Ka Iwi coast gets added protection
by Andrew Gomes
Advertiser Staff Writer
The state Land Use Commission yesterday gave 215 acres of land along East O'ahu's Ka Iwi coast some added protection against development.
The commission voted to reclassify the property from an urban to conservation designation under the state's land use law.
Community members who decades ago fought plans by private interests to develop the area with hotels and golf courses encouraged the move, which puts another layer of protection on the land that is now owned by the state and has preservation zoning from the county.
The area reclassified stretches from Sandy Beach to Makapu'u Beach. Much of the land received $5 million in state improvements in 2006 that established a parking lot, put utility lines underground, created a clearly marked trail to Makapu'u lighthouse and barred off-road vehicles from driving in the Ka Iwi State Scenic Shoreline park preserve.
Years earlier, the state acquired the property from Kamehameha Schools to block plans to develop what represents one of only two open and accessible coastlines on O'ahu along with Ka'ena Point.
"This action ensures that the entire coastline, from Hanauma Bay to Makapu'u, will remain undeveloped well into the future," said Abbey Mayer, director of the state Office of Planning, whose office filed the petition for the reclassification in January 2009 on behalf of the Department of Land and Natural Resources.
Still, there is privately owned land in the area — above the Hawai'i Kai golf course and mauka of the state land above Queen's Beach — that could potentially be developed.
Developers controlling the 181-acre site in 2007 announced plans to build 180 large cabins and recreational amenities. The property is in the state's urban district and zoned for preservation by the county, which in some cases allows recreational-type uses on such land. Though an initial application to develop the site was rejected by the county, the potential remains for the land to be developed.
Gov. Linda Lingle, who has been involved in the reclassification effort for the state land, said the battle to preserve Ka Iwi for future generations isn't over. "My administration will continue to work with the community to preserve this important part of what makes Hawai'i so special," she said.