2020 Hawaii Revised Statutes
Title 37. Hawaii Penal Code
708. Offenses Against Property Rights
708-804 Control of albizia trees on private property.
§708-804 Control of albizia trees on private property. (a) An owner of real property or the owner's agent shall be authorized to enter vacant real property that is privately owned and directly adjacent to the entering owner's property to control one or more albizia trees located on the adjacent property; provided that the entering owner:
(1) Has consulted with a tree risk assessment qualification certified arborist to confirm that the albizia trees on the adjacent property:
(A) Create a condition that could become hazardous to the entering owner's property or persons thereupon if left untreated; and
(B) May be felled and removed or otherwise treated according to current established methods that minimize risk to human health and safety, and without damaging any structure, utility pole, or utility line;
(2) Has unsuccessfully made two or more reasonable attempts within the previous thirty days to contact the owner of record of the adjacent property via telephone or registered mail; and
(3) Has given written notice to the adjacent property owner prior to accessing the adjacent property, to prevent the property from mistakenly being determined vacant where the land is not in production because it is, for example, resting pasture land at the intended time of entry.
(b) It shall be a defense to citation or prosecution under sections 708-814, 708-815, 708-820, 708-821, 708-822, 708-823, and 708-823.5 that the entering property owner or agent entered an adjacent property for the purposes of and in compliance with this section.
(c) As used in this section:
"Albizia tree" means any tree of the species Falcataria moluccana or Albizia chinensis.
"Vacant" means improved or unimproved but having no reasonable indication of use or maintenance for one year or more. [L 2019, c 13, §2]
In subsection (a), "that" deleted after "provided that" pursuant to §23G-15.
COMMENTARY ON §708-804
Act 13, Session Laws 2019, established this section to: (1) authorize a property owner or agent to enter adjacent vacant property under certain conditions, including consulting with a tree arborist and providing written notice, to control albizia trees before the trees become hazardous; and (2) provide a defense to citation or prosecution for trespass and property damage. The legislature found that albizia trees are an invasive species that are prone to breaking and falling during high winds and tropical storms and, consequently, pose a hazard to public safety and critical infrastructure. Fallen albizia trees caused power outages and other structural damage on the island of Hawaii during tropical storm Iselle in 2014. Albizia trees fell over highways, roads, and driveways in such large numbers during that storm that many people were left trapped in their homes and rescue personnel were prevented from reaching them or, in some cases, returning to the rescuers' base of operations. The legislature further found that albizia trees located on private properties often create hazardous conditions for adjacent properties that should be prevented wherever possible. Albizia trees have been successfully eradicated on many properties, but some property owners have been unresponsive to inquiries from neighbors and repeated notices to control the trees on their property. Act 13 provided a way for neighbors to control adjacent albizia trees to prevent or address hazardous conditions, subject to certain conditions. Senate Standing Committee Report No. 597, Senate Standing Committee Report No. 1018.