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Bill would have state buy Turtle Bay land

Two Senate panels approve a measure that would urge the governor to negotiate a deal

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 05:41 p.m. HST, Feb 28, 2013

Hawaii senators are moving forward with a bill to direct the governor to purchase land owned by Turtle Bay Hotel and Resort on the North Shore.

Lawmakers say that Hawaii governors have sought to acquire the land for years, but that something needs to be done to speed up the process.

The Senate Committee on Judiciary and Labor and the Committee on Ways and Means approved a bill Wednesday that would direct the governor to continue negotiations for the property. The committees removed a highly criticized provision that would have allowed the state to use eminent domain.

The bill’s supporters include hundreds of individuals and grass-roots organizations who say that government action is necessary to protect Oahu’s North Shore from turning into another Waikiki.

Many are worried about how the hotel’s planned expansion could affect the rural area and want to “keep the country country.”

But opposition to the proposal from union members and the Turtle Bay company has been loud.

Maria Falevai, a housekeeper at Turtle Bay, was one of dozens of hotel employees and others who flocked to the state Capitol on Wednesday to protest the bill.

Falevai said she’s worried about what the bill could mean for the availability of jobs on the North Shore. She said that before starting at Turtle Bay four years ago, she used to have to travel for hours by bus to get to Kalihi for work.

“I had to leave at 4 a.m. and take two buses,” Falevai said. “Sometimes I wouldn’t get home until 9 p.m. and my kids wouldn’t even see me.”

Danna Holck, general manager of the hotel, said the company provides important jobs and housing for North Shore residents.

The company provided transportation to bring employees and other community members to the Capitol to make their voices heard, she said.

But the company’s strong presence became a sore point during the Wednesday hearing on the bill.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Clayton Hee told hearing attendees that he had been surprised and put off by how opponents acted when the bill was considered Friday. Opponents wearing matching T-shirts had stood up in unison to face lawmakers when the bill’s title was announced.

“Let me be clear: This isn’t Aloha Stadium,” Hee said. “This isn’t a neighborhood board meeting. This is the Senate.”

Holck said the opponents had simply been showing solidarity against the bill. Sen. Sam Slom agreed.

“Certainly decorum is important, but democracy is also important,” said Slom, who voted against the measure.

Several other senators also opposed the bill or voted with reservations. Both Hee and Senate Ways and Means Chairman David Ige voted in favor of the bill.

The bill will now go to the full Senate for consideration.

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Mythman wrote:
Interesting assumptions being made on the part of the North Shore drug dealers who are trying to preserve their territory against outsiders who might cut into the monopoly they have over drugs in the surfing empire they are part of. They are assuming the governor is on their side. They are giving away any power they have to negotiate changes with the management at Turtle Bay that suit their agenda. Tsk Tsk, bad move. Pot is going to be legalized so why the concern? Oh, you don't just sell pot, you also sell cocaine and batu when you need the cash, right?
on February 28,2013 | 02:10AM
bender wrote:
So you're saying all us North Shore residents are drug deals? The protests against Turtle Bay expansion comes from a wide spectrum of area residents.
on February 28,2013 | 04:58AM
1coconut wrote:
God what a half brained post. You been living under a rock or what. The real issue is traffic. Without major roadway expansion any new hotels would just make a bad traffic problem worse.
on February 28,2013 | 06:06AM
Mythman wrote:
Traffic is bad all over the islands, even in neighborhoods where drug dealers do not want any more competition.
on February 28,2013 | 08:42AM
wiliki wrote:
Use of eminent domain is too strong. Property owners should have some rights. But the main thing is that if the state intends to change the use as an office building on the north shore-- where there is no demand for that on the north shore-- then many of the current hotel workers will lose their jobs.

Luxury hotels provide good high paying hotel jobs. Recognition of the potential for more such hotels on the north shore means that such development needs to be planned for. It means a lot of jobs and money coming into the state for the small land area that is used for the hotel. We're NOT talking urban sprawl here. And workers could be brought in by rail it there were a sufficient number that worked there. The country could be kept country if workers could get from Ewa to the North Shore as they could to Ala Moana by rail.

on February 28,2013 | 02:53AM
bender wrote:
Hotels do not provide high paying jobs, they provide service jobs. And no one says the hotel will be shuttered. This is to avert the expansion the hotel wants to do. But you have to wonder what the decison makers were thinking when the hotel was first approved. The same thing was averted in another North Shore area (Kaiaka Bay) when then Rep. Ollie Lunasco was able thwart Herbert Horita's hotel at the site which is now a park.
on February 28,2013 | 05:01AM
wiliki wrote:
These are a lot higher paying than jobs in cheap hotels or other minimum wage jobs. Luxury hotels are willing to pay more for good work and trustworthy workers. That's why visitors want to stay at luxury hotels. It's a very pleasant experience.

Also many workers at the hotel would be commuting to Waikiki everyday if there were no Turtle Bay Hotel. They and their families pretty much support the hotel.

on February 28,2013 | 11:07AM
Manoa_Fisherman wrote:
When thugs take over the control of government, their actions clearly reveal the kind of people they are when they seek to trample free speech rights. To get scared of a few t-shirts with slogans is a sign of very weak minded person who should not be allowed to be in power in this State. This kind of mentality is similar to the Huey Longs and Boss Tweeds, where political dissent or protests were met with political intimidation and later physical violence to enforce their will on those disagreed with them. Lets not start going down that road!
on February 28,2013 | 03:04AM
tiki886 wrote:
First of all, the State doesn't have the money to buy real estate and keep it in an unproductive status. Next, even though 'eminent domain' has been dropped in the Bill's language, it still has the stink of government takeover.

Remember, "A government powerful enough to give you everything you want, is a government powerful to take everything you have."

on February 28,2013 | 03:16AM
loquaciousone wrote:
Where is the State going to find money to buy resort land? Aren't we supposed to be broke? Don't we have billions in unfunded liabilities? Was Dorothy walking in front of Toto or behind on the yellow brick road?
on February 28,2013 | 03:25AM
mokebla wrote:
Taxes baby and more taxes, remember Hawai'i you all voted party so quit crying enjoy the party. :-O~!
on February 28,2013 | 03:54AM
loquaciousone wrote:
I voted in Hawaii not in Taxes.
on February 28,2013 | 06:37AM
bender wrote:
Rezone it to Ag Land, then it'll be cheaper, not much, but a little cheaper.
on February 28,2013 | 05:02AM
onevoice82 wrote:
"Protect the North Shore from becoming another Waikiki"????? Are you kidding me? Do you actually believe that statement, or are you just sensationalizing? That's what I thought!
on February 28,2013 | 04:38AM
wiliki wrote:
It's a real possibility. Luxury hotels provide high paying jobs while the residents in the area keep trying to kick out BnBs and vacation rentals and cheap hotels. People really really want to go on holiday in Hawaii. If you want locals making the money from the tourists instead of big hotel chains or international huis, then you should be supporting BnBs, vacation rentals, and cheap small hotels.
on February 28,2013 | 11:14AM
BigIdeas4U wrote:
Dear Senate: Don't waste our public resources in this way. The resort is finally coming in a smaller scale that makes more sense for the North Shore. Fix the roads instead! Have you driven the roads lately? The highway is 75 years old. We cannot live in the past. Even without TBR, it's obvious that we will need eminent domain and public dollars to widen Kamehameha Highway or build an alternate bypass road. Be smart and don't waste your Leg time and our few dollars going backwards.
on February 28,2013 | 05:06AM
serious wrote:
BigI---good point, if the State has the money use it to widen the road.
on February 28,2013 | 05:23AM
palani wrote:
And why would state ownership of the land be preferable? Might the property ultimately be handed over to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, resulting in no real public access by the majority of residents? And why was this proposed by the Senate Senate Committee on Judiciary and Labor, chaired by Senator Hee?
on February 28,2013 | 05:14AM
KamaiianaGuy wrote:
If the state has $100 million to spend on the North Shore, how about they use it to fix the roads, clean up the parks, improve the schools and add more police/fire? Kind of a contradiction that they want to develop public land in open space in order to generate state revenue (via the PLDC), and then they want to spend state revenue to BUY private property in order to preserve open space. It's old government two-step, I guess.
on February 28,2013 | 05:22AM
yhls wrote:
The state should buy the Turtle Bay property and settle the North Shore development issue once and for all. The last thing Oahu needs is another Waikiki on the North Shore. The millions of tourists who come to Oahu for the first time always ask the same question: why is it so over developed? "I feel like in New York or Los Angeles." The North Shore has already seen it's share of development over the past three decades or so. All these people who would sacrifice the lifestyle and natural beauty of the North Shore for some menial job don't realize that if we kill the goose that laid the golden egg, there will be no jobs. Tourists will stop coming.
on February 28,2013 | 06:05AM
speakingtruth wrote:
Can't agree more. If one lives along the Kam Hwy, one knows how busy this road has become. Plan well first before the tourists stop coming because of over development.
on February 28,2013 | 06:44AM
tiki886 wrote:
Didn't you read the other day's article? Tourists love coming to Oahu with its concrete and asphalt jungle over the neighbor islands. Development is why tourists love coming to Oahu!
on February 28,2013 | 07:07AM
pakeheat wrote:
Yeah and wait till the see the elevated rail up and running, LOL.
on February 28,2013 | 09:09AM
loquaciousone wrote:
I hear that Larry Ellison, Stevie Tyler, and Oprah Winfrey is eyeing the Turtle Bay area for a resort for the rich and famous.
on February 28,2013 | 06:40AM
Mythman wrote:
You left out Pierre and Steve Case
on February 28,2013 | 08:46AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
Any time that the State can acquire and preserve precious land like this it is a good investment. Generations to come will thank lawmakers for taking this land out of the hands of greedy developers and preserving it for all residents. Legislators, don't get bullied by a loud few who stand to personally benefit....vote for the future generations and preserve the land.
on February 28,2013 | 06:59AM
loquaciousone wrote:
I agree with you. The State should buy all the land along the shorelines to prevent gated communities from blocking off access to the public. This should have been done long ago but with leadership with no foresight we've managed to allow private developers and entities to monopolize our shorelines. Now when I go fishing, I have to choose between Tamashiros or Young Market.
on February 28,2013 | 07:08AM
bleedgreen wrote:
Public access to beaches has been a pronblem on the North Shore for 50 years. Private land owners have disguised designated public access; allow dogs to attack people attempting to fish along the shoreline, etc. So I say, let the government acquire the land so 'they' can deny the public access. At least there will be a forum for complaints.
on February 28,2013 | 08:07AM
wiliki wrote:
Good access to beaches has not helped in the development of Leeward Oahu. Beach facilities still su*k.
on February 28,2013 | 11:18AM
tiki886 wrote:
Are developers actually the "greedy" party or is it the government who is "greedy" for taking so much taxes put of our pockets and squandering it on government unions?
on February 28,2013 | 07:09AM
loquaciousone wrote:
on February 28,2013 | 07:45AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
on February 28,2013 | 10:36AM
TK451 wrote:
The State does not have enough money to pay for their existing facitlities and services. Are we going to next have a surcharge on salt (or anything else someone can come up with as they did with sugar) for health reasons but the money will be diverted for other uses such as buying land?
on February 28,2013 | 07:37AM
uth50 wrote:
the turtle bay hotel is just another plantation context for the rich corporations to advance their slave mentality ideas. low paying wages and lack of benefits is a joke to any hard working human being today. if you inquired into the history of turtle bay and its problems, nothing has change for the little guy and his/her job situation. investors with big money comes in and make their money and leave the community with the same situation over and over again. broken promises and empty words for the future.
on February 28,2013 | 07:42AM
wiliki wrote:
The owners need to make a profit to keep the resort in operation. The jobs at the hotel are better paying than many of the minimum wage or low paying jobs in the community The real problem is not the hotel but the management that often tries to bust the union. Make no mistake about this: workers like their jobs at the hotel.
on February 28,2013 | 11:22AM
bleedgreen wrote:
This is your great public bus sytem at work - "“I had to leave at 4 a.m. and take two buses,” Falevai said. “Sometimes I wouldn’t get home until 9 p.m. and my kids wouldn’t even see me.”"
on February 28,2013 | 08:00AM
wiliki wrote:
Otherwise, she'd have to be homeless in Waikiki during the week days to keep her job.
on February 28,2013 | 11:24AM
Kalaheo1 wrote:
With the specter of the PLDC still hanging around, and the sort of people we have in that building, I wouldn't put it past them to buy the land for $100 million and then "partner" with Sheraton, Westin, or Hilton. You know, to creat jobs and help the economy....
on February 28,2013 | 08:25AM
Mythman wrote:
the drug dealers made a lot of money starting in the 1960s. They laundered the cash through real estate investment on the North Shore. They rent these properties out as rentals to surfers and to tourists. A turtle bay resort competes with the forty to fifty million dollars of real estate owned on the North Shore around Turtle Bay by the drug dealers. they also laundered the funds they made selling dope using music and surfing. There are facts and anyone supporting those opposing turtle bay are in bed with criminals and worse. There is at least one murder involving drugs in the sixties by the same people who today do not want competition.
on February 28,2013 | 08:41AM
loquaciousone wrote:
“Let me be clear: This isn’t Aloha Stadium,” Hee said. “This isn’t a neighborhood board meeting. This is the Senate.” In continuing, Hee also added, "when we want a circus we don't need any outside help. We're perfectly capable of making fools of ourselves."
on February 28,2013 | 09:00AM
loquaciousone wrote:
“Let me be clear: This isn’t Aloha Stadium,” Hee said. “This isn’t a neighborhood board meeting. This is the Senate.” In continuing, Hee also added, "when we want a circus we don't need any outside help. We're perfectly capable of making fools of ourselves."
on February 28,2013 | 09:00AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
He then strapped on some stilts, painted his face and added a rubber nose, then left.
on February 28,2013 | 10:35AM
wiliki wrote:
He has a point. He could exclude them from the meeting for their behavior.
on February 28,2013 | 11:25AM
loquaciousone wrote:
You do this very well wikiwiki
on February 28,2013 | 02:04PM
kainalu wrote:
Where does this fr'ck'n "State" get all their money from to keep buying stuff? Can we expect a tax on salty chips next?
on February 28,2013 | 02:36PM
poidragon wrote:
What complete Idiocy! With Federal cuts looming on the horizon, what the heck is our state legislature thinking, wanting to buy the land from Turtle bay? Our state is still reeling from the financial recession, many of our citizens are continuing to experience hardship and are barely holding it together financially and our worthless state legislature wants to spend more finances that it does not have in hand, on this bullcrap? ENOUGH IS ENOUGH, between the greed and avarice shown by Gov Abercrombie and the legislative idiocy being practiced by our politicians, the people have had enough and we will voice our displeasure at the voting booth!
on February 28,2013 | 03:31PM
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