'We're losing our lifestyle'


POSTED: Sunday, May 03, 2009

Eddie Solmirin said he will miss the family parties near a stream that meanders through avocado, calamungai, lychee, sour sap and noni trees in Waiawa — part of an area to be demolished to make way for a 20-mile rail transit system between Kapolei and Ala Moana.

; “;We're losing our lifestyle,”; he said. “;How is the city going to treat us fairly? My mother planted those trees.”;

As Honolulu city officials move forward with plans to purchase properties in an area known as “;Banana Patch,”; residents living in a cluster of 10 houses are hoping they'll be adequately compensated for the loss of their enclave.

Mayor Mufi Hannemann said city officials were in discussion with residents about relocation.

“;It's our part, our responsibility, to let them know that the city will take care of them,”; Hannemann said at a recent news conference.

Surveyors visited the area last month to determine boundary lines prior to estimating the value of the parcels, residents said.

The city plans to use the land between Pearl City and Waipahu as a park-and-ride facility for the transit corridor.

The 11-acre slice of land, at Farrington and Kamehameha highways, includes an equipment storage area and a patch of green where several families live in a duplex and a cluster of homes, some built more than 50 years ago.

While the Waiawa community has survived development until now, there is the constant sound of cars rushing by on the nearby freeway and multi-lane highways between Pearl City and Waipahu.

The nearest neighbors are about a half-mile away.

“;In the old days, you could fire a gun for practice in the back yard,”; Solmirin said.

The family still draws its drinking water from a pump connected to an artesian well.

Six of the 10 houses on a 1-acre parcel are owned by families related to Solmirin, and they have frequent parties on the weekends to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries and graduations, sometimes roasting a pig on a spit.

The residents are aware that with the deepening recession, property prices have been dropping and they may face depressed valuations for their parcels.

Solmirin's uncle, Sam Alipio, a landowner in the Waiawa area designated for relocation, said the city hasn't made any offers yet.

Alipio said he just wants to make sure he's adequately compensated.

Solmirin agrees.

“;It's how fair they're going to be for us,”; Solmirin said.