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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Tuesday, December 31, 2002

Taking property isn't right

By Adrian K. Kamali'i

Stephany L. Sofos, president of S.L. Sofos & Co., perceives that the City Council's judgment of condemning three O'ahu properties was a just decision. I strongly disagree.

Sofos denotes the issue of oligopolies. However, if the City Council were to commission a committee to seek an oligopoly of condominium landowners, the truth would be that there are none. This in turn would make Chapter 38 obsolete.

She implies that both the Damon and Campbell estates are doing well because of ridding their portfolios of leasehold lands. While those estates may have done well with selling off their leasehold lands, Sofos fails to mention that both estates will terminate after a certain period. These estates are not perpetual trusts like Kamehameha Schools.

What boggles my mind is the validity of a contract. In Kamehameha's case, its contract specifically notes that Kamehameha shall maintain the fee of the property. These lessees clearly knew that they had a lease, much like a tenant would who rented an apartment or home.

Sofos mentions that this is an emotional issue for Native Hawaiians. This would be an emotional issue for anyone whose land is being forcefully taken by the power of an abused law, would it not? Native Hawaiians are worn out by the continual attacks upon us.

Kamehameha Schools' students were not forced to attend the happenings at the City Council. Permission forms were sent home notifying the parents of what may take place, and students were well informed of the situation. I am puzzled by the degrading comments that have been made by those who seem somewhat disturbed by the recent involvement of Hawaiians and Hawaiian cultural organizations to the leasehold issue. It always seems that when Hawaiians exert their native identity, in this case protection of our 'aina, we are made out to be the enemy.

Sofos says landowners would receive market value for their condemned property. Should the transaction occur, landowners might not lose money; however, they are losing something even more precious a resource: their land.

Sofos misses the point of landowners, large or small. Their land is not for sale. Let's end government intervention in land ownership.

Adrian K. Kamali'i, Kamehameha Schools Class of 2000, is the president and chief executive officer of Hui Ho'oulu Inc., an educational firm.