ROBERT SHIKINA / RSHIKINA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Developer Continental Pacific plans to build 18 luxury beachfront homes on 1-acre plots along this strip of land behind Kahuku golf course.
Plans could alter Kahuku shoreline
Residents are split on a developer's idea for oceanfront homes
For now, 18 luxury oceanfront homes exist only on paper and in the imaginations of those who want to develop the Kahuku shoreline.
Wayne Panoke wants to keep it that way.
"I always felt the shorelines have never been there for developers. It's always been accessible for the people. Why should it be for a chosen few?" asked Panoke, executive director of Ilioulaokalani Coalition, a statewide group of Hawaiian cultural practitioners.
Panoke is on a crusade to convince others that keeping developments off the shorelines of Oahu is good for everybody.
He's been going before neighborhood boards across Oahu asking for support to keep development away from the Kahuku shoreline.
He is also planning a rally on the North Shore within the next couple weeks.
The proposed development is in an area near the municipal golf course that encompasses what is known as Kahuku Village V, where residents want to hold on to a laid-back plantation way of life.
ROBERT SHIKINA / RSHIKINA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Stella Muli vai sits in front of her three-bedroom home that she rents in Kahuku Village. Mulivai would like to buy her house, but said she doesn't support the developer who would sell her the house in exchange for support to build homes on the beach.
But many of the residents don't see the issue as black and white as Panoke does. By giving up a piece of paradise to build the luxury homes, they see a chance to keep their own modest homes.
So as Panoke collects signatures from residents decrying Florida-based developer Continental Pacific's plans to build the luxury oceanfront homes, others say it's time to move on.
LAST YEAR, Continental Pacific purchased 230 acres in Kahuku from the Estate of James Campbell, including a municipal golf course, Kahuku Hospital and 70 rental homes.
In exchange for building the oceanfront luxury homes, the company offered residents the opportunity to purchase their plantation homes for about $75,000, improve beach access for all, and contribute about $10 million to infrastructure projects.
In an October vote taken among the 72 families living in Phase V, 40 families supported the developer, while 25 of them opposed it.
"The people have spoken that they want to be homeowners at the value spoken about," said Noreen Cristobal, president of the Kahuku Village Association. She said the developer may hold the last chance for tenants to own the homes.
"If they choose not to support it, I don't know if the owners will flip it and sell it off. I want the project to work," she said.
But opponents question the tactics used by the developer to gain support for a 10-point plan, which includes the luxury homes on the beach.
"Their 10 points is to support them for their own stuff in areas not pertaining to here," said Stella Mulivai, a resident in the village.
Eric Morrison, Continental Pacific's manager for the Kahuku project, said the development is a community venture, created through the residents' ideas and backed by the mayor.
Morrison said the luxury homes will not affect the tax base and that allowing the residents to buy their homes helps the greater good of the community.
"This is the only way to make it go without changing the character of the community," he said. "If we're not successful with this plan, then we revert to what we can do with this land. We could sell off the golf course."
The developer which specializes in readying land for farmers, often lowers the density in development areas, Morrison said.
With 18 homes on 1-acre lots set 60 feet back from the shoreline, it's one of the least-dense plans in the area and is in keeping with the country-style living, Morrison said.
Despite the vote, the debate continues.
"They've been very personal, honest, and forthright. We don't have any reason to believe they're being dishonest with us," said Leslie Llanos, KVA Phase V committee chairwoman. "I guess they (opponents) want to stop the whole development, but stopping the developer would be really detrimental to low-income tenants. This deal doesn't come around often."
Margaret Primacio, who is also on the board, decried the developer's plan.
"Some of our people won't be able to afford (fee-simple ownership). Their lifestyle changes immensely with fee," she said.
Continental Pacific is seeking a 201H permit to allow for affordable housing units, which must be approved by the City Council. Zoning changes to the beach area also requires Council approval, which the developer will seek this fall.
As part of the plan, Continental Pacific will build two public beach parks where access is currently limited to community members. Beach users could then walk alongside the ocean homes, from beach to beach, Morrison said.
On a recent weekend, beachgoers behind Kahuku Golf Course included a group of people riding horses on the sand and Honolulu resident Lou Chang, who fished alone on the isolated beach.
When told about the proposed development in the area, he said, "There's not too many places you can go where you can't see buildings. Someday we'll lose what makes us special."