Lahaina Apartments

Do the ‘humane thing’ (April 3, 2018)

Thanks for your coverage of the Front Street Apartment tenants’ fight against the eviction (“Will Lawmakers Help These Low-Income Tenants Stay In Their Lahaina Homes?”).

It’s important to note that Front Street Affordable Housing Partners attorney William Meyers assertion of the price that will be paid is just that — an assertion. Once Senate Bill 2293 is passed authorizing state housing officials to negotiate with the Partners, then state housing officials and other interested parties will be able to scrutinize the Partners’ figures and develop their own.

Also, although the state mentions its development of Leialii, state housing spokesman Kent Miyasaki has told me in the past there is no guarantee that evicted Front Street Apartment tenants will be the first on the list and that there is already a list they’ll have to get on.

The broader issue is accountability and doing the humane thing. Public investment in Front Street Apartments has totaled more than $40 million — $15.6 million in state and federal tax credits, an estimateed $6 million in county tax exemptions and waivers, and more than $20 million in tenants’ rents and subsidies. In comparison, the building developer took out a loan of $17 million to build the complex.

— Gary T. Kubota, Volunteer Liaison, Front Street Apartment Tenants Group, Maui Meadows

Elderly with no place to go (April 3, 2018)

I am one of the 250-plus tenants at the Front Street Apartment complex in Lahaina. I moved into an apartment years ago with the assurance that the apartments would remain affordable until 2050 when I will be 108 years old and most likely ashes scattered to the wind, which is my wish.

Now, at the age of 76 years, I’m being threatened with eviction with no place to go and am too old to live “homeless” on the streets of Lahaina.

Mahalo nui loa for publishing this article. We tenants are so concerned. Tenants include families with school-age children, general working adults, seniors, veterans and such. We have all contributed many years of working hours to Lahaina and Maui and are so happy to live here.

Front Street in Lahaina. A local apartment complex is the focus of a fight over evictions. Flickr: Matt McGee

We have formed a community at FSA in which we support and help one another and are good neighbors. Any affordable housing in West Maui has waiting lists of many years, so where do we go upon eviction by owners who care very little about the folks who live here and work to support the community?

We tenants have been given no written notice of the change by the owners to “market rate rents.” All communication is by word of mouth, gossip. If the complex is allowed to go to market rate rents, all rents, will be doubled, making it unaffordable to most of us to be able to stay here legally.

Is the town of Lahaina ready for an additional 250-plus folks to become homeless and live on the streets and beaches of this little town? Unless we get help with this issue, this may be our death knell and it is definitely a scary proposition.

I greatly appreciate your article and whatever more can be done to publicly sound out our issue. We are becoming more and more desperate as time evaporates and the “gossiped” time of August 2019 arrives for either eviction of tenants or forcing tenants to pay double rents.

Mahalo nui loa for listening and for caring.

— Chi Pilialoha Guyer, Lahaina

Hilo Farmers’ Market

Beware unintended consequences (March 31, 2018)

Auwe! No aloha for the vendors at the Hilo Farmer’s Market! (“Big Island: Vendors Are Dripping In Hilo As Farmers’ Market Weathers Political Storm”).

The current dispute at the iconic venue in Downtown Hilo may have unintended consequences for vendors who have been there for decades or are trying to launch a new business venture where start-up costs are more affordable than a true brick and mortar retail.

My main concern is that the unintended consequences of this political football fiasco may result three things that will change the face of the area:

  1. a drop in income for both the manager and the vendors 
  2. reduce the visibility of the venue as a  tourist attraction in the downtown area
  3. and finally, it would do a huge disservice to vendors, tourists, and the people of Hilo, who in many cases, would not be able to afford fruits and vegetables for their families.

This could have been done in phases, without demands and finger-pointing. Shame on our county government!

— Marlene Kufrovich, Hilo

Greenhouse Gas Confusion

We are all connected to each other (April 2, 2018)

Henry Curtis’ op-ed on consumer-based accounting for greenhouse gas emissions is spot-on (“Relevant Info Needed To Respond To Climate Change”).

We are an island state that imports most of the energy, food, raw materials, and final products we consume and use, and then we import tourists to spend money to pay for it. We take pride in our adoption of renewable energy and electric vehicles, but that discounts the almost complete outsourcing of our consumption-based emissions.

This practical lesson in climate change reveals deeper moral lessons that people of faith have understood for millennia: we are all connected to each other; our choices have consequences large and small, near and far; and we have a responsibility to act for the good not just of ourselves but also our community, to future generations, and to the gifts of Creation for which we are stewards.

Climate change reveals the truth of these lessons, and it has brought together scientists and citizens concerned about the health and well-being of people and the planet. We at Hawaii Interfaith Power and Light urge our communities of faith to share their voices and their spiritual lessons to help bring about a just, equitable and sustainable future for all.

— Travis Idol, President, Hawaii Interfaith Power and Light, Honolulu

John Bolton At NSA

We should all be alarmed (April 2, 2018)

The article on President Trump edging toward the unthinkable raises a vital concern for all of us (“Trump Is Edging Toward The Unthinkable”).

Three questions come to my mind:

  1. Will military leaders respond to such ongoing dangerous, inept decisions by this president?
  2. How should they react when our armed forces personnel and our nation are threatened by reckless policies?
  3. If they refused to obey a harmful order, would it set a precedent that could lead to military takeover in the future?

The answers are complex and not easy to answer. However, if the history of other countries are an indication, then the third question would lead to a yes in my personal opinion.

One thing is certain, we all should be alarmed. Let’s face it. Trump promised to drain the swamp and now we have a cesspool of inexperienced, foolish hardliners.

An ancient proverb is relevant here: fear an ignorant man more than a lion. Unfortunately, too many people are still asleep to the dangers. There are no easy answers.

One thing we can do, however, is to keep speaking out, honestly and humbly for positive changes. But we must avoid the tribal mentality of us against them and communicate in a civil manner.

As an independent thinker, I also advocate and encourage a bipartisan approach to this issue. This is not political. It is an urgent concern for every citizen that wants to protect our democracy.

— Steven S. Foster, Kamuela

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