Residents oppose sober house
The Waimanalo spot is the site of drug activity and is a poor choice, according to residents
Residents of Mekia Street in Waimanalo are trying to stop the operators of a safe and sober house for women from moving into what they say is a known drug house in their neighborhood.
Residents believe drug activity will continue despite the good intentions of the home's operators.
The Tayshea Aiwohi Foundation has already moved in a woman who will be the house manager, and hopes to take in two clients next month, said Jessica Hauki, foundation board member and treasurer.
The foundation gets its name from the woman who was convicted of manslaughter last year in the death of her 2-day-old son because of her admitted drug use in the days before giving birth. The boy died from methamphetamine poisoning.
Aiwohi started the foundation to help other women recovering from substance abuse avoid what she went through.
Mekia Street resident Janice Paoa said the neighborhood did not find out about the foundation's plan until after it started moving into the home. She also questions whether it has the proper government approvals to operate there.
"We were never notified about it; we were never approached about it," Paoa said.
Hauki said the foundation wants to apologize for not asking the residents first and is planning to walk through the community to talk to them. It is also planning a community meeting before the Waimanalo Neighborhood Board's next meeting in January.
She said the foundation has been active in the community and assumed it had its support.
"We don't want to hurt their neighborhood. We want to work with them," Hauki said.
She said the foundation is seeking a zoning variance from the city but does not need a state Department of Health license because no medication will be administered at the home.
Even if the foundation had approached the community, Paoa said the home rented by the foundation is not the right place for recovering substance abusers.
"You have active drug dealers living in the house. That won't work," she said, adding that police have raided the home at least four times in the past five years.
The last raid was on Sept. 17, 2004. The target of the raid, Victoria Kekahuna, pleaded no contest to drug promotion and drug paraphernalia possession charges and was sentenced in March to five years' probation. Her husband, Allan Kekahuna, pleaded guilty to a drug promotion charge last month and is free on bail pending his sentencing in January.
The home is owned by Allan Kekahuna's mother, and neighbors say he still lives there.
Hauki said Kekahuna lives in another dwelling with his mother at the back of the property. Still, she said his presence is a concern.
Victoria Kekahuna visits the home but is living in a safe and sober house in Honolulu, Hauki said. But according to court records, she faces getting her probation revoked for using drugs and alcohol twice in September, failing to report to her probation officer last month and failing to complete an outpatient substance abuse treatment program.
Pam Rodrigues lives next door to Kekahuna. She said she has nothing against the foundation or safe and sober houses. But she said she still sees drug sales happening in front of the house and fears it will continue after the foundation moves in.
Hauki said reports of drug sales there concern her because the purpose of a safe and sober house is to provide an environment away from that kind of activity.
She said the foundation has the support of the Guardian Angels and will ask for their help to discourage drug dealing there.
Honolulu Police Department spokesman Capt. Frank Fujii said, "If the people know that there's drug dealing, they need to call us."