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Thursday, March 16, 2000

Residents say
Princeville Corp.
should build homes

By Anthony Sommer


LIHUE -- Several dozen north shore Kauai residents urged the County Council yesterday to hold the Princeville Corp. to a 1988 agreement to build 100 houses or apartments for working families.

Princeville Corp. is asking the county to allow it to trade $1.2 million worth of park land to the county in exchange for being released from the agreement. The company cannot proceed with plans to add 10 acres to its existing shopping center until the matter is resolved.

Mike Loo, Princeville Corp. development manager, said several previous efforts to provide housing for corporation employees have met with little enthusiasm from the workers. The most recent was a housing project in Kilauea, where only a few Princeville employees bought homes even though they had first choice, Loo said.

But numerous speakers accused Princeville Corp. of misrepresenting the 1988 agreement by repeatedly referring to housing for its employees. The county ordinance states the housing is for people who work "in" Princeville, not "for" Princeville, which would include a much larger number of people.

The entire island of Kauai is undergoing a boom in house and condo sales and many long-term rental units are being converted into vacation rentals.

"We don't have an acute shortage of housing in Princeville, we have an acute shortage of residential housing," said attorney Walter Lewis. "A large share of our housing is preempted for rentals by tourists."

The same is true all along the north shore, where many small communities "have become nothing more than extended hotels," speakers said.

Hanalei activist Ray Chuan said the half acre of land Princeville Corp. wants to swap with the county is not part of Black Pot Park, as the company claims, but a separate parcel on the river that's often underwater at high tide.

The issue was sent to a council committee and a study of housing needs appears likely.

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