Saturday, June 23, 2001

Subdivision plan stirs
familiar conflict

The issue: A proposal to build
new houses near Velzyland sets
a community against a developer.

A proposal to build a gated subdivision alongside a North Shore beach has pitted the community against a developer in a recurring conflict between the public's right to the shoreline and an investor's right to earn a return from his property. Some, perhaps most, would argue that exclusive homes are not the best use of the land fronting Kaunala Bay. The 20-odd acres where old houses and apartments now stand ideally should be converted to a park everyone could enjoy.

However, there is no easy way to reconcile this conflict or any other that will inevitably arise as long as the city continues piecemeal management of the island's valuable shoreline.

Although law requires that the public be able to get to all beaches and developer D.G. "Andy" Anderson has promised access will be provided, the reality is that gated communities by their nature discourage outsiders. People who pay for high-priced beachfront homes often extend their sense of ownership beyond their property lines; complaints about noise and litter from such homeowners are common.

Even with the present dwellings, getting to the shore is difficult because there are no public entryways. Surfers who treasure Velzyland, the nearby spot named after an old-time surfer, ignore "no trespassing" signs and slip between houses to reach the ocean. Some surfers themselves display a misplaced sense of ownership, intimidating those who don't live in the area or who are unfamiliar.

Residents of the present homes and apartments are among those opposing the project. Some say finding suitable housing in the low-rent range that most of them pay today would be impossible. They should realize, however, that although their dwellings aren't the luxury houses that would be built, they, too, have the exclusive benefit of living on the beach.

Neither side of the conflict is all right nor all wrong. The developer's plans would limit views, access and enjoyment of the beach, yet the present homes also advance the same restrictions.

The city, which last year designated the area for a park, has been hard pressed to find the money to buy the land with its $11.28 million price tag.

How officials resolve this matter may require bold action, such as passing a law to prohibit any further shoreline development. The law requiring beach access is a good one, but it should be viewed as just one aspect of a basic philosophy of public ownership of the shoreline.

Published by Oahu Publications Inc., a subsidiary of Black Press.

Don Kendall, President

John Flanagan, publisher and editor in chief 529-4748;
Frank Bridgewater, managing editor 529-4791;
Michael Rovner,
assistant managing editor 529-4768;
Lucy Young-Oda, assistant managing editor 529-4762;

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