A cautionary tale for state, city authorities
The state has proposed to buy nine houses in Kaneohe to use the land for flood control.
THE state's plan to buy and tear down nine homes in a Kaneohe subdivision
appears to be the most practical solution to mitigate flooding in the neighborhood.
However, that such an extreme step must be taken points to the need for city and state authorities to more carefully consider consequences of development in areas more vulnerable to the forces of nature.
State officials surprised homeowners in the Kahelelani subdivision with the proposal to buy or, if necessary, condemn their property to install a $3 million flood-control basin. The basin will not stop seepage that undermines foundations and walls of other homes in the subdivision, but officials hope that in conjunction with a new city drainage ditch, flooding will be restricted.
Kahelelani residents say they warned government officials years ago that allowing land for another subdivision, called Castle Hills, to be built up by 30 feet would cause flooding problems, and apparently it has. Water from the Koolaus and Castle Hills flows to Kahelelani and into a nearby stream where before, water flowed in another direction. Heavy rain caused severe flooding about 10 years ago, resulting in lawsuits and other legal action.
The state Transportation Department will seek an unknown amount of tax dollars from the Legislature next year to pay for the houses. The department is the responsible agency because it removed Castle Hills' original access road for the H-3 construction and was forced to build a new one when the subdivision's developer, who was supposed build the road, went out of business.
Though federal money will help pay for the flood-control project, the state has to come up with funds to buy the houses.
For the homeowners, some of whom are reluctant to leave and others who have been unable to sell their property, the plan would provide relief. In any event, city and state officials should not allow a repetition of their plight. The financial costs and emotional tolls are too great.
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