6-foot gate blocks access to beach
|Photo gallery: 6-foot gate blocks public access to Kailua Beach|
By Catherine E. Toth
Advertiser Urban Honolulu Writer
By Catherine E. Toth
KAILUA — For 23 years, Kailua resident Wendy Watson-Erickson has been using the right-of-way on L'Orange Place to access Kailua Beach.
But in August, homeowners who live along the private road installed a 6-foot gate with a combination lock to stop the public from using the road to get to the beach.
This has upset some Kailua residents, who fear more of these gates restricting beach access will go up in beachfront communities along Kalaheo Avenue and restrict the few public right-of-ways that remain.
"This gated community mentality has gotten out of hand in Kailua," said Watson-Erickson, who believes the community should compromise by locking the gate only at night. "The beach belongs to all of us. ... This is not right."
The issue is slated to top the list of community concerns at tomorrow's 3-TALK meeting, a monthly talk-story session organized by Council Chairwoman Barbara Marshall, who represents the area.
Robert and Trudy Moncrief, who have lived on L'Orange Place since 1970, have opposed the gate, saying the road should be available for public access.
They understand their neighbors' concerns over recent burglaries in the area, increased vehicle and pedestrian traffic, noise and huge bonfires burning on the beach outside their homes.
In fact, they've had strangers break into their home twice in the last two years.
But the Moncriefs don't think installing a gate is the solution, especially when the gate, located at the end of the road, merely blocks access to the beach, not their homes.
"There's a feeling of exclusivity here, to be set off, to be private. I think that's the trend (in Kailua) now," Trudy Moncrief said. "That just doesn't appeal to us. We don't like this kind of thinking at all."
For years the issue of the beach access was debated among the 16 homeowners of the L'Orange Place Community Association, Moncrief said.
Richard Carvill of the L'Orange Place Community Association did not return a call for comment.
Though there long have been signs indicating L'Orange Place was a private road, beachgoers had been able to use the pathway to the beach.
Kailua resident Jennifer Eisenberger said she's disturbed by the growing number of gates blocking public access to the beach and its surf breaks.
"It seems like (Kailua) may be turning into a Kahala-like gated community," said Eisenberger, a graphic and Web designer. "And I don't think this is what Kailuans would want."
She's noticed that with fewer right-of-ways, more people are parking around her home on North Kalaheo Avenue, where there's still public access to the beach.
Now these homeowners are talking about putting up a gate, too, she said: "It's like a domino effect."
Rich Figel, who has used the beach access at L'Orange Place several times a week since he moved to Kailua in 1991, is worried that this gate — one of many on private roads along Kalaheo Avenue — is changing the landscape of Kailua.
He thinks it's more about entitlement than deterring crime. And, in the long run, it will hurt other neighborhoods in the area.
"Every time these gates go up, it puts more pressure on the few remaining access roads," said Figel, a screenwriter and freelance writer. "Then those people get fed up and more gates go up.
"It's not just a matter of convenience," he added. "It's a matter of distributing the burden equally. We don't want to see this happen anywhere else."
Reach Catherine E. Toth at email@example.com.