Maui Housing Crisis & Finding Shelter for Displaced Families - Sakamoto Properties

Maui Housing Crisis & Finding Shelter for Displaced Families

Home » Betty’s Hawaii Real Estate Corner » Maui Housing Crisis & Finding Shelter for Displaced Families
November 2, 2023
YouTube video

Betty Sakamoto: Aloha. Welcome to Betty’s Real Estate Corner, brought to you by Coldwell Banker Sakamoto Properties. Now, we have a very exciting day in the studio because Cindy Paulos is here with me, the queen of KAOI radio. Usually, my husband, Roy is here.

Cindy Paulos: Special guest.

BS: We had some special guests that we were thinking about, but all of a sudden, Cindy and I got together and thought we needed a day together here.

CP: Well, I always love listening to your show. And this is just a nicer way to listen to your show while I’m in the studio with you.

BS: We’ll have some fun doing this. Hey, you know one of the things I was just mentioning to you is that the new home and land magazine, which is usually just pictures of homes, pictures of homes has been done, and the majority of the people that advertised. The magazine called everybody and tried to come up with, what they really wanted to publish and nobody really wanted to do just house ads. And there’s less inventory than there was but it’s really great! Everybody did something a little bit different and we did the same. We came up with a place we advertised, some of our listings and we oops, I got the wrong one here. Now, this is the right one. Elizabeth Quayle put a beautiful ad that basically welcomes everybody back to West Maui with open arms. And I know that is, as you know, an issue with a lot of people that don’t want our visitors to be returning yet. They’re thinking it’s too early. I don’t know the answer. I could take either side, probably. But I think that a lot of people just want to work again. They want to work.

CP: Well and I did. I was surprised just I think yesterday or the day before I heard that there actually are more people in hotels that are the residents of the places that burned down than there are visitors.

BS: Yes.

CP: So they’re still in the hotels. More people.

BS: They are.

CP: They are going to be there. They said they provide for them through Christmas. So that’s nice for them to know that they’re not being threatened at all with having to move out. That was part of the issue that people had. They were afraid. There was so much fear.

BS: There is no fear. No question. And even people there’s a lot of people that are being moved from place to place.

CP: Yeah.

BS: So even if they’re in a hotel and I don’t want to say specific places or certainly some of the condos that have taken in people. They might be in condo A for ten days or something. But then all of a sudden they’re going to move to condo B.

CP: Right.

BS: Because someone’s coming into condo A. Maybe the owner.

CP: Yeah.

BS: And then all of a sudden, six days later, they’re asking them to move again and they’re all getting crazy.

CP: When you take a trip, you always move from place to place. A lot of people don’t stay on a trip for more than two days in a hotel for three as you know, to travel. But, you know, it’s a whole different mindset. And I think everyone’s adjusting. I was so touched by the fact that Whalers Village did a nice event for the Keiki for Halloween, and they had music too, good music. You know, George Kahumoku played at Leland’s Lani’s and I, that one wasn’t made to public and I think on purpose. They kind of just wanted something for the local people to have for Halloween that was nice and a safe place.

BS: I think you’re right. A lot of our visitors were there. And they were welcome, I would say, with open arms from most people. We didn’t go. I had actually until you mentioned it today, I’d kind of forgotten that it was happening. But there are so many things that the Ritz-Carlton, has a great setup there every night, it’s almost the lobby, but there’s a huge lobby bar.

CP: Yeah.

BS: And then, lots of really good food. And that’s been really jumping again. And it is local people, which it usually is, but it’s a local people and then a lot of visitors.

CP: And local music.

BS: And local music. Yeah, they have some great music there all of the time and that’s really perfect. But the food is good, everything’s good. And we were there last night and it was a great, great assortment of people.

CP: Yeah.

BS: We were also talking to one of the people who works there who is the one who they’ve been forced to move a lot. You know, once they, if you’re not in the hotel at that point and they’ve lost their house and they’re just trying to pull it together and stay here and looking for a great rental, there’s such perfect people. We’ve got somebody coming into town soon that has a condo that we’re hoping will rent to them for a year just so that they could get situated and they don’t leave. Because there’s another problem. We are seeing that some of the best people here aren’t going to be able to rebuild for a long time. And they’re going to be shifted from place to place. They’ve got a couple of little kids and it’s just not working for them.

CP: That’s the biggest crisis we’re facing. You know this, there was a housing crisis before this. And now with so many people’s homes gone, the reality, I’m sure, kind of hit them is that I can’t build back on my land right now.

BS: That’s right.

CP: That is going to be the issue that’s the hardest thing for people to accept. Okay, I have this land, I own this land, but I can’t build on it now. So what do I do? And I think that’s where they’re going to have to get a smaller home. Well, maybe you call them tiny holly, tiny homes.

BS: Maybe.

CP: Or something for a part-time till you get and maybe they’re saying a year.

BS: But no, it’s more than that, I think.

CP: Yeah.

BS: But I think, if our governments come together, or government, comes together and figures out how they remove the debris or whatever we would call it now. I mean, we had someone that told us and I think we talked about it last week on the radio, that their parents and grandparents basically were buried on the property or their ashes were. You know, so before anyone came in there, they wanted to be sure that somebody helped them. Be sure that they got the ashes out. I think that they did find that they were pretty destroyed. I think they found part of it. But I think that’s going to be a huge thing in many of the homes.

CP: Yeah. That’s a very, very big issue. And I mean, I know there’s enough forensic stuff and I don’t know how much it would cost to be able to determine what is, you know, human remains. I don’t know how that would be put into place or if it’s possible with everything. But I mean, you certainly want to honor that.

BS: Oh, no question.

CP: But, you know, when you think about it, if we could just change our mindset. You know, how many times in the old days were people’s families buried in the backyard?

BS: Oh, everybody. I mean.

CP: You buried your family.

BS: That’s right.

CP: In your home area.

BS: I mean, when it used to be I think you actually buried a casket or you buried a person.

CP: Caskets are very recent. Did you know that?

BS: I did. Yeah. What’s more than a couple.

CP: And before that in England, Europe, and other places, the family was buried in your property.

BS: Hopefully, you had larger lots than they have in Lahaina.

CP: Right.

BS: Because it would be pretty difficult. But I think that could be and I don’t think it’s this generation, probably not the last that actually, I don’t know. I really have no idea. I just know that in the case I heard, it’s more of the urn kind of thing. But people want to keep them close and they know where they are. But it all happened too quickly, too.

CP: And it’s going to be considered sacred ground.

BS: It is sacred ground.

CP: I mean, that I understand it is sacred ground. And in a way, it’s a way to honor them. If you could figure out a proper way.

BS: Yes.

CP: To do that with the blessing and maybe above ground area that’s protected and being able to be honored there and then build around that. But it’s going to be we’re going to, you know.

BS: And the lots, though, are very small. In most cases…

CP: Yes, it’s true.

BS: You couldn’t really have a great area where you could make the burial site and have a spot around there where you could honor them.

CP: Unless you could do a raised plantation style, raised area above it. You know, I guess of a raised home.

BS: Yeah, well, that’s how a lot of the homes were to begin with.

CP: Yeah.

BS: But we should probably get off the idea of the burials.

CP: I know, you know. It’s so hard, but it’s so hard reality and I think it’s good to talk about it.

BS: You know, you’re right.

CP: Yeah. I mean, I think you’re going to have to talk about this. These are things that we have to change our attitude about to deal with it. I think it’s the only way.

BS: No question.

CP: Christmas is coming next. Thanksgiving is so important. You know, you love Thanksgiving, right? We all love that.

BS: We all love Thanksgiving.

CP: And it’s going to be a time to try to change your focus again to what we can be grateful for.

BS: Are you cooking a turkey this year?

CP: Never.

BS: Never. Okay.

CP: I’m a vegetarian!

BS: Oh, but that doesn’t mean you could put on.

CP: Two people in my family, one that only eats meat. That doesn’t make sense.

BS: I say 50%.

CP: I go out to eat.

BS: Well, that’s a good idea.

CP: There’s some restaurants that are now open in your area, right?

BS: There’s enough, really. The Ritz is pretty much opening up. Roy’s restaurant has opened up. Not the whole restaurant, but you can go there for lunch.

CP: Oh, good.

BS: And they’ve got enough tables. The service is great. The food is per…

CP: Have you been there?

BS: Oh, yeah. We’ve been going there for lunch. And lunch at Roy’s is fabulous. It’s so good. And everybody there, they’re so friendly and happy and happy again to be working. It’s a great Sea House at Napili Kai.

CP: Oh, that’s a beautiful place.

BS: Yeah. They’re open for three meals a day.

CP: Wow.

BS: And again, it’s pretty much the same menu.

CP: Now, I know the Cannery Mall isn’t open yet except for Safeway alone but did Mala and Frida’s down below do that?

BS: No, they’re okay. But it’s going to take a while for them to build to, I think.

CP: Get the water.

BS: Yeah. To get the water and then they’re going to have to figure out, I don’t know. I mean, I could see them stopping the road right there for now.

CP: Yes.

BS: Because they’d be the only two places that I have yet to be on Front Street either. But they could open those up once they had the water figured out. And they are certainly, well, there are three restaurants there. Honu, which had been closed because they were going to open a different restaurant. And then Mala, which is always the best.

CP: And Frida’s.

BS: Frida’s is the one that, did I just say the wrong one?

CP: No, no, you’re right. You said Mala, Huno, and then Frida’s was the other one that became Star Noodle?

BS: No, not Frida’s.

CP: Oh, I thought the…

BS: Star Noodle was separate.

CP: Oh okay.

BS: So there were really four.

CP: Oh, good.

BS: You know, so there it was, If you came along…

CP: Star Noodle.

BS: No. Well, if you came that way, Star Noodle.

CP: Yeah.

BS: And then Honu and then, attached almost, was Frida’s.

CP: Right.

BS: And then Mala. And they were all fabulous. And they will be. But I don’t know how they figure out the water issue, but they will. They’ll get it done. And the buildings are okay.

CP: I really hope they figure out a nice way to celebrate Thanksgiving up there for the whole community. For those that don’t, wouldn’t it be beautiful to have some central way to have a wonderful, you know?

BS: Yeah.

CP: Thanksgiving celebration.

BS: Yeah. It would be.

CP: Providing a beautiful location with wonderful Thanksgiving meals.

BS: I think there’ll be something, but I think most of the hotels will have something great.

CP: Yeah.

BS: I think the church in Kahana, which I’m so sorry, I don’t recall the name of it right now.

CP: Yeah

BS: But I know that they have done so much for the community. And so embarrassing, I can’t think of the name. But they’ve been wonderful. And they’ve had people there every day, you know, that they’ve been helping and taking care of. And I think they were doing some sort of a mini school thing or they’re helping with kids.

CP: Speaking of schools, Lahainaluna. My God.

BS: Oh, is that great? I mean, it’s so sad. But you know something, now they’re undefeated in football. Undefeated.

CP: There’s so much pride.

BS: There is so much pride. I mean, we’ve been pretty much.

CP: So much red.

BS: So much red, exactly. One of the early games that we went to, which was on this side of the island, you know, in Wailuku. And everybody wore red, on both sides. It was the first game that they played, and I think it was Baldwin. And everybody was wearing red.

CP: It was huge!

BS: Yes. It was huge. And every seat was sold.

CP: And a lot of people crying.

BS: Yes.

CP: Just tears of joy and pride as well, you know.

BS: The two teams sang the Lahainaluna alma mater together.

CP: It was a moment.

BS: It was a moment, it was. It was really great. And each game has been the same. The Maui High game, Kamehameha.

CP: Yeah.

BS: It’s been wonderful.

CP: And it’s good for the whole group of people there.

BS: For everybody.

CP: And the whole community. Absolutely line alone, the pride.

BS: And the boys. I mean, it still says right underneath the booth where they, you know, where they’re watching to tell him what’s happening. It still says this huge, fabulous sign that says “Sue’s Boys”. You know, to still respect Sue Cooley who built the stadium.

CP: Your friend.

BS: Our friend, I mean she is. I miss her so much. And when we get back to the games, we’ll always remember Sue. I mean, everybody would have it, you know, that she didn’t have to pay for a ticket. She always wanted us to be sure she had a ticket.

CP: Yeah.

BS: You know, just she, she was the best. We all miss her, but what she did there is fabulous.

CP: And isn’t it? I mean, I’m so glad the school survived. Oh my God.

BS: Oh.

CP: History and everything. You know, just the fact that at least that kind of pride and that huge history survived is so wonderful.

BS: It’s amazing.

CP: The firefighters were working as hard as they could.

BS: They had to, they had to.

CP: Because it came pretty close. The fire was right around it.

BS: Yes. Oh, yeah. There’s part of the fence that’s halfway down. Now, I don’t know. I’ve never heard exactly what happened there. But it had something to do with the fire and water, and stuff I think. I just don’t know exactly what the final story was. But the boys, the football players, the coaches, Lanny Tihada, who will always be a coach at Lahainaluna. But Lanny is just amazing. He’s kind of Mr. Lahaina. He acts like he doesn’t do anything. And he’s Maiki’s really, really grandpa. She calls him “pops”! And Maiki Tihada, they’re such a wonderful family and they lost their home.

CP: Wow.

BS: And again, the same thing. But he’s at least, he’s so positive. I mean, they’ll be rebuilding and they’re going to do it as soon as they can. And I don’t know, he seems to be able to at least pull off the image of I’ve got this. And that’s going to be hard for everyone.

CP: That’s going to be hard but then if you have people you can follow. I mean, I know Archie and so many people up there. And, you know, this Saturday, they’re giving away 2000 native trees and they’re featuring trees that are the Ulu trees and how to graft them. Ulu trees and breadfruit trees don’t have seeds. So you can’t just plant.

BS: I didn’t know that.

CP: Yeah, but they’ll show you how you can graft it from a branch. And they have gone and found the historic Ulu trees. The ones that can survive trying to protect them. Some are 80 years old and some older. This is starting at 9:00 to 2:00 at the Maui Botanical. You can park at the War Memorial for free, it’s all free. But you can get 2000 trees. And I know people and I’m hoping people will get trees. It’s not just Ulu there. They’ll tell you which…

BS: But how can they do that now when they don’t have a place?

CP: You can still plant a tree if you have property.

BS: They wouldn’t let you go on your lot and plant a tree.

CP: Oh, you couldn’t plant a tree?

BS: No, I don’t think so.

CP: These are just in containers.

BS: So maybe, take care of it where you are.

CP: They’re small. Yeah, you can still take care of them.

BS: Yes, but you can’t take it to you and..

CP: Plant it no place?

BS: No.Because

CP: It can stay in its container. You can take care of it till wherever you do get settled. The trees are always a beautiful sign. I heard that the banyan tree was starting, and I saw a picture.

BS: That’s what I’ve heard. Yeah.

CP: With green growing back on the branches, you know.

BS: Yeah, they had that pretty much almost right away. They were watching it really closely. And that’s what I’m hearing, that it is growing and that it will survive. And hopefully, they’re right about that. They’ll probably have to cut some of it down, I guess. I don’t know. It’ll be great to see how they’re doing.

CP: Did you know that Maui County has an arborist and stuff?

BS: Yes.

CP: And so the arborists are working hard and bringing people over and honoring the trees that are so important, of course.

BS: The trees on the main road, you know, coming into Lahaina.

CP: Are those monkey pods?

BS: No, these are regular palm trees and on one of the first days, somebody cut down a couple of them. And then I thought, I wonder if these would live. And then whatever happened, they stopped them. And I’m hoping that they’re going to regrow. They don’t look good, but I am hoping that they do somehow survive.

CP: It’s really amazing how some of them do survive. If you look at places that have burnt down in the past and how when it gets the water and the rain, which we need so much of. I mean…

BS: Yes.

CP: Green will come back and it’s going to be a very challenging time for it. I think you’ve seen how people have the positive and the good attitudes. You’re seeing changes. You’ve seen evolution, right over the last few months of people. You’re really seeing the positive and good things that are happening.

BS: I think people are trying. When you’ve lost your house and you’ve got three kids and you’ve been living in a hotel and they’ve been moving you from place to place, it’s so hard for the families. And then, if nobody has been working and you’re still making your mortgage payment, it’s so hard. I can’t imagine what everybody’s going through financially. It’s really a problem. But people are trying and they’re trying to hold it together. And, so often when we’ve talked to someone, they’ve said they do their best to keep the kids happy. You know so that they’ll remember this as a good thing. I mean, if you want to say a good thing.

CP: Well, it’s going to be a point where those kids are going to grow up. And 20 years from now, I was there.

BS: I was there.

CP: I was there, and that was a turning point. 20 years, It’s all changed. It’s different and it is going to be different.

BS: It will be different.

CP: Yeah.

BS: Hopefully, Front Street can still be Front Street. I think they may have to, some of the restaurants that hung out over the water, I don’t know what’s going to happen there.

CP: They are not going to be allowed. I found out that they can’t.

BS: Yeah, that’s what I’ve heard.

CP: Because they were grandfathered in. I talked to someone from jail and you are not going to be allowed. The ones right on the water over because of the changing tides.

BS: But if it comes back and then somebody talked about moving, you know, having a walking area.

CP: Yes, I’ve heard that. Yeah.

BS: Then the other restaurants could be where they are, even if they have to go back a little bit. Hopefully, everybody who had property will be able to.

CP: It’s the big question.

BS: Run on their business.

CP: Yeah. It’s a big question.

BS: Cause otherwise I think it’s going, oh, I don’t know.

CP: I know I’ve been trying to deal with them. And the thing you have to find as you to and and the right people.

BS: But everybody unions right now.

CP: I know.

BS: You can’t, you really can’t. You’ve got to just trust your own judgment and listen and know that their best to do the right thing for people and to tell them the wrong.

CP: Yeah.

BS: I think the Red Cross knows a lot. I think FEMA knows a lot. I think.

CP: Yeah, really do.

BS: Our mayor is working really hard, you know, to see to it.

CP: They let the body count come out of what the police department saw. It was interesting seeing, you could feel what you saw. I heard someone the other day, one guy telling my friend that they’re lying to people and 4000 people died and it’s like, no.

BS: No.

CP: You know, So there are people saying things that aren’t true that don’t make sense. So if you don’t listen to things that make no sense whatsoever, don’t listen.

BS: No. There weren’t that many people who didn’t die. I mean, it is horrible when you see the number of cars that were there and you’ve talked to so many people that ended up in the water.

CP: Yeah

BS: They’ve searched for people. And if there’s a few more people that somehow come out, but I don’t believe that. The night that it was all happening, the worst night I remember we thought it would definitely be something like a thousand.

CP: Yeah.

BS: Because it was so scary. And you knew about the cars and you knew about people trapped in homes. But so many people helped other people. There was a thing, you know, the firemen and policemen were going door to door, which originally nobody gave them credit for. But they worked so hard to save people, to get people out of their cars, to tell them what to do. Everybody struggled. It’s so easy to be critical of what somebody didn’t do.

CP: Well, you want to blame someone?

BS: Absolutely. I mean, if we lost, yes.

CP: And there were mistakes made.

BS: Of course.

CP: And I’m hoping that not just I hope some of these people that did make mistakes in their positions of power, can say they’re sorry. I’m hoping at some point they can say they’re sorry.

BS: Now. I hope so. But I also think that in a way, they did their best.

CP: They did.

BS: You don’t always have to say you’re sorry because you did your best. I mean, you did everything you could do, everything you were told to do. If you think how people, like one person told someone they could go through, another person said, you can’t. You’ve got to turn around.

CP: Yeah.

BS: But they were each getting their information somewhere.

CP: That’s the problem.

BS: It wasn’t the man on the street, the policemen, the firemen.

CP: They’re following orders.

BS: That’s right. Our firemen and our policemen were dedicated to the job, were heartbroken about whatever didn’t go right, and should be thrilled at everything that went as well as it could. The number of people that are alive is small, although if it’s your person, it’s horrible. But the small count that are deceased, I mean, let’s all pray for them and take care of their families.

CP: Yeah. I have been going up to Iao Valley. Probably, I’ve gone about 50 times and I’m going again today to say prayers up there. It takes that, you know, and at least…

BS: It does.

CP: If you feel like you can do something. If you can give money, give. If you can pray, pray. If you can do something nice for Thanksgiving…

BS: Yes.

CP: Maui Foodbank still needs help. So many people still need help. Giving helps you feel better.

BS: I think it does, too. Everybody needs something. Some people are getting everything they need because they’ve worked hard and they’ve figured it out. Other people almost don’t want anything because they’ve always taken care of their own family and they’re not asking for anything.

CP: Right.

BS: But they deserve it, too. And they deserve… let’s all, if nothing else, be sure, over the holidays, we hand out as many hugs as we can. If we have something that we can give, do it. If we know someone that we can take, I don’t even know what a basket of fruit is.

CP: Aloha in any way you can give it. It’s really important.

BS: Give Aloha. Give Aloha any way you can.

CP: And Aloha will survive.

BS: And then one minute we will have Danny Couch back here saying, I love Hawaii and I love Hawaii.

CP: I love Hawaii.

BS: Yes.

CP: I love you, too. You’re wonderful.

BS: Thanks.

CP: You’re a treasure. I love you, Betty.

BS: Well, I love you. And thank you, Cindy, for being a part of this today.

CP: Aloha.

BS: Aloha.