State evicts families from Kahana Valley


POSTED: Monday, October 27, 2008

As Israel Kamakawiwo'ole's sad, soothing “;Somewhere Over the Rainbow”; played on the radio, Ashlin Kepaa sang along yesterday as she helped her father move out of a home they lived in all their lives.





”;It's a scary feeling, not knowing where you're headed. But my feeling is that we tried to the best of our abilities to stay. It's up to our representatives to make it right.”;

Thoran Evans
Kahana resident being evicted



They had packed up mostly everything in the living room and parlor. They still needed to grab the sewing machine. A lot of work goes into packing up three generations of belongings.

“;It was the life, growing up in Kahana,”; reflected Kepaa's father, 46-year-old Thoran Evans. “;We never used to have paved roads. Once the paved roads came, you knew that was a sign of change. But we didn't anticipate change to come this soon. I never thought I'd be facing what I face today.”;

;[map] Six families living in Ahupuaa o Kahana State Park on Oahu's Windward side are facing sudden eviction today because of confusion over their expired leases with the state.

The park is open to the public for camping and hiking. These six families live at the base of the valley in old wooden homes with cold water and outhouses and a paved road that leads to more modern homes, also on state land.

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources, the agency overseeing Kahana Valley, said it told the six families on June 20 that they would have to leave the park because their leases had expired and a state law forbids the issuance of new leases.

Family members said they heard “;rumors”; of an eviction but received formal warning only several days ago.

“;This is a difficult situation for the department and these families,”; Laura Thielen, DLNR director, said in a statement. “;However, Kahana is a public park set aside for all the people of Hawaii, and therefore the law doesn't permit any new private residential leases.”;

In ancient Hawaii, Kahana was once a fishing and farming community, a segment of land from the mountain to the ocean known as an ahupuaa, according to DLNR's Web site. The state bought the land in 1970 to preserve the ahupuaa.


;[Preview]  Families Evicted From Homes In Kahana State Park

  Six families were packing up and getting ready to leave as the homes they been living in are part of Kahana State Park. 


Watch  ]





In 1987 it issued 31 permits for private homes for families who had been living in the valley before the acquisition, but the authority to issue new permits ended on July 1, 1993.


In the statement, Thielen said it was not the state Legislature's intention to provide housing for future generations because the valley would ultimately turn into a subdivision.

Sen. Clayton Hee, who represents that area, said he twice introduced bills to amend the law so the state could issue new permits, but was unsuccessful.

Hee said he has scheduled a meeting with Thielen today in the hope of stopping the eviction and will reintroduce bills giving the state the authority to issue permits until 2012.

That might allow the families to return.

“;I don't understand what's the rush,”; Hee said yesterday. “;It just doesn't make sense to me. But it is clear to me that the (community) support is overwhelming. It's becoming a larger issue because there is a recognition that these evictions are unnecessary.”;

Several dozen supporters, many without ties to Kahana Valley, stood on Kamehameha Highway yesterday to wave signs in support of the six families.

“;I think Hawaiians have been taxed out of their lands,”; said Jackie Graessle, 54, of Kaneohe. “;This has been in Hawaiian families for many generations, and we can't just keep marginalizing Hawaiians like this.”;





www.hawaiistateparks.org/parks/oahu/index.cfm?park_ id=13


Kahana Valley residents living deeper in the valley and not facing immediate eviction fear that with the families gone, it will open up the park to homeless people and crime.

“;They are our eyes and ears,”; Leellen Garvida, 29, who lives about a mile into the valley, said of her makai neighbors. “;They watch out for our safety. What's going to happen to us now?”;

The eviction might force some of the families into homelessness themselves, a few residents said. Evans said his family will likely move to the beach. The same goes for Ervin Kahala and his two children.

“;I decided to get me a camping permit,”; Kahala said. “;From here we go to the beach.”;

Evans said he works 10 hours a day at odd jobs, yet cannot afford to own a home on Oahu.

“;It's a scary feeling, not knowing where you're headed,”; Evans said. “;But my feeling is that we tried to the best of our abilities to stay. It's up to our representatives to make it right.”;