Panel eyes city help on beach gates
The Kailua board is against blockage of a private access
The Kailua Neighborhood Board has declined to take action on a gate installed at a private driveway blocking access to Kailua Beach but is asking the city to help prevent similar gates in the future.
At a meeting Thursday night at Kailua Recreational Center, nearly 200 residents listened to speakers testify about the gate at L'Orange Place, saying it divides the community, causes parking congestion, places pedestrians in danger because they have to walk along Kalaheo Avenue to reach the beach, and will lead to the closing of other private accesses. The audience cheered and applauded several speakers.
"I want to see gates opened. I want to see people walk three blocks down to the beach. I want to see Kailua stay Kailua," said Kailua resident Maya Von Geldern.
About two months ago the L'Orange Place Community Association installed the gate at the end of L'Orange Place, a private right of way that community members used to get to the beach.
In September, residents complained about the gates to the neighborhood board, but Chairwoman Kathy Bryant-Hunter said no action could be taken at that time because the issue was not on the agenda.
City Councilwoman Barbara Marshall, who represents the area, has since said the property owners are within their rights to install the gate because it is on private property.
At the board's Sustainability Committee meeting last month, two proposals were created to highlight the issue as a problem throughout Kailua, not only at L'Orange Place, said committee Chairman Chris Porter.
Both of the proposals were passed last night.
The first one requests the city Department of Permitting and Planning to notify the neighborhood board of requests for permits to install gates blocking access to beaches in Kailua before they are accepted.
The second measure asks the city to review all public rights of way in Kailua for accessible and safe conditions for the public. Kailua Beach has five public accesses.
Porter said Kailua residents hope they will not be surprised by another new gate. The second proposal addresses some of the complaints about public ways, which can be dark, dirty or dangerous. If the public accesses are better maintained, people might be more willing to use them, he said.
Acting board Chairman Chuck Prentiss said the board's position is against gates blocking private accesses, but it is still searching for a way to handle the community's complaints.
Ron Kienitz of Pilipu Place said people need to be aware of the property owners who face littering, vandalism and theft from people using the rights of way.
"One has to try to look at things from both sides. I just can't really believe how people can look at something only one way," said Kienitz, who added that he lives on a street with private access to the beach.
Paul Haring, former member of the Kuulei Community Association, said the association faced the same issue about 20 years ago when a private owner tried to put a gate on an access near 82 S. Kalaheo Ave.
"It's like deja vu," Haring said outside the meeting. He said through about three years of work, a committed group of residents gained the support of City Council members and then-Mayor Frank Fasi and eventually retained the Kalaheo public access.
"This is just a minor first step," he said about Thursday night's meeting. "It's not going to go anywhere until they get Barbara Marshall and Mayor Hannemann behind this."