Grove Farm: Koloa Camp tenants ‘are going to move on’

KOLOA — Two days after its final, Easter Sunday deadline to vacate, Grove Farm Co. on April 10, under the name Haupu Land Co. LLC, filed an eviction suit against three of its five remaining Koloa Camp tenants.

“There are still families there, that’s true, but they are going to move on,” Grove Farm Vice President Marissa Sandblom said April 14. “We remain in contact with all of our tenants … We’ve continued to communicate with them. Dave (Hinazumi, Grove Farm project manager and assistant secretary) has worked tirelessly with them from the beginning.”

Tenants Doreen Jacintho, Gregory Manintin (et al) and John Kruse have been summoned to appear before a district court judge April 30.

“We have served complaints with some of our tenants as there are legal measures that we need to take in order to ensure our agreements are respected,” Sandblom said.

“We have reached resolution with all our tenants on certain issues,” she said in a follow-up email Wednesday. “And with regard to our filing of complaints, there are legal measures that we need to take in order to ensure that our agreements are respected.”

Grove Farm, a land management and community develop company owned by AOL co-founder Stephen Case, delivered 120-day eviction notices to its tenants of the historic plantation-era camp in November in preparation for the company’s plan to erect 50 new, prefabricated houses on the 12-acre site.

It later extended the move-out date by 30 days to allow its tenants more time to find alternative housing, Sandblom said.

“We have reached agreements with three of them regarding remaining on the premises until their next rental can become available,” she said Saturday, adding that the other two tenants have told Grove Farm that they are seeking but have not yet found alternative housing.

“We understand the challenge (of moving),” Sandblom said, adding that some tenants have paid no rent, while most have been renting well-below-market rates for decades.

“Our rents ranged from $0 to $1,000 per month,” she said. “To keep that in perspective, the county’s affordable rental project, Pa‘anau Village, has its one-bedroom unit starting at, I believe, $650 per month. More than half our renters were paying $575 or below each month for their rental homes.”

Sandblom said Grove Farm had hoped tenants would respect the deadline to move out of Koloa Camp and work with Grove Farm staff if a little more time is needed.

“We offered $3,000 to help with moving expenses, if they cooperate,” Sandblom said. “At this point, not everyone has taken advantage of our offer to assist them with move out expenses, although that may change.”

She did not respond to questions concerning how many tenants have received the $3,000 move-out incentive from Grove Farm or whether or not the remaining five tenants still qualify for such assistance.

“It’s very unusual for a landlord to assist to this degree,” she said. When asked approximately how much time and money Grove Farm has spent on the relocation of its tenants, she said it would be difficult to quantify.

She said the three tenants who have left include a renter of 50 years with direct ties to Koloa Sugar plantation, who relocated to Pa‘anau Village Phase I, an affordable apartment housing development in Koloa. One tenant has moved to a Grove Farm rental home in Kapaia, she said, and the other moved out immediately after Grove Farm sent out its 120-day notices of eviction in November.

In the meantime, Sandblom said, there is no truth to the rumor that the company will be erecting a fence around the property to lock people out.

“We do have a security team that checks on various areas of our property throughout the day; however, at this time, we do not have plans to erect a fence around the property,” she said.

“We are working with the State Historic Preservation Division to determine what the best course of action will be with regard to the existing structures.”

• Vanessa Van Voorhis, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681, ext. 251, or by emailing vvanvoorhis@thegardenisland.com.

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