Kailua residents worry about city's plan to sell land on Kalaheo Hillside

Published: Sep. 10, 2015 at 1:48 AM HST|Updated: Sep. 10, 2015 at 2:00 AM HST
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KAILUA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - By: Jim Mendoza

The city has owned a ten-acre parcel of land above Iliaina Street in Kailua since 1961. Originally the Department of Education was going to build an elementary school on the site. But that idea died. The undeveloped land along Kalaheo Hillside is zoned residential and is now on the city's surplus list.

"The city looks at its inventory periodically. We send out a circular to all the departments to see if any of the departments actually have a use for the property today or in the future," said Budget and Fiscal Services Deputy Director Gary Kurokawa.

Wednesday he presented the city's plan to sell the property. City Councilman Ikaika Anderson said if a developer builds homes, the city could determine how many would be affordable.

"This could be a game changer in the affordable housing area if in fact the residents are open to that," he said.  "But ultimately it's going to be the residents in the area who drive this discussion."

But homeowners below the hillside worry development would damage their properties, add to traffic, and overload infrastructure.

"Every home on Kalaheo Hillside has had slippage problems. They've had cracking of their foundations, " Kailua Neighborhood Board Member Gary Weller said.

"We don't believe the sewer, the water, the power was designed to accommodate another 50 to 60 homes" said Matt Darnell, president of the Kalaheo Hillside Residents Association.

Kurokawa said the developer would have to address those concerns.

"I think the city requires all bidders to be aware of what they're buying," he said. "They need to go out and check things like infrastructure, sewer and soils for their own purposes."

The land butts up against the Kailua Assembly of God church. Pastor Dan Preciado said he prefers not to envision a subdivision next door.

"If our politicians and our city officials are determined then I guess we can envision that. It would just be a bad vision," he said.

The city wants to sell the property under sealed bid. Bidding would start at $10,455,000.

"There's a lot of unknowns here. And that's what's really got the community afraid," Darnell said.

The city says selling the property will reduce the city's liability and maintenance costs, put the vacant parcel to productive use, and generate revenue.

It's started the process to see if there's enough support to put the parcel on the auction block.

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