BY JERRY IWATA – On the issue of rail transit, Hawaii Reporter continues to do the public a disservice by publishing incorrect information without seeking to balance its reports with the facts.
This time, the inaccuracies focus on property acquisition. Hawaii Reporter falsely writes that “HART officials are the only ones that know the total number of properties that will be condemned or who will be impacted because they have not turned over that information to city council members or the public.”
Had Hawaii Reporter checked the facts, they would have found that all of the properties that may be impacted are prominently listed in the EIS, and notifications to property owners began in 2008.
In addition, that list has been provided to City Council and has also been discussed in public meetings. A current and updated list of all property acquired is also on the HART website and accessible to the public.
HART understands that any disruption is difficult and has worked closely and compassionately with landowners and tenants in relocation and in accordance with state and federal laws. Thus far, HART has reached mutual agreements will all property owners — no condemnation proceedings have been needed. Zero.
In the case of the Farinas family, Hawaii Reporter once again has the facts wrong.
Here are the facts:
They were paid a mutually agreed price of $558,000 for the property in September 2011, which put the ownership of the property under the City.
The Farinas family was also offered relocation assistance in line with federal policies.
HART also contracted with Helping Hands Hawaii to further assist them with their needs.
Since the purchase, they have continued to live there, refusing to pay rent on what is now city-owned property; instead they turned around and subleased the property, collecting rent from others on property they no longer own.
They were notified on March 14, 2012, that they have a minimum of 90 days before a 30-day notice to vacate would be issued. The 30-day notice was issued
on July 17, 2012.
They have now said their replacement property would not be available until October 24, due to fumigation issues.
Ample time has clearly been provided to the Farinas family, but HART also has the responsibility to protect taxpayers’ interests.
Unfortunately, Hawaii Reporter failed to inquire as to what the facts were until after the story was published. Instead they turned to rail opponents to provide inaccurate information. This fails the public interest and fails to meet the test of good journalism. Sadly, rail opponents have targeted landowners who have gone through the acquisition process, asking them to speak out against the project. Yet these property owners have declined to do that because they have indeed been treated fairly. In the case of the
Farinas property, any reasonable taxpayer would agree that HART has been more than fair and must now protect the public’s interest.
Jerry Iwata is the Real Estate Acquisition Manager of the semi autonomous Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation