A City Council committee has blocked an attempt to force the Kahala Mandarin Oriental Hawaii Hotel to add free public parking stalls for beachgoers.
turns down request for
free beach parking at
By Gordon Y.K. Pang
Hotel officials are seeking from the Council a special management area use permit for a $10.2 million renovation and expansion project. Improvements include expansion of an existing spa and fitness center, adding five new oceanfront suites as a third-story addition to its lagoon wing, adding a second level to an existing poolside snack bar, expansion of an existing pool, and construction of an open-air tennis court and administrative offices on the property's northwest corner.
Jeff Mikulina, director of the Sierra Club, Hawaii chapter, told the Council Zoning Committee that it should require the hotel to provide 25 free parking spaces for nonguests who want access to the beach. The committee would not consider the request.
The Zoning Committee moved out the hotel's permit request without additional conditions related to access.
Mikulina said that even though the beach fronting the resort is open to the public, nonguests must either park half a mile away at Waialae Beach Park or pay $6 an hour to park in the hotel's lot.
Kaimuki resident Reese Liggett, a longtime access advocate, also called for the changes.
The two men also sought a condition banning the hotel from placing chairs, boats or other beach gear outside its property.
"The perception is it's not a public beach," Mikulina said.
But officials with the city Planning and Permitting Department said they do not believe the additions warranted any changes in access. They said after the meeting they found no need to recommend that the hotel be required to improve beach access.
Jan Goessing, the hotel's general manager, and Wolfgang Krueger, its resort manager, said they have not had a problem with access, noting that public accessways to the public beach are clearly marked.
Goessing acknowledged that "we need to be more disciplined" in ensuring employees don't place beach paraphernalia outside of property lines. But he noted that nothing keeps, or should keep, hotel guests from placing chairs and other gear on the beach just outside the hotel's borders.
East Honolulu Councilman John Henry Felix said he sees people appearing to be nonguests walking freely throughout the beach and hotel grounds.
Councilman Duke Bainum, who represents the Kahala area, said a recently formed task force will look at a variety of the hotel's parking issues, which have been a concern of area residents for some time.
City & County of Honolulu