Hawaii residents protest proposed cabins
By Kim Fassler
Advertiser East Honolulu Writer
By Kim Fassler
HAWAI'I KAI — A developer last night offered to scale back its proposal to build vacation cabins near the Ka Iwi shoreline to address community concerns, but East O'ahu residents said they remained opposed.
The offer was made at a Hawai'i Kai Neighborhood Board meeting attended by about 250 people at Haha'ione Elementary School.
Developer QRM LLC had proposed building 181 800-square-foot cabins with recreational facilities including tennis courts, swimming pools and lodges on two stretches of land along the Ka Iwi Coast.
The first, called Manu'uwai, would be built above the Hawai'i Kai Golf Course and the other, called Queen's Rise, would sit mauka of Kalaniana'ole Highway, across from the entrance to the Makapu'u Lighthouse trail.
But last night attorney William McCorriston, QRM's representative, told the crowd that if residents were willing to support the development at Manu'uwai, the developer would turn over the 98-acre Queen's Rise parcel to a nonprofit or other group for the purpose of preserving the land.
"I challenge you to find any developer who is willing to do this — to give away hundreds of acres of land worth millions and millions of dollars," McCorriston said.
But nearly everyone who spoke at the meeting seemed unreceptive to the offer.
"This is a magnificent natural resource that we have in our neighborhood," said Phil Estermann of the Save Sandy Beach Coalition. "Don't let a proposal like the one he (McCorriston) has made divide us. Stay strong all the way."
After the meeting, questions also lingered about the details of the proposal.
"Some major questions arise, such as we don't know specifically what proposal was presented," Hawai'i Kai Neighborhood Board chairman Greg Knudsen said. The board will vote Jan. 29 on the proposal, he said.
QRM first announced its intention to build the cabins in June 2006. But the application was never processed by the city Department of Planning and Permitting because it was incomplete and had failed to answer the secondary-use provision.
The community has fought since the 1980s to preserve the Ka Iwi Coast, the scenic shoreline from Hanauma Bay to Makapu'u. It's one of the last accessible stretches of open coastline on O'ahu, and proposals for private development in or near the area have been met with fierce opposition.
The original QRM proposal met strong opposition last year at a standing-room-only meeting of the Hawai'i Kai Neighborhood Board and at a town hall meeting at Kaiser High School. The Hawai'i Kai Neighborhood Board ultimately voted unanimously against the proposal.
Neighborhood boards are advisory panels only, and their decisions carry no weight of law. However, they are considered a barometer of public opinion in the areas they represent, and they can influence city decisions.
Last night, residents squeezed together at the cafeteria tables. Others passed out fliers and petitions against the development.
"They need to leave some things as nature made them," Liz Matthews, a member of the Ka Iwi Action Council and the Sandy Beach Initiative Coalition, said before the meeting.
"We're just little folks, and all we can do is say 'no,' " she said.
"I'm here because I'm so opposed to this project," Hawai'i Kai resident Carla Connell said. "I've lived in this area for 35 years and watched it deteriorate with continued construction. There are very few open areas left, and we have to stop this (project)."