Hawaii Senate & Koloa Camp

SUBHEAD: Senate resolution attempts to give Koloa Camp tenants a stay of eviction.  

By Vanessa Van Voorhis on 2 March 2012 for The Garden Island - 

Image above: View down the road in Koloa Camp. The way Kauai used to be. See poem below "Eviction Notice" by Rhiannon. From (http://collectionsfrommyheart.blogspot.com/2012/01/eviction-notice.html).

 Hawaii State Senate passed a resolution Friday urging Grove Farm Company to place an immediate stay of eviction and engage in meaningful formal discussions with the 13 tenants of historic Koloa Camp, who are scheduled to be evicted by the company on March 8 to make way for a 50-unit housing development called Waihohonu.

The purpose and intent of the measure is to urge Grove Farm to allow Koloa Camp tenants to remain on the property past the eviction date and assign the tenants affordable housing units once the company’s proposed development project is complete, the measure states.

“We’re just asking Grove Farm to see if there’ s potential to resolve the situation with the tenants,” said Sen. Ronald Kouchi, D-Kaua‘i, Ni‘ihau.

Koloa Camp residents have suggested Grove Farm move its planned 12-acre project to its undeveloped property on the opposite side of Ala Kinoiki (Koloa bypass road).

“It’s zoned ag,” Kouchi said, “but we can help them in that regard. It seems like an interesting opportunity because the project is less than 15 acres, so they can go through county. If it was more than 15 acres, they would have to go through state.”

The resolution was introduced by Kouchi and Sen. Clayton Hee, D-Kahuku, Kane‘ohe.
“Senator Hee talked to me about his concerns and asked if I would sponsor the resolution,” Kouchi said.

Kepa Kruse, son of Koloa Camp resident John Kruse, said Hee was instrumental in getting the resolution passed and giving Koloa Camp “a legislative voice.”

Some camp residents, such as 83-year-old Catherine Fernandez who has lived in Koloa Camp for 57 years, have said they’re not moving despite the March 8 eviction order. Others have said they plan to barricade themselves in their home.

Grove Farm spokeswoman Marissa Sandblom on Friday said in an email that most of the tenants are cooperating and that Grove Farm is working with them toward transitioning elsewhere.

“For the tenants who have taken the initiative to find housing, we have offered to reimburse them for moving expenses up to $3,000,” Sandblom said. “We offered to rent one of our Lihu‘e rental units to multiple Koloa Camp tenants. We are also working with one tenant to move their existing house to another property they own.”

Asked what Grove Farm will do if residents refuse to leave, Sandblom said, “We hope that they honor their agreement with us.”

The resolution will now go to the House for approval.

Eviction Notice By Rhiannon on 7 January 2012 for From the Heart - (http://collectionsfrommyheart.blogspot.com/2012/01/eviction-notice.html)

I grew up in the town of Koloa on the island of Kauai.
I feel very fortunate to be able to have been raised the "old style".
We lived in a Plantation Camp.
Life was simple.
We had no traffic.
We knew EVERYBODY in our town.
(and EVERYBODY knew our parents/grandparents)
We never had to lock our doors. Some of us took a bath in outside bathhouses.
Going outside to play marbles meant we would go to the cane field up the road and dig marbles out of the ground to play with.
Baseball was played with a stick from the mac nut tree and rocks from the road.
The road was (and still isnt) paved. It's a gravel road made out of crushed coral.
We rode our bikes and stuck playing cards or our grandpa's old beer cans to the spokes of our bikes to make loud noises.
We played in our neighbors tree houses and knew it best to be home before it got dark or we would get 'lickens'.
Back in November, Grove Farm notified the last of the residents to live in the camp they had 120 days to vacate as they would be demolishing their homes, their lives, all their memories and making room for development and so called 'affordable housing coming from China. China? Really? We have a struggling local economy and they want to bring in prefab homes from China?

The first article came and this article followed. The neighborhood has received amazing support from the community even more so proving we are an Ohana. This past Sunday Lee Cataluna wrote an article in the Honolulu Star Advertiser posted here. Lee Cataluna's parents lived in this very camp. This neighborhood is where I lived up untill I got married. I spent majority of my life there. 

 I work in the construction industry and so I understand very well the importance of development and new construction. Change is inevitable, I get that. What I don't get is how they are evicting these people whom majority of the residents are elderly, who have never lived anywhere else in their life, who live on very strict and limited incomes to make way for development. Money Hungry. For years the camp has been so called 'shut down' so no new residents could move there. 

 At any point if someone would move out or pass away (which remember these are mostly elderly people) the house would be demolished and the lot left empty or leased for agriculture reasons. (Most lots are used to raise fighting chickens) Why they cannot continue to do this, I have no idea. But Grove Farm has decided in this tough economy they want to develop. 

To read more on the issues surrounding everything please take the time to read this blog post and the website Save Koloa Camp which was created by another lifelong resident and my childhood neighbor Kepa Kruse.
My question to Grove Farm is touched upon in this article written by Lee Cataluna, who's parents as I mentioned were also residents of the camp. And I have to add the photo in the post, that's my grandparents house where my mom lives till today.

The window on the far right was my bedroom I shared with my grandmother.
Grove Farm is proposing this new development and offer affordable homes and the residents that they are evicting will be given first chance at those affordable homes.
Published reports put these affordable homes at around $400,000.
I have two points to make regarding this:

My husband and I got suckered into purchasing 'affordable housing' 6 years ago at the height of the big real estate boom.
We purchased our home for $420,000 and took out a 30 year mortgage for $400,00 at 5.75% interest.
Our monthly mortgage payment is $2,900. 
My husband and I both have very good jobs and it's a struggle to pay our mortgage every month and make ends meet. We tried to refinance our mortgage but we cannot, why?
Because the market has shifted extremely downwards and now our brand new ocean view home is worth only $320,000 on the HIGH side.
So how is it they figure that $400,000 is fair market value of 'affordable housing' pricing? 
The rent that these residents are paying currently is $600 & $700.
The residents there are my mom's age and older up to in their late 80's.
Do they think at their age and income these residents are going to first of all qualify for a mortgage and secondly how are they going to afford it? 
Needless to say, my mom and the other residents of Koloa Camp didnt have a great Thanksgiving or end of the year.
It has been however, very encouraging to see the community come out to show their support. Thankfully my mom does have a plan and a place to move when the time comes.
Until then the residents and community is asking for Grove Farm to find another location for their planned development.
(Grove Farm does only own half the friggen island!!)
Ok, I know its been a long post I hope you've stuck around and read all the way through.
Please do take the time to read all the articles I posted links to and also check out Save Koloa Camp.

See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: Koloa Camp Petition 2/23/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Help Preserve Koloa Camp 2/16/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Losing Lifelong Koloa Homes 12/13/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Saving Koloa Camp 1/8/12


No comments :

Post a Comment