The Ka Iwi Coast must be treated as a whole -- that's the picture as you round the bend from Hanauma Bay and that's the way our state and city governments should be proceeding. But they're not.
Saving Ka Iwi was
only the first step
Governor Cayetano's leadership in purchasing a large chunk of the Ka Iwi coast presents an enormous opportunity to do the right thing for the entire coast. Like the Kakaako waterfront, it needs to be treated in its entirety to make the most of a marvelous asset.
In short, the recent purchase at Ka Iwi was a great move, a legacy move by the governor, but is only part of the struggle. And big-picture planning and execution must follow to give this rare coastal gem its due.
Recent presentations about state parks at neighborhood boards have highlighted the glaring need for a whole-coast approach -- from Koko Head to Makapuu -- and highlighted the contention that such an approach is not getting any visibility from the state and city that together own the entire coast. Arguably Koko Head, Hanauma and Sandy Beach are getting attention from the city. And the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, or DLNR, is planning for its newly purchased 300 acres of Ka Iwi.
But stuck right in the middle is a no-man's land, Wawamalu, which is being trashed due to inattention from its city owner and lack of enforcement on its beaches by the DLNR' s conservation enforcement arm, the Division of Conservation and Resource Enforcement, or DOCARE, which has full police powers.
Within most people's memory, there has been talk of a National Park spanning this zone. "Not feasible" came back the answer from Washington DC. Maybe so, but that doesn't detract from the concept that the Ka Iwi coast should be treated as a whole rather than piecemeal.
Ignoring Wawamalu means missing the most logical parking site for hiker and shore-user access to the newly acquired acres. That site is now a large dusty bowl, already parked-on, junked-up and rat-raced-on. It could be graded, provided with safe highway access, and treated with gravel, landscaping and encroachment barriers for conservation and safe access to Wawamalu, Kaloko and Queen's Beach. Using this access site would spare further degradation of the new Ka Iwi acres.
The situation at Wawamalu Beach has been atrocious for some time. Cars, SUVs and trucks are driving on the beach, crashing through the pitiful dunes where naupaka is trying to vegetate. There is litter everywhere from car parts to tires to beverage containers to dumped trash.
Just because it would be more complicated for the state and city to plan and coordinate for the whole of Ka Iwi doesn't mean that it shouldn't be done. That would be good public policy and the least that the governor and the mayor should effect. Until they take this big-picture approach, they will appear inept, the public will be ill served, and a rare opportunity will be squandered.
William Reese Liggett lives in Kaimuki
and is a Ka Iwi coast clean-up leader.