State Rep. Perruso says farmland infamous for chop shop, shooting, trafficking still marred in crime

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HONOLULU (KHON2) — There are calls for change as concern grows over a large piece of land in Wahiawa that some say is once again becoming a hotbed for crime.

Now lawmakers are moving toward an investigation into the land owner.

[Hawaii news on the go–LISTEN to KHON 2GO weekday mornings at 7:30 a.m.]

On the drive from Honolulu to Oahu’s North Shore, land that was riddled with crime is right off of Kamehameha Highway. Sweeps were done last year after a fatal shooting in the area, but state Representative Amy Perruso says crime has returned.

“I’ve been getting a lot of reports about continued illegal activity on ADC land, dumping of vehicles, and the kinds of thing that we had seen as problematic before,” Rep. Perruso said. “A lot of drug activity.”

UPDATE SATURDAY 5/8: The ADC followed up with KHON2, stating:

“We conducted a site tour with the Honolulu Police Department this week. Our inspections found no new criminal activity, illegal encampments or abandoned vehicles on our site since our last clean up last year. 

We do take these public safety claims seriously, and we wanted to verify before getting back to you.

Our roving security continues to monitor the area and entry points to discourage criminal activity from returning. Our ADC staff will continue its routine inspections of the property with law enforcement.”

The farm land is owned by the state’s Agribusiness Development Corporation. Following the shooting on it’s property in 2020, ADC Executive Director James Nakatani said Tuesday in a written statement that they have made these changes:

  • The removal of over 150 abandoned vehicles since last summer by a private towing company to clear the area for agricultural use.
  • Hiring of a new security firm, with increased patrols of our properties, particularly at night, to discourage illegal activity and theft/vandalism.
  • Water for irrigation was previously an issue, but has since been rectified. Repairs were made to the former Dole Foods Co. well (Bott Well) that provides much-needed water to the ADC property and tenants.
  • The completion of two new on-site reservoirs – totaling 13 million gallons in capacity – are currently being filled with water to assist with farmers’ irrigational needs.
    These major steps allow us to move forward with our goal of 100 percent occupancy of these lands, which in turn move us closer toward fulfilling the state’s food sustainability goal.

However, Rep. Perruso says the ADC has done a poor job of marketing their property including listings mismatched with the tax map key.

“That whole approach offering as little about the property that you want to lease does not seem to be constructive or helpful for farmers,” Perruso said.

The ADC says it already has plans to select tenants.

“On transitioning to diversified agriculture and improving its land management challenges, ADC last week completed its process in accepting applications for our remaining 1,200 acres in the Central Oahu, Wahiawa area,” Nakatani said. “. Agriculture-related tenants are expected to be selected later this summer, with the remaining vacant parcels filled by the end of the year.”

Still, Rep. Perruso wants more than just the ADC’s word.

Last week, she helped pass House Resolution 164, which will create an investigatory committee into the ADC.

“I hope that we will be able to get some evidence of what’s actually been happening with ADC my office has been working on that for awhile,” Rep. Perruso said.

With the passing of the resolution, five state representatives appointed by House Speaker Scott Saiki will have powers to subpoena and call witnesses.

They are tasked with creating a report on the ADC by the beginning of the next legislative session in early 2022.

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