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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Friday, December 14, 2001

Homestead land being trashed, Anahola residents say

By Jan TenBruggencate
Advertiser Kaua‘i Bureau

State officials met with Anahola lessees yesterday to discuss the dumping of junked cars and other trash on Hawaiian Home Lands. Officials said that more than a cleanup is needed — it will take an information campaign to prevent future dumping.

Jan TenBruggencate • The Honolulu AdvertiserNT>

ANAHOLA, Kaua'i — The hundreds of junked cars around this Hawaiian homestead community come in just about every possible configuration.

You can find them piled on top of old refrigerators, resting upside-down or on their sides, engine-free, transmissions gone, wheels on and wheels off, windows shattered.

They lie among broken bags of household trash, old plastic toys, appliances and other cast-offs.

Homesteaders want something done about it. They met Wednesday with officials from the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, the state Department of Health and the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.

Homesteader James Torio led the contingent into an abandoned Lihu'e Plantation cane field where dozens of junked cars and trucks lay.

"We're all concerned. It's shocking," said homesteader LaFrance Kapaka.

She got aerial photos taken and counted cars. She stopped counting at 800.

The issue is not only cleaning up the mess, it's going after the people who dumped the trash and the cars, and convincing people not to do it anymore.

"We need to cite people. You can't just clean it up. They'll come right back," Kapaka said.

Some of the debris is on land under direct DHHL control, some is on Hawaiian leaseholders' land, and a great deal is on DHHL property still under lease to Lihu'e Plantation, which went out of the sugar business last year.

The plantation's lease of 3,111 acres of Hawaiian homelands continues through the end of 2002.

DHHL and plantation owner Amfac/JMB are negotiating the terms of the lease surrender, said department land agent Noel Akamu.

The state is working to ensure that the wrecked cars and other trash are removed by Amfac before the lease is turned over.

Kapaka said the department should be ready to turn over the acreage to someone else immediately, since it lacks the staff to prevent more dumping. She said there is a real urgency because of the area's recent wildfires, which firefighters believe were set by an arsonist.

One fire burned an estimated 1,300 acres, she said, and some of the junked cars explode as the fires rush through.

The situation points up the need to deal with both the junk and the hundreds of acres of unmaintained brush and grassland, she said.

"It could be converted to community pasturage. Then the community will look out for it," she said.

Akamu was not prepared to predict how the land will be used after the plantation gives it up.

Meanwhile, the department is working with the county and contractors to develop a plan for the cleanup of junked vehicles on other DHHL land.

Reach Jan TenBruggencate at jtenbruggencate@honoluluadvertiser.com or (808) 245-3074 .