartment owners a percentage interest in the fee of the land. But what happened was that when I was going to law school in Washington, D.C., I knew of an apartment where it was a condominium, a fee condominium that was very unusual. There was no law at that point, but this one particular building in Washington, D.C., the owners of the apartment also owned the fee, a percentage interest in the fee. And I had heard about it, I had known about it, and so with my contact with the Finance Factors, Hiram Fong's, they had a finance investment very interested in land. And together, we located a model legislation that was being developed in Puerto Rico. So we got the model, basic model form of the law, horizontal property regime law.

The senate that session was under the control of the Republicans. The house was under the control of the Democrats, that year. I think the first state legislature. And so Yasutaka Fukushima, on the senate side, introduced the same bill that I introduced in the house. Now, both measures passed the house as well as the senate. But in the house, what they did was they turned over my bill to the senate after they received the senate bill. What happened was that when two bills pass the senate, you normally have an agreement that the bill that came over first is the one that we ultimately worked on. And so the senate bill came to the house first, my bill went to the senate. And the senate passed... but my bill was stuck in the house, meaning that the chairman wasn't going to have anything to do with my bill. Whereas the senate received my bill, it was sitting on the table, so to speak. And so at the very closing moments of the session, they were trying to bargain and play with the chairman of both, I think it was the judicial committee. Because of some differences, I forgot what differences it was, but the house killed Fukushima's bill. But what the senate did was, my bill, they passed it untouched, and so it became law as-is. And so a minority member's bill became law because of these circumstances. It was very unusual, but it changed the whole format in Hawaii. It was the bill that opened the doors wide for all of the developments we now see today, the horizontal property regime law.

MN: And it helped change the landscape of the city.

KM: It did, very much, because it provided all apartment owners security into the development, apartment development, whatever. They had an interest in the land together with the apartment.

MN: It really did change the landscape of the city.

KM: Oh, it was very significant. But pure chance, so to speak. Although eventually, I'm sure, someone would have found out about, and it just so happened that I had remembered this Washington, D.C., apartment where -- as a matter of fact, Ted Tsukiyama's wife, Fuku, and her roommate, lived in that apartment. That's why I found out about it. The apartment that Fuku and her roommate lived in was that condominium, fee-simple condominium. That's how I learned about it.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2021 Densho. All Rights Reserved.