Families living at Courtyards need support now

Thank you for allowing me to share my concerns not only for myself, but for an entire community of 82 families living at Courtyards at Waipouli (next to Kintaro Restaurant). We are local people — seniors, families with children, and working people, including visitor-industry workers, a Kauai Bus driver, a manager at a local grocery store and self-employed business owners. We are in jeopardy of losing our homes sometime this year.

I am a local girl born and raised on Hawaii Island. (I am not the Jody Kono born and raised on Kauai). I moved to Kauai in 2014 and lived in Princeville right down the street from where I worked. The first year on the North Shore felt like I had stepped back into the time of my upbringing on the Big Island. It was quiet and serene — until the condominium project I lived in started turning into vacation rentals.

I moved to a rental in beautiful Kalaheo but it was too far from where I worked. A friend helped me find an apartment at Courtyards at Waipouli, where I live today.

I recently learned that this entire complex is up for sale with the option of turning it into visitor units. Not only was my heart saddened, but a part of me was very angry that our government would allow this to happen when locals have nowhere to live. I later learned that Courtyards at Waipouli was required to be affordable for 10 years in exchange for resort zoning for the luxury condos at Hokuala above the Marriott Resort in Nawiliwili, and the 10 years are up this year in August.

Under the agreement between the county and the owner of Courtyards, the county presently has the exclusive right to purchase the property. To the owner’s credit, he has offered to sell Courtyards to the county several times over the last 10 years.

Under the agreement between the county and the owner, the county now has the right to negotiate the fair market value of Courtyards and buy it at whatever that value is determined to be according to procedures outlined in the agreement. The governor and the state of Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corporation have shown an interest in helping to purchase Courtyards, but they need the county leaders to show support for public acquisition of Courtyards.

Two weeks ago, a councilmember contacted me to let me know that at the council meeting on March 13 he was going to introduce a resolution urging HHFDC to purchase Courtyards. He knew that we residents wanted to ask the council for help. Last week I reached out to all residents here at the Courtyards of Waipouli. In my letter to residents I asked for the people of this aina to come forward on March 13 to show their visible support. There was hope.

To my surprise, I learned this past Tuesday that the resolution was not being placed on the agenda for March 13.

My heart sank. How were our voices going to be heard? How could we find out who truly supports us? For Courtyards to be purchased by the county or state, we need our leaders’ support. We need a resolution from the County Council and a letter of support from the mayor. A supportive resolution from the state Senate and House would also show that our leaders are not willing to stand by and allow their people to be thrown into the streets.

As I have stated to many of our public servants, this is not just about me having a place to live. It’s about the bigger picture of what’s happening in our entire state. It’s sad to see that more support and attention is being paid to tourism and the people with money than to local residents. What about the people who live and work here? If we cannot afford to live here, who’s going to do the work? Our unemployment is at a record low — what happens when people have to leave because they have nowhere to live?

I don’t know much about politics, but I do know what is right, and it’s time for us to demand our rights. As people of this land, we must have some priority. On several occasions, several people from the political arena have advised us not to make waves and not to upset people, but the clock is ticking. Does anybody care about us and our upset if we lose our homes? It is time to speak. Saving Courtyards is not only about us who live at Courtyards at Waipouli. It is about all of us standing strong for our home called Hawaii. To all of us who live here: it is time to speak with a clear voice from our hearts to not allow ourselves to become extinct in our own homeland.

•••

Jody Kono is a resident of Courtyards at Waipouli.

15 Comments
  1. Jake March 15, 2019 2:50 am Reply

    While I sympathize, …..turning to Government to solve your problems is not an efficient use of your time.

    You lived your entire life on these beautiful islands,….islands that have the highest cost of living for much of the world, and have been scraping by, and now the rent is going up, then you should strongly consider moving off the islands where the cost of living is much cheaper. Sell you stuff, buy the ticket, and move some where that housing is affordable. It takes effort, but everything does that is worthwhile.

    Your plight is with free market / capitalism, and now you want the government to fix the problem.

    A resolution for the State to buy the apartment complex is code for , “We are going take taxes earmarked for infrastructure projects, and use them to buy an apartment complex so the renters can maintain their desired level of rent”.

    Taking tax dollars (code for “other people’s money”) and using it to buy affordable housing, is NOT Leadership. It is called pandering, and takes no effort from a government official.

    Stop the madness.


  2. Blue Dream March 15, 2019 7:07 am Reply

    You are 400 miles from being a local Judy. You are from the Big Island. You need to go back. Too many Big Island people coming here talking too much and acting like they own Kauai.


  3. james March 15, 2019 7:28 am Reply

    I don’t understand why you feel the County should spend our tax dollars to purchase this complex. You do not have a right to live on Kauai. Others have to find their own housing using their own money. Why should you be given special treatment? Tax money should be used to repair our roads and infrastructure, protect the environment, and other uses that benefit all of it’s citizens, not just a select few who are looking for a hand-out.


  4. Makani B. Howard March 15, 2019 9:58 am Reply

    I am sorry you find yourself in this situation. The government should follow thru and buy this. They are always talking about affordable housing and this is sitting right in front of them to purchase! But , no, they want to build so someone in their “circle” can line their pockets!


  5. Joe Public March 15, 2019 11:11 am Reply

    I do not want to see my tax monies spent in this manner. I had to work multiple jobs to get a home, and did it without whining or looking for a handout.

    Get another job, or move back to where you came from.


  6. Shannon March 15, 2019 12:13 pm Reply

    When we were young and first got married we could not afford to live in the area we grew up in. We had to move away to a more affordable location. In Kauai’s case that could mean you should move back to the Big Island which is cheaper or even to another area of the island. This can happen anywhere in the US . Someone has the right to sell or use their property as they want as long as it’s zoned for it. If you were the owner then you could decide. But to ask other taxpayers to bail you out at their expense because you want to keep living there is ridiculous.


  7. genius March 15, 2019 11:38 pm Reply

    here’s an idea, all 82 families put their coins together and buy some land at fair market value, build your own living complex and all live happily ever after.


  8. Stephanie March 16, 2019 10:52 am Reply

    Not many like to talk politics but this is a prime example of how a democratically ran state operates. Tourism is a huge percentage of the island’s income which brings in a very pretty penny yet what is our minimum wage? A lot of locals like to blame the tourist but who needs the blame is our government and our local council members who don’t put the community’s first. With our new mayor’s proposal for housing plans, every resident at the Courtyards should be knocking on his office door asking for support! Not to mention the landlords who own residential, commercial and agricultural land way over charge! How can the cost of living be so high yet our minimum wage and average medium income can’t afford to live here? It’s time to make a change and challenge our state officials it all starts with your vote whether anyone likes to believe it or not we need to vote for a change vote vote vote!


  9. Harry Potter March 16, 2019 7:51 pm Reply

    …Maybe tourists are not paying enough for the privilege of crowding Kauai’s highways, beaches, and overall infrastructure. This is a premium island, after all—indeed!—, and maybe tourists should pay MORE for the exquisite scenery, and as compensation for their footprint and inconvenience to locals.

    …Maybe we should set an airport tax, like a $20-$50 premium per tourist—since we know precisely how many visitors come in thanks to declaration forms—to pay for the services and infrastructure they regularly use and consume, such as our roads, beaches, lifeguards, etc., and as compensation for the rise in rents due to local housing turned vacation rentals (as well as finance the construction of affordable housing), the raising of the price of basic commodities (more demand = higher prices), not to mention the *emotional labor* of Aloha they have come to expect from locals.

    …Maybe business and property owners—capital—are also getting much too great a share of the tourism income, at the expense of labor! Maybe the county should set the minimum wage to $20 and tax businesses more, as well as crack down harder on illegal vacation rentals.

    … Maybe the influx of tourists should benefit the many who live here, rather than the few.


    1. Jake April 6, 2019 9:01 am Reply

      I take it you are 100% Native Hawaiian and have generations of family living on the islands.

      The “privilege” of visiting this island???? I like people with the 3rd Grade mentality “But, I as here FIRST”!!

      Maybe you need to get off this rock and visit the rest of the world. There are thousands of islands in the Caribbean that offer all the same things. You will quickly kill Tourism, which is the ONLY industry supporting the people on the islands. Back to Grass Huts and fishing with spears.


  10. Editor in Chief March 16, 2019 8:11 pm Reply

    title should read “Derelicts Living at Courtyards Need Hand-Outs Now”


  11. Stanley wolshin March 17, 2019 7:01 pm Reply

    County/ State finally? Someday? MAYBE🥴collecting G. E. Tax and all Taxes from the MULTITUDE of Multi-Billion $on-Line Travel Monopolies will provide Revenue to Acquire Local Housing Units, Pay Teachers n Provide Infrastructure for Community.


  12. vig March 19, 2019 10:41 pm Reply

    The mean spirit of these comments is really sad. Affordable housing is not a handout. The handout was to the developer – who got a sweetheart deal to use the very valuable land of Kauai. In exchange, the developer provided affordable housing. But the county screwed up and negotiated only 10 years of affordable housing. Everyone with money on Kauai is really going to cry when workers can’t afford to live here at all and no one is around to clean their houses or cook their food.


    1. Jake April 6, 2019 8:57 am Reply

      Affordable Housing is a “hand out”. I know that stings….

      Tax dollars that could have been used to benefit everyone (roads, public bathrooms, updating landscaping, lowering the property taxes) is instead used to supplement those that have no business living in the highest cost of living area in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.


  13. Harry Potter March 21, 2019 8:19 pm Reply

    …Maybe predatory conservatives—a prickly minority on Kauai, fortunately, though often overrepresented in comments—should move in with their furry relatives on Lehua Island. More room for humans.


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