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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Saturday, October 26, 2002

Keaukaha residents, state to meet over access dispute on Big Island

By Hugh Clark
Advertiser Big Island Bureau

HILO, Hawai'i — The state has called a community meeting for tomorrow in an attempt to resolve a dispute over shoreline access at Pu'u Maile Bay and King's Landing in Keaukaha.

A group called Malama Ka 'Aina Hana Ka 'Aina is using a metal gate to block access to the shoreline more than five miles east of downtown Hilo. Group leader Skippy Ioane told the Keaukaha Community Association recently that the move was meant to keep non-Hawaiians from "stealing our 'opihi and limu," said association President Patrick Kahawaiola'a.

Ioane is part of a contingent of 10 families believed to include about 50 individuals who have been living on undeveloped Department of Hawaiian Home Lands property south of King's Landing. While there has been no award of leases for the area, Ioane's group won a right of entry to occupy the site on a limited basis.

There are no public utilities there, and Ioane could not be reached to comment.

The area involved in the dispute over access includes 40 acres controlled by the state at Pu'u Maile, a 14-acre county property that is the future site of Lehia beach park, and a 1,270-acre Hawaiian Homes parcel that has never been subdivided.

At Radio Bay, closer to Hilo, the state earlier won a two-year court battle to evict families residing there in makeshift homes. James Weller of the Department of Land and Natural Resources said there are no plans at present to evict Ioane's group.

DLNR District Enforcement Chief Lawrence "Lenny" Terlep said, "We are hoping that communication and feedback from the community will strengthen ties between our department and the public."

The community meeting will take place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. tomorrow near the site of the former tuberculosis hospital known as Pu'u Maile.