More at stake than tenants' homes in Kahuku land sale
Mayor Hannemann is advocating a company's plan that would allow Kahuku village residents to buy their homes.
THE sale of Campbell Estate land in Kahuku has precipitated a difficult situation for people who rent homes there, city officials, potential buyers and the community at large. And no resolution has yet emerged that will please everyone.
However, a compromise is possible if all parties make reasonable accommodations, particularly because the stakes are high -- for 70 tenants who fear eviction and for Oahu residents who want a rural atmosphere retained in a portion of the island.
While the plight of the families has drawn the attention and sympathy of city leaders, market forces, the prerogative of the land owner to capitalize as best it can and the city's lack of funds leave them with few options.
Earlier this week, Mayor Hannemann entered the conflict, advocating a plan by a Florida-based company that wants to add more acreage to its Kahuku holdings.
Continental Pacific LLC proposes to buy the property and sell the old plantation houses to current tenants for $75,000 each, or about an eighth of the median price for a home on Oahu. It also would turn over to a community group the nine-hole golf course makai of the 200-acre village that the city has leased at $1 a year from the estate.
In exchange, the company wants to build about 18 homes along the shoreline that will be sold at market prices, likely in the millions of dollars.
Aside from whether he should have put the weight of his office behind one of several potential buyers, Mayor Hannemann says his effort is "to bring about a good solution." But the proposal discounts the interests of other taxpayers who may prefer that the shoreline be kept free of development.
Moreover, the verbal proposal does not address whether tenants who buy homes can resell them, how subdivision of land will mesh with laws that require infrastructure improvements and how a community group will manage and bear financial responsibility for the golf course. Though the plan is preliminary, these important issues need to be discussed.
Hannemann says he is willing to consider other plans, but candidly warned residents that there is a limit to what government can do. If they say no, they must come up with another idea, the mayor says.
One that should be on the table is the city's long- dormant plan to build affordable housing on land it owns adjacent to the village. The project has stalled for 20 years because it lies in a flood zone, but the problem can be mitigated. In addition, Campbell Estate should consider what its obligations are as a long-standing member of the community.