Thursday, February 9, 2006

Plantation Workers and Their Homes

Alfred Brophy sent along a pointer to an article in the Hawaii Advertiser about the impact of Del Monte pulling out of the Hawaii pineapple market.  To me, the most interesting thing about the story is the suggestion that pineapple workers might be able to buy for a below-market price the homes they have been renting from Del Monte:

If developer Peter Savio's idea becomes reality, pineapple workers who live in plantation housing at Kunia Camp will not be thrown into O'ahu's pricey real estate market when Del Monte Fresh Produce pulls out of the Islands.

Savio has been working for the past year to allow other Del Monte workers to buy 63 plantation homes at nearby Poamoho Camp at about one-third market price. Yesterday, Savio said he is putting together a nearly identical plan for the Del Monte workers at Kunia Camp in Central O'ahu who would otherwise likely lose their homes along with their jobs.

Del Monte workers who live in Kunia Camp's 70 to 90 plantation homes pay $200 to $300 in monthly rent, Savio said.

He estimated the homes are worth $150,000 to $200,000. According to Savio's plan, Del Monte pineapple workers would be able to buy the homes and land for $50,000, with no money down.

As Brophy noted, this scenario raises some issues that come up in the first year Property course.  To me, the efforts to allow the workers to stay in their homes bring to mind both Radin's personhood theory and Singer's reliance theory.  But what is particularly interesting to me is that it seems that a potential developer, rather than the former employer/landlord Del Monte, is making the effort to allow people to stay in their homes.  Assuming that the developer is a rational economic actor, I'd guess that he must see a benefit in allowing the workers to buy their homes at such dramatically below-market prices.  Perhaps this benefit would be in the form of goodwill that would reduce local community and regulatory opposition to his development plan.  This in turn makes me wonder whether a similar dynamic is present in condo-conversion situations.

As always, comments are welcome, but I'd particularly welcome thoughts from anyone who has more detail about what might be happening with the Del Monte property.

Ben Barros

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It can be reasonably assumed that Del Monte, Developer Peter Savio, and underlying landowner James Campbell Estate hope to put these and/or other former pineapple fields to more intensive uses at some point in the future. They must know that any such plans will need numerous regulatory approvals from agencies of the State of Hawaii and the City and County of Honolulu, and it can reasonably be assumed that such efforts would not be aided by tossing forcibly retired plantation workers out of their homes. The fact that the State Senate is considering two bills to aid the workers in purchasing their residences as noted in an article in Tuesday's Honolulu Star-Bulletin ( ) shows that the workers have considerable political support. As the article points out, the President of the State Senate represents the district in question.

Posted by: Carl C. Christensen | Feb 15, 2006 12:17:58 PM

I am the peter Savio in question. I am doing the project as part of my community service devision. We are not planning to do any other developement in the area .I have converted over 7,000 units to condo and sold at cost plus small profit
I have given away over 150 million in below markeat prices to first time buyers and investors.
I am doing these projects to be socially responsible and to prove that private industry can solve the affordable housing problem in hawaii with out
government involvement. There is no hidden motive nor any future benafits other then loveing what I do
peter savio

Posted by: peter savio | Jul 6, 2006 8:21:14 PM

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