Maili group sues city, developer in bid to stop affordable housing project

Maili residents file lawsuit against the city and developer trying to stop an affordable housing project

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Construction on a $23 million affordable rental project in West Oahu called Hale Makana O Maili started in October.

But neighbors calling themselves Na Kiai O Maili — protectors of Maili — have filed a suit against the city and developer Laulima Development in a bid to stop construction at the end of Kulaaupuni Street.

“Our lawsuit is to get a judge to stop the project to re-look at it,” said Michele Kuahine, neighbor and spokesperson for Na Kiai O Maili.

They claim they were not informed of the project and it’s too big for the infrastructure in the rural community.

"I think just looking in terms of our street, in terms of our sewage, our drainage and traffic. I don't think you need any expertise in that area that this is not responsible development," she said.

The project on three acres of land in Maili calls for 51 units for 200 people.

It includes six buildings, a resource center and a park. Opponents call it a monster development, but developers say their lawsuit is without merit and they’re moving ahead.

“I’m very disappointed, but we’ve looked at the allegations in the complaint and based on the advice of our attorneys that we had to go out and hire, there’s no merit to it,” said Kali Watson, executive director of non-profit Hawaiian Community Development Board, one of three members of Laulima Development.

He says there’s tremendous need for affordable housing, and the project got unanimous approvals by the City Council and two neighborhood boards.

He also said neighbor concerns have already been addressed.

"We think it's right. It's good for the community. It's needed and there's a tremendous need," said Watson.

He says similar a affordable housing project ran into resistance in Nanakuli, but then was accepted by some of the people who opposed it.

The city had no comment. The parties have a court date on Feb. 19.

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