Friday, January 11, 2008


There is always some big time developer out there who wants to make a few bucks and destroy what little piece of nature may be left in the neighborhood, isn't there.

In Hawaii a an entire neighborhood has been fighting one such plan since the 80s and they are still at it.

QRM LLC developers wants to build 180 "cabins" on one of the last bits of undeveloped land in the area. This is the developers second try. The city rejected the developer's proposal in 2006 because it failed to meet requirements under the land's preservation zoning.

These are not quaint little cabins. Greg Knudsen, chairman of the Hawaii Kai Neighborhood Board, said the plans show structures that look like two-story townhouses, along with tennis courts, swimming pools and clubhouses.

KHNL reports hundreds of people (some of whom are pictured above) packed in a Hawaii Kai elementary school were nearly unanimous Tuesday night in a show of hands rejecting the proposal by developer QRM LLC. "It would spoil the natural beauty of the valley for what? The developer will build then pocket their money then move on," said Hawaii Kai resident Franco Mancassola.

"We don't want it. The neighborhood board has rejected it already and they're apparently trying a new route in order to try and still have it built," said Hawaii Kai resident Sasha Kadona.

Sensing defeat at the community meeting, QRM and landowner Maunalua Associates, a subsidiary of Zurich Insurance, would give land mauka of Queen's Rise to a nonprofit conservation organization instead of building 98 cabins on it -- if the community would agree to 83 cabins on a second parcel in Mauuwai Valley, which is near Kalama Valley.

The folks weren't buying it. According to the Star Bulletin the unexpected offer received no support when there was a call for a show of hands. A later call for a show of opposition had nearly all attendees raising hands.

Phil Estermann, of the Save Sandy Beach and Ka Iwi Coast coalitions, called the attempt "deja vu all over again." He said the proposal evoked past battles to stop condos at Queen's Beach and a hotel near Sandy Beach.

"It's sort of a sophisticated, but not too sophisticated, effort" to call the development "vacation cabins," he said. "Even us common people can see through this one."

And these "common people" should serve as an example that it is possible to stop the big buck developers from ruining our lives. They have not only been fighting, they've been winning. This issue was preceded, as mentioned above, by successful opposition in the 1980s to proposals to construct condominiums at Queen's Beach and a hotel near Sandy Beach.

Hang in their folks.

The following is from the Honolulu Advertiser.

Hawaii residents protest proposed cabins

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)."

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