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Legislators work to delay evictions at Kahana Valley


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POSTED: Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Windward Oahu lawmakers sought yesterday to postpone further the evictions of six Kahana Valley families.

 

;[Preview] Dozen Protest Kahana Evictions
;[Preview]
 

The deadline for families living at a Windward State Park to move out from their homes came and went Monday.

 

Watch ]

 

 

 

 

  After discussions with the Department of Land and Natural Resources and Director Laura Thielen, Sen. Clayton Hee (D, Kahuku-Kaneohe) said the two sides could not come to a resolution. He said talks would continue tomorrow.

 

Thielen was unavailable for comment late yesterday due to a family emergency, her office said.

State officials did not make good on their threat to remove the families from the area yesterday. Their leases had expired and new ones cannot be issued.

More than 200 Windward Oahu residents, Hawaiian activists and others blocked the entrance to Ahupuaa o Kahana State Park at dawn to protest the actions of the state.

Rep. Colleen Meyer (R, Laie-Kahuku) said she spoke with Thielen throughout the weekend to try to come up with an amicable solution for all parties.

“;As strongly as I could put it, (I said) this was a very big mistake to do this and that they should just slow down or stop,”; Meyer said of her talks with Thielen. “;She said, 'Well, we can slow down.'”;

She said she last spoke with Thielen on Sunday.

“;My last communication with her was to - even in the short term - don't look at moving these people off until after the holidays if you have to,”; Meyer said. “;I think we need to look at the whole living park and the statutes that created it and the leases. We have to look at it in a holistic way and see how that can be improved and made workable.”;

The department had told the six families on June 20 that they would have to leave the park because their leases had expired 13 years ago and the attorney general's office said new leases cannot be issued.

Protesters lined the valley side of Kamehameha Highway, holding Hawaiian flags and signs that read “;Stop the evictions”; and “;Keep Hawaiian lands in Hawaiian hands.”;

Meyer said the department was going to send officials to the valley today just to inspect the house lots.

Meyer said Thielen was willing to meet not only with the six families, but with other residents of the valley. However, Thielen was concerned about letting the talks go on too long.

Meyer said her concern is that this problem has been festering since the leases expired, and she was wondering why the state was moving to evict the families at this point.

Deborah Ward, DLNR spokeswoman, declined to comment on Meyer's statement.

Ervin Kahala, one of the people to be evicted, said residents were not willing “;to let down our guard.”;

“;We're not just fighting for the six families, but for the Hawaiian families all over the island,”; Kahala said.

He walked up and down the line of demonstrators telling them that if the police or other officials showed up, “;Don't fight. Kill them with our kindness.

“;Just be humble. Look strong.”;

Kahala said he was living on one of the 31 house lots that were originally allowed by the state. He said he spent money on improvements in anticipation that eventually he would get a long-term lease. But that never materialized.

In 1987, following several high-profile demonstrations, the state issued 31 permits for private homes for families who had been living in the valley before the state bought the valley in 1970 to preserve the ahupuaa, but the authority to issue new permits ended July 1, 1993.