Ko Olina access
limit under fire

Council members say it may set a
precedent for similar situations

By Gordon Y.K. Pang

Two City Council members are angry that the developers of the Ko Olina Resort have not met a 15-year-old promise to turn over easements allowing public access to the four lagoons and other areas.

Council Zoning Chairman Duke Bainum and Public Works Chairman Steve Holmes accused Ko Olina LLC of stalling the process and suggested that its actions could set a precedent allowing developers to "negotiate" public access to shorelines.

But Lorrie Lee Stone, an attorney who represents Ko Olina, denied the charge.

"We are providing access; we have been since day one," she said. "This has nothing to do with access."

General public access is provided from dawn to dusk while fishing enthusiasts are allowed onto the site 24 hours a day, an arrangement that has been agreed to by Ko Olina owners, the Department of Planning and Permitting, area Councilman John DeSoto and the Kapolei Neighborhood Board.

Keith Kurahashi, a consultant for Ko Olina, said the access plan was worked out not only to meet the concerns raised by the community, but to spell out what the developer is to do.

Stone and Ko Olina want that policy memorialized as part of the landowners' special management area use permit.

But that's where the disagreement lies.

That, Bainum and Holmes say, would set a dangerous precedent and do irreparable harm to access rules.

"I don't have a problem with the agreement," Bainum said. "But I don't want to record it as part of the easement because then, in my mind, we would setting a legal precedent that the Council is endorsing limited shoreline access."

Ko Olina has argued that the city, like other government entities, limits the hours on certain parks and other recreational sites.

Bainum, however, said Ko Olina's developers promised to provide unlimited access as part of the approval process and should not be allowed to change its mind now, setting a precedent for others to do the same.

Holmes agreed. "Public access is one of the key areas you look at in an SMA. Now that they've built their project, they decided they want to change the rules of the game," he said. "They clearly want more restrictive public access."

The Council members said even though the community agreed to more limited access in this instance, that may not be the case later on.

"If you're a fisherman and you have customary practices where you fish along a coastline, you shouldn't be locked out after 11 because the hotel doesn't like riff-raff like you hanging out doing fishing, and that's the attitude of the private property owners," Holmes said. "They don't think the public has the right guaranteed by the state constitution. It's up to us on the City Council to uphold that public right."

Bainum is so upset by the situation that last week he persuaded his committee to delete a neighborhood commercial complex from a Ko Olina zoning application that is separate from the lagoons. Bainum let the rest of the application, including a Seagull Schools campus and fire station on the resort property, move forward to the full Council.

Bainum said the developer should not be allowed to put up new phases when it has not met its requirements for the first portion.

The issue is expected to come up at the next full Council meeting on Nov. 13.

Ko Olina Resort

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