Page 4 - MidWeek Windward - May 10, 2023
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4 MAY 10, 2023
 Lease Agreements Signed With 11 Waiāhole Farmers
 The Hawaiʻi Housing Fi- nance and Development Corp. has announced that it signed amended lease agree- ments with 11 Waiāhole Val- ley farmers that will have them pay below-market rents through 2038. A private sign- ing ceremony took place re- cently in Windward Oʻahu with the farmers, who collec- tively are known as Mahiʻai O Waiāhole.
used to calculate the agreed-to rents will serve as a basis to complete unresolved negoti- ations with 24 other farmers leasing HHFDC agricultural lots in the valley.
the state of Hawaiʻi.
The ongoing financial loss
 According to a press re- lease from HHFDC, annual rent for the agricultural areas of leased property increases to $200 an acre from $100 an acre, excluding areas with res- idential use.
Nani Medeiros, Hawai‘i’s chief housing officer, states, “We are thrilled that we were able to support our Waiāhole farmers’ wish to secure af- fordable leases.”
The recent lease signing reaffirms the decision of the HHFDC board of directors in March to approve amended lease agreements.
Annual rent for residen- tial-dwelling areas increases to $1,650 from the $500 pre- viously assessed for all dwell- ing uses.
(From left) Farmers Nick Reppun, Kaanapu Jacobsen, Kalai Miller and John Reppun speak to other farmers and state officials after signing their new agreements. PHOTO COURTESY HAWAI‘I HOUSING FINANCE AND DEVELOPMENT CORP.
were sought to help offset an annual net operating loss of approximately $1.1 million to maintain the valley’s potable water system, roads and other public infrastructure. HHFDC has a fiduciary duty to help balance the state budget under the laws and constitution of
Under the leases, if no agreement is reached between HHFDC and the lessee on the rent of an agricultural lot by July 1, the issue is to be submitted to mediation. If no agreement is reached through mediation, either party may initiate the arbitration process.
Farmers will now pay 1% of gross agricultural income derived from the leased prop- erties for the preceding calen- dar year, up from 0.9%. The new agreements also call for agricultural lessees to submit quarterly summaries of nota- ble farm activities.
Long-time Waiāhole farm- er John Reppun — a member of Mahiʻai O Waiāhole — states that the new agreements create a clear path to ensuring farming continues for genera- tions in the valley.
Kalaʻi Miller, another farm- er and Mahiʻai O Waiāhole member who signed an agree- ment, states, “We’re proof that when you go about some- thing in a way that is pono, you have a really good chance of having a pono outcome.”
If no agreement is reached on the rent of a residential lot by June 1, rent will be deter- mined through arbitration.
“The state of Hawaiʻi ac- quired Waiāhole Valley over 40 years ago to preserve its rural and agricultural quali- ties,” Minakami states. “The agreements reached today recognize the efforts of farm- ers who have helped the state to realize this vision.”
is, in part, due to substantial- ly below-market rental rates that were established approxi- mately 25 years ago, when 91 separate ground leases were signed. Rents were set ac- cording to formulas based on lot size, which varies widely across the valley.
Medeiros also serves as Gov. Josh Green’s representa- tive on the HHFDC board of directors.
here with HHFDC is what’s going to be offered to the oth- er ag lot lessees as well, and that’s encouraging.”
Lease-rent renegotiations also continue with 49 of 57 residential lessees in the val- ley. Long-term lease agree- ments with each of HHFDCʻs Waiāhole lessees require that annual rent be renegotiated for the 15-year period begin- ning June 30. Negotiations began in July 2022 as stipulat- ed in the leases.
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“There’s no question in my mind that the heart of Waiāhole lies in food produc- tion,” Reppun states. “The agreements we’ve come to
Miller thanked HHFDC, Medeiros and state Sen. Bren- ton Awa, who represents the region, for being willing to listen to concerns of residents.
According to its press re- lease, HHFDC proposed rent increases for all of its Waiāhole lots, although at rates far low- er than market-priced proper- ties in the area. Rent increases
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