Date-Laau residents discuss concerns over Iolani school's expansion plans

Date-Laau residents discuss concerns over Iolani school's expansion plans
Laura Horigan
Laura Horigan

By Mari-Ela David - bio | email

MOILIILI (HAWAII NEWS NOW) - Iolani School is trying to calm its neighbors' fears, many of them are elderly and low income residents who worry the school's expansion could leave them homeless.

On Monday night, Iolani Spokesperson, Cathy Lee Chong, showed up at a town hall meeting that the Date-Laau community held, but residents politely asked her not to come inside.

However, Chong did stay outside to address concerns.

Her main message - Iolani will not drastically raise rents.

About 85 people were at the town hall meeting at the Ala Wai Elementary School Cafeteria.

Many fear that Iolani will shatter the affordable character of their 50-year-old community, once the lease is up in 2012.

Iolani says it is honoring leases until then.

Chong says it will take generations to develop the area, so most residents will be allowed to stay after the lease expires.

But after Decemeber of 2012, the school will implement comparable market rate rents.

"Based on units that are comparable to units in similar areas and similar conditions. They won't be compared to fancy luxury brand new units. It will be very fair," said Chong.

"I just looked in the newspaper and see that right now even studios in this neighborhood are $800 $900 so that would be a real hardship," said Laura Horigan, a Date-Laau resident who has paid off the mortgage on her studio, and only pays about $360 a month in maintenance fees.

"What upsets everyone most about this is Lim Kip Yee Ltd. sold the land without telling anybody," said Brien Hallett, a Date-Laau resident.

Between 2003 to 2005, the Date-Laau community was in negotiations with Lim Kip Yee to buy the land, but in the end, residents were told no.

This past June, Iolani announced it bought the 5.5 acre property for $23 million so it can expand its campus.

At the meeting, residents decided to take action.

They voted on three options: file a lawsuit to void the sale, urge Iolani to give residents money to help them move out, or urge the school to keep rent affordable.

The vote was a tie between suing and asking Iolani for help with moving costs.

The various apartment building boards are now making plans to flesh out a strategy.