Trust brokers Pupukea preservation deal
The 1,100-acre Pupukea-Paumalu bluff-top property offers a bird's-eye view of North Shore surf spots
A decades-long movement to save a 1,100-acre swath of Oahu's North Shore from development moved forward last week as the state Board of Land and Natural Resources approved buying the land.
"We're really pleased that the board gave the tentative approval," said Lea Hong, executive director of the Trust for Public Land Hawaii, which has worked to gather various public and private moneys to make the $7.95 million purchase.
The Pupukea-Paumalu bluff-top land offers a bird's-eye view of surf spots like Sunset Beach and Pipeline, Hong said.
"The land speaks for itself" as to why it is important, Hong said.
Owner Obayashi Hawaii Corp. planned in the 1990s to build an extensive housing development called Lihi Lani, which was to include a golf course, an equestrian facility and even its own sewage plant. The company later decided not to develop and put the land, which it bought in 1974 for $7 million, up for sale.
Hong praised the Japanese company for its patience in waiting for various parties to get the money to buy the land, which could have been sold for considerably more money.
"They really worked with us. It was really brave of them to consider selling their land with us," Hong said. "It's a complicated process, and couldn't be accomplished without a willing seller."
Pledges include $3 million from the Army, $1 million from the state, $1.9 million from a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration coastal estuarine land conservation program, a $600,000 National Park Service conservation grant and more than $200,000 in private donations to the North Shore Community Land Trust, she said.
As part of the overall purchase, the city is to spend $1 million to buy 26 acres on Kamehameha Highway, immediately next to Sunset Elementary School, for use as a nature preserve, Hong said.
The remainder of the land is on top of the bluffs, she said.
The state still has things to do before closing the deal, including geological assessment of rockfall risks from the cliff tops to lands below and ensuring that the two federal grants can be used together, according to information submitted to the Land Board.
Restoring the land classification back to its original "agriculture" designation is pending before the state Land Use Commission, Hong said. The land will have a permanent conservation overlay that will prevent it from ever being developed, she said.
The state Parks Division will have control of the land. There are no immediate plans for what the division will do with the land, but ideas include low-impact uses such as hiking, native plant restoration and possibly tent camping.
"It's a great success, a wonderful culmination of decades of work of the community coming together in terms of protecting the rural character of the North Shore," Hong said. "It's fantastic."
Thursday, January 18, 2007
» The state is buying North Shore land that was previously slated for a development called Lihi Lani. A Tuesday headline on Page A3 incorrectly stated that the land would be purchased by the Trust for Public Land Hawaii.