Public should be heard on Ka Iwi vacation cabin plans
A proposal for 180 recreational cabins on hills near the Ka Iwi coast has drawn opposition.
JUST as the dust settles in a long battle to preserve the Ka Iwi coast, a new plan to build vacation cabins on two nearby sites
is stirring up the community once again.
Though public discussion might not be required for approval of the development, city officials would be prudent to conduct hearings to avoid protracted and costly legal challenges since there appear to be issues in dispute. No one would gain from repetition of the Sandy Beach controversy that involved more than 14 years of litigation and millions of taxpayer dollars to resolve.
The project would encompass two parcels totaling 181 acres of land zoned for preservation. Under the designation, QRM, the development group, could build 180 vacation units if the primary use of the land is active recreation. The company says the project's focus is to provide hiking, biking, climbing, swimming, tennis, golf, fishing, snorkeling and scuba diving with the 800-square-foot cabins to be used by visitors.
However, opponents view the project as resort facilities, prohibited under preservation regulations, and contend that the developer is attempting to sidestep building limitations. They also argue that because the land is outside the urban growth boundaries of the East Honolulu Sustainable Communities Plan, the project should not be allowed.
At a Hawaii Kai Neighborhood Board meeting last week, QRM would not say whether the company plans to sell the cabins or use them as time shares or vacation rentals, one of the reasons the board voted to oppose the plans.
Questions also were raised about the geological stability of the hills where the cabins and recreational facilities would be built as the area has seen numerous rockslides in recent years, and about increased traffic through Hawaii Kai and along the two-lane coastal road.
The overriding issue, however, is the public's desire to retain the natural, open stretch of shoreline from Sandy Beach to Makapuu, an undertaking that began in the late 1980s when residents and others opposed housing set for construction mauka of Sandy Beach and a hotel-condominium project for Queen's Beach.
In the ensuing years, lawsuits, land swaps and government land purchases resulted in the coastline's preservation, with the state currently putting the finishing touches on Ka Iwi shoreline park that runs from Sandy to the Makapuu lookout.
It is apparent that people have reservations about the proposal. That and uncertainty about whether the project complies with land-use rules should be enough to prompt city officials to examine it carefully.