Sandy BeachThe City Council's Environment Committee has taken a step toward ending the "Save Sandy Beach" saga that began in the 1980s.
after 14 years
The full City Council's approval
is needed to keep the area
Cemetery given OK
By Gordon Y.K. Pang
But the big question must still be answered: How much will it cost the city to acquire the 30 acres across from Sandy Beach known as "Golf Course 5 and 6"?
The Council last year approved $5 million to purchase the two properties, an amount apparently used on appraisals of nearby land. Landowner Kamehameha Schools and Maunalua Associates, the leaseholder, have declined to discuss what they think they should receive. The committee yesterday approved a resolution initiating condemnation of the properties. The matter now goes to the full Council.
Longtime advocates of city acquisition hailed the Council's move.
"It's almost hard for me not to have tears in my eyes. It's been 14 years, and I never expected to be alive to see this," said Dave Matthews, a founding member of the Save Sandy Beach Coalition.
His voice choking, the 76-year-old Matthews said he can now retire from community activism.
"We see the value of the Ka Iwi Coast, as it is, with Golf Course 5 and 6 an integral part," said Shirley Lum, who has also fought for several decades to keep the region free of development.
The Save Sandy Beach Coalition sought to strike down land use approvals given for development of housing subdivisions on the two parcels at Kealahou Street on the mauka side of Kalanianaole Highway.
The lawsuits by the landowner and leaseholder stem from actions by the Council in the late 1980s, which took away land use approvals previously granted and placed the parcels in preservation.
The Council acted after an initiative seeking to preserve the land, spearheaded by the Save Sandy Beach Coalition and approved overwhelmingly by Oahu voters, was shot down by the Hawaii Supreme Court.
Following the Council actions, Kamehameha Schools and Maunalua's predecessors filed suit challenging the validity of the city ordinances, arguing that they had vested rights to develop the property. Related lawsuits were filed involving other Hawaii Kai land.
In the mid-1990s the Council and landowner attempted to negotiate a settlement that would have granted land use entitlements for development of 546 acres elsewhere in Hawaii Kai in exchange for the city's takeover of Golf Course 5 and 6. Those negotiations failed amid cries of land use "blackmail" by critics and a threatened veto by Mayor Jeremy Harris.
The case is scheduled for trial this summer.
Councilman Steve Holmes, Environment Committee chairman, acknowledged during yesterday's meeting that "some rather lengthy legal entanglements" remain unresolved, adding that the issue must still go to Councilman Romy Cachola's Policy Committee for a discussion on legal strategy.
Nonetheless, he said, "this is a very historic action for all of us to finally take action to bring this story to an end."
The parcels, once acquired, are expected to be "passive" recreational areas, Holmes said, much like a number of other parcels the city has purchased along the Windward coastline for land banking reasons.
Kamehameha Schools spokesman Kekoa Paulsen and Jim Boersema, spokesman for Maunalua, declined comment.
A 61-acre cemetery in the back of Hawaii Kai's Kamilonui Valley has won approval from a City Council committee despite vocal opposition.
Council panel OKs
Hawaii Kai cemetery
But KAMVAL LLC, headed by Oahu developers Bob Gerell and Joe Leone, will need to address landslide and traffic concerns before being allowed to receive subdivision, grading or building permits from the city.
A revised resolution approved by the Council Zoning Committee yesterday requires KAMVAL to complete geo-technical and traffic studies on the project.
The conditions were tacked on after concerned Hawaii Kai residents, testifying before the committee yesterday, warned of potential liability to the city.
Project planner Keith Kurahashi said the terraced landscaping of a cemetery would actually lessen the potential for flooding. He also said improvements would be made to mitigate traffic, which needs to come off Lunalilo Home Road and the Hawaii Kai Drive extension.
Not all testifiers were opposed to the project. Some said a cemetery was a reasonable and fitting addition to a well-planned community, noting that there are few cemetery plots available in the surrounding region.
A final vote on the project will be taken by the Council on Jan. 24.
City & County of Honolulu