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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Kahuku Village dwellers fear loss of homes

By Eloise Aguiar
Advertiser Windward O'ahu Writer

KAHUKU Kahuku Village residents who fear they may lose their homes are urging the City Council to adopt resolutions to condemn the land under their houses to keep them affordable.

The landowner said it was working with a buyer to keep them affordable, but that the introduction of the resolutions killed negotiations.

The Estate of James Campbell owns about 1,800 acres in Kahuku and has been selling it off in anticipation of the trust dissolving. Under one proposed resolution before the council, the Kahuku Village and the Kahuku Golf Course lands about 200 acres with 70 homes would be purchased through condemnation.

The Campbell Estate opposes the resolution, as well as another to designate the Campbell land as historic sites or for government buildings.

Members of the City Council met in Kahuku yesterday to provide information about the five resolutions and other issues before the council. Voting on the resolutions will take place at a later date.

Warren Soh, a Ko'olauloa Neighborhood Board member and Kahuku resident, said people are afraid they will lose their homes if a private developer purchases the land.

"If the resolution passes, then they would have a better chance, because right now there's little chance," Soh said after the meeting. "If a developer comes in, the homes won't be at an affordable rate. We would lose the golf course, too."

But Campbell spokeswoman Theresia McMurdo said the estate was working for the benefit of the residents and had found a buyer willing to keep prices affordable. But once the resolutions were introduced, the buyer backed out, McMurdo said.

"If they had let (the negotiation) run its course, they would have achieved the goal of the residents without spending city funds," she said. "Now we have to start all over again."

Councilman Donovan Dela Cruz, 2nd District (Wahiawa, North Shore, 'Ahuimanu), said the residents are confused and worried. They heard the worst that could happen would be eviction and the golf course closing at the end of the year, he said, and with the estate having to sell the land, residents felt they had nowhere to turn.

"Unless someone steps in and says we're going to help you keep your home, the reality is ugly," Dela Cruz said.

One of the resolutions calls for the state to condemn the residential land and place it under the Housing and Community Development Corp. of Hawai'i and the state Department of Land and Natural Resources. Another has to do with planning the condemnation.

Bill Brennan, a spokesman for the city, said Mayor Mufi Hannemann's administration is not opposed to these actions. But no money to buy the land was placed in the budget that is now before the council, Brennan said, adding that it would be up to the council to include that money in the budget.

"The administration would be willing to discuss the purchase if the council were to put money in the budget," he said.

Reach Eloise Aguiar at eaguiar@honoluluadvertiser.com.