Editor’s note: This commentary piece was submitted by the co-authors listed at the end.
In recent weeks, there has been misleading and inaccurate information circulating about the Meheula Vista senior affordable rental housing project, mainly by CARE Mililani, which opposes the proposal and wrongly claims that several neighborhood board members do not support their community.
It is important to understand that the City Council and the Hawaii Housing and Finance Development Corp. look extremely favorably upon affordable rental housing projects — not only senior affordable projects, but all affordable projects. In fact, as Councilman Ernie Martin stated at the March meeting of our Mililani Mauka/Lauanani Valley neighborhood board: "The City Council has never denied a 201H affordable project application in its history."
Given that this project will, in all likelihood, receive City Council approval, it better serves our community strategically to conditionally support it. Such a strategic measure means that the Council would need to address concerns such as traffic safety, occupancy requirements and parking before granting approval for this project.
We also recognize the critical need for senior affordable housing. This project supports our kupuna who have worked hard for many years to make our communities better places to live. We believe that being opposed to helping our seniors is not pono.
Meheula Vista is proposed on property that has been available for commercial use since 1998. But the fact is that only one commercial business exists there: a self-storage facility owned and operated by the original developer, Castle & Cooke. While we had hoped that more businesses would be established there, that time has come and gone.
We have long supported the Oahu Arts Center (OAC) in its goal of obtaining public funds for design and planning of a performing arts center in our community. But the fact is that after seven years, OAC lacks the financial ability to build a center and its agreement with Castle & Cooke has been terminated. Although there have been many claims and accusations of broken promises, the fact that OAC has not taken any legal action to date indicates to us that its arrangement has ended and it is time to move on.
None of us have any affiliations with Meheula Vista’s proposed builder GSF LLC, Castle & Cooke, Catholic Charities or any other organization involved with developing this project; any statements to the contrary are a complete falsehood. We are unpaid elected community service volunteers and our record shows that we support responsible development in our community.
City Councilmen Martin and Romy Cachola proclaimed that "modifications to the project … swayed a majority of the neighborhood board members to approve the plan … "
To be clear: We were never swayed by political aspirations or any backdoor politics, but actually voted to conditionally support the project as a matter of strategically defending our community’s best interests.
This was submitted by Mililani Mauka/Lauanani Valley Neighborhood Board members Dana Agader, Luella Costales, Dean Hazama, Stanton Oishi, Alan Suwa and Lance Yoshimura.