City performed well to save Kunia homes
The city has reached a pact with the James Campbell Co. to allow most Kunia Plantation Village families to stay in their homes.
Longtime residents of Kunia Plantation Village on the Ewa Plain were stunned a year and a half ago when Del Monte Fresh Produce Hawaii Inc. announced layoffs of 551 workers. City officials promised assistance and now have devised a laudable solution at no cost to taxpayers.
Most residents of the historic village's 115 homes were pineapple workers, retirees and their families who paid low rent. Rents have tripled since then to $900 a month but they should stabilize under the proposal, which deserves prompt approval by the city Planning Commission and City Council.
Under the plan, the James Campbell Co. has agreed to transfer the 119-acre village on Jan. 1 to the Hawaii Agriculture Research Center, formerly the Hawaii Sugar Planters' Association, which has promised to keep the houses affordable for agriculture workers and retired Del Monte employees.
In return, Campbell will be able to count the 115 homes in the 1,230 affordable housing units it has promised the city in its planned Makaiwa Hills development mauka of the Ko Olina Resort. The company also will upgrade the plantation village's fire system.
Steve MacMillan, the company's chief executive, praised Mayor Mufi Hannemann for leading the effort. "It is certainly a daunting task but we believe this is the most affordable and seamless way to help the residents of Kunia Village," he said.
About one-third of the village's families will be forced to move out because they no longer include current or retired farm workers. City and state agencies should heed the International Longshore and Warehouse Union's request to assist those displaced.
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