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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, September 12, 2001

Council OKs Ka Iwi development

By Suzanne Roig
Advertiser East Honolulu Bureau

Six years of planning culminated yesterday in final approval of the state's improvement plans for Ka Iwi — one of the last accessible stretches of open coastline on O'ahu.

By unanimous vote the City Council adopted the state Department of Land and Natural Resources request for a special management area use permit. That means the state can now start work on burying utility lines along Kalaniana'ole Highway, build two parking lots and change the scenic lookout by Makapu'u. The state hopes to begin the work next fall.

"I want to thank the state Department of Land and Natural Resources and the consultant for listening to the community, the various associations and the Waimanalo and Hawai'i Kai neighborhood boards," said City Councilman John Henry Felix. "As a result, we have a better plan."

The plan was scaled down after preservationists and members of the community urged the state to keep the area as natural as possible. Both the Waimanalo and Hawai'i Kai neighborhood boards approved the plan, but with reservations that included limiting the use of concrete.

One of the biggest issues for preservationists was the size of the two parking lots, one for hikers and one for visitors. The state revamped its plan by making the lots smaller and by moving the access roads.

That move appeased those who have worked for 15 years to preserve this stretch of rugged coastline.

"The community absolutely does not want any other development phases," said Kelly Washino, a spokeswoman for the East Honolulu Community Coalition. "We hope that what happened at Hanauma Bay won't happen at Ka Iwi."

At the same time the state is moving forward to preserve Ka Iwi, the city is building an education center, gift shop and snack bar on the edge of the fish preserve at Hanauma Bay.

Ka Iwi has been largely undeveloped while the rest of O'ahu and Hawai'i Kai has sprouted high-rises and subdivisions.

The state was able to move forward with the Ka Iwi plan — adopted after much public debate in 1996 — after it completed a purchase of the land from Kamehameha Schools this year.

The state received a $5 million grant from the federal government to assist in the purchase, but as a condition of the money must make improvements to the roadway, bury the utility lines to clear the view planes and make the lookout safer for visitors.

The entire plan is ambitious and could ultimately include a visitor center, a cultural center, restrooms, picnic areas, trails and wetland restoration. But the state has no plans to move forward with those improvements at this time.

"We hope the development stops at this point," Felix said. "That's all the community wants."