HONOLULU (KHON2) — A forest preserve in Manoa could be on the chopping block if a proposed affordable housing complex gets the green light, but area residents are already voicing opposition.
The 171-year-old Manoa Chinese Cemetery says they are facing pending bankruptcy due to nearly full occupancy of their land.
“The reason that we’re doing this is to generate income in order to maintain the Manoa Chinese Cemetery in perpetuity, number one,” said Charles Wong, the president of Lin Yee Chung Association, which runs the cemetery. “Number two, to provide for the greatest social needs of our time, which is elderly affordable rental housing.”
Wong said the cemetery needs $20,000 monthly to operate. He added that revenue from 288 units will bring in $40,000 a month, with the extra money helping to pay off deferred maintenance fees.
Some Manoa residents who oppose the plan say it’s not a case of “not in my back yard.”
“I don’t think most people are saying no development. I think a lot of us are just asking for some moderation instead of 288 units and multiple buildings that are three stories tall,” UH Manoa professor and Manoa resident Daniel Rubinoff said.
Others want to preserve green space in Manoa, like born-and-raised Manoa resident Janyce Mitchell.
“Green space is a really big part of Manoa, and wild space is too. The kind of wild spaces that were here when I grew up are gone. And this is one of the few that are left,” she said.
An environmental impact could be flooding in an area with a ditch and climate change looming.
Wong met with residents and answered some questions at the Manoa Neighborhood Board Meeting on Wednesday night. The Lin Yee Chung Association is planning to provide information and meet with the community at a town hall meeting on April 30 and the next board meeting in May
The Lin Yee Chung Association said that the housing development will stay affordable.
“It’s for 61 years,” Wong said. “However, since The Lin Yee Chung Association is a charitable nonprofit organization and we plan to make it affordable in perpetuity. We have no intention of ever making it market rate even after 61 years,”
Environmental and traffic studies could come next, and then confirmation from Honolulu Hale and Manoa City Council Rep. Calvin Say.
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“At this point, I’ll be open to both sides and listening to both sides before I make my final decision,” Say said. “More importantly it will have to come before the city council to get its approval,”