Hawaii Kai farmers face 25-fold rent hike

Old age caught up long ago with a group of farmers working 87 acres in East Honolulu’s Kamilo Nui Valley, and now the rent they pay to lease the land is about to catch up after four decades.

Kamehameha Schools recently notified its 13 farm tenants in the agrarian Hawaii Kai neighborhood that it is seeking a roughly 25-fold increase in rent.

The trust, Hawaii’s largest private landowner, believes the offer is fair given that the farmers have to date been paying rent set in the early 1970s, and that the farm leases call for rent to be reset now for the 15 years remaining on the leases.

But many of the farmers, some of whom are in their 80s, say they cannot handle such a drastic hike, especially at their age and with the economy the way it is.