Letters 3-24-2013


Kohanaiki

Keep the coastal jeep trail open to public

For generations, Kohanaiki (Pine Trees) has been the beating heart of much of the Kona community’s life and living Hawaiian culture.

After nearly two decades fighting proposed development, the community won many battles but lost the war to a private golf course and luxury housing project. Environmental degradation incomparable to any that has occurred through generations of the land’s passive use is now beginning, along with threats to public access.

For 60 years, the public has been able to drive all the way to the south end of Kohanaiki for camping, picnicking, subsistence fishing and other recreational and cultural activities.

But soon that access could change. The large southern portion of the “public park” from the surfing bay (Wawahiwaa) to the south end of Kohanaiki, where a “members-only” restaurant, pool and other amenities are being built, could become more like an exclusive playground for the rich — if vehicular access is stopped.

The community’s grief over the unraveling of one of our most cherished community gathering places shows every day. Meanwhile, commitments are broken by the developer (i.e., advertising surf lessons at Pine Trees when it was agreed no commercial activity would be allowed in the park) and structures built on the beach, despite knowing that significant beach loss could follow.

What feel like losses to our community are trumpeted on the developer’s website as being awesome for faraway, potential investors. It doesn’t care what it’s doing to our home will make its public relations claims of Kohanaiki’s natural bounty obsolete.

When the developer talks “community” on its website, it has nothing to do with the living, breathing Kona community that’s being brushed off with platitudes and copies of agreements that never should have existed. Those agreements never would have existed if they had been requested under today’s land use law, including the Kona Community Development Plan, which requires minimum 1,000-foot shoreline setbacks for development.

Just because Kohanaiki Shores LLC has a legal right to close the south portion of the jeep trail to cars, build its golf course and private clubhouse harmfully and intrusively on the shoreline, and plant contaminating, out-of-place landscaping wherever it sees fit, doesn’t make it right.

The rules it is meant to follow are the bare minimum of what it must legally to do for public benefit. It could choose to do better.

Instead of doing the bare minimum, Kohanaiki Shores LLC could maintain archeologically sensitive vehicular access to the farthest southern part of Kohanaiki.

That better choice would also provide needed parking (yes, even shave a bit off the fairway to keep parking off the beach strand), increased car camping opportunities and safer exit from the beach in case of emergency. Access to the shoreline could also be 24/7, as it is at many public parks on Oahu and Kauai. Will the developer do it?

Vehicular access to the southern end of the jeep trail could be eliminated as soon as end of this month. You can help pressure the landowners and the county to preserve the public access that’s been part of the Kona way of life for generations.

Sign the petition online at signon.org/sign/protect-public-access?source=c.em.cp&r_by=7312816, or catch up with someone at the beach who has a hard copy.

Petitions will be presented to Kohanaikai Shores LLC CEO Saul Pinto and Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi. Hopefully, our elected officials will take the lead to ensure public access is left open, while taking precautions to protect sensitive archeological sites and the community’s new halau.

The dignity of our community has been severely infringed upon by the actions of Kohanaiki’s landowners, but our community can still make a difference in keeping our public park as public as possible. Your voice counts.

Janice Palma-Glennie

Kailua-Kona

An observation

Are taxes paid?

Recently there was a front page story stating that “there were businesses that did not pay taxes because the businesses were small businesses.” How about a really big small business operating at Kahaluu Beach?

Today I counted 50 plus surf lessons at Kahaluu Bay. The lessons cost a minimum of $99 per person and $175 per private lessons. These small-business people operate off the side of the road and the park for the surfing lessons. Many times, an instructor will have multiple students and could easily make big money. The small-business people solicit customers from the big hotels and offer incentive packages to learn to surf at Kahaluu Bay. It sounds like a business.

Who receives the business tax revenues?

Indeed, we have a big business going on at Kahaluu Beach where the signs are posted “no business activity on this beach.”

Wanda McManus

Kailua-Kailua