POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Oct 12, 2010
The City and County of Honolulu has taken an abrupt and suspicious 180-degree turn on its position regarding the value of land it strategically acquired for Haleiwa Regional Beach Park.
The Save Haleiwa Beach Park Coalition has been joined by the Oahu chapters of the Sierra Club and the Surfrider Foundation, the Sunset Beach Community Association, Hui O Hee Nalu, Defend Oahu Coalition, Hawaii's Thousand Friends and Life of the Land to support the retention of all important city coastal parklands.
The coalition so far has collected more than 1,500 petitions, and had the support of approximately 300 community members at the North Shore Neighborhood Board meeting on Sept. 28. In three short weeks, there are nearly 2,000 Facebook fans from around the world for "Save Haleiwa Beach Park."
These approximately four acres of parkland, adjacent to Jameson's Restaurant, were acquired by the city via eminent domain more than 40 years ago. It was just one of many parcels the city obtained in the late '60s and early '70s as part of a noble strategy to expand public, beachfront parks into a green belt surrounding our island, while land prices were still reasonable.
In direct contravention of this strategy, the city administration is being asked to sell this oceanfront public parkland in Haleiwa to developer and former co-chairman of Mufi Hannemann's 2004 mayoral transition team, Andy Anderson. Anderson wants to use it to build a hotel.
Anderson first inquired about purchasing Haleiwa Beach Park Mauka in 2006, not in May of 2010, as he likes to tell the public. In response to his initial 2006 inquiry to buy all of Haleiwa Beach Park Mauka, Mr. Anderson received a May 23, 2006, letter from the director of the Department of Budget and Fiscal Services, strongly recommending against the sale of the parcels. City rationale included the fact that the "subject parcels (were) considered to be an integral part of the Haleiwa Regional Park when developed," and, "although as yet undeveloped, it would defeat their purpose to sell these properties." The city further stated that these lands were not "surplus" to their needs.
On May 27, just after purchasing the Jameson's Restaurant property, Anderson, now as the "legal owner" and "an abutting neighbor," sent a letter of intent to the city offering to purchase the parcel next door to the restaurant. In response to Mr. Anderson, internal city correspondence indicates that the city administration has reversed its 2006 opposition to the sale to an astounding approval of the sale, even going as far as to include all four parcels of the Haleiwa Regional Park land in its sale approval.
Contrary to what Anderson would like the public to believe, these parcels are not "remnant" parcels but are highly valuable coastal parkland with at least a third of the property currently being used for parking by beach users and for storage of canoes by a local canoe club.
This could be just the tip of the iceberg. If the city allows this unprecedented sale of our coastal parklands to a private party, then what is to prevent similar sales of other yet-to-be-developed parklands?
Currently the North Shore has other prime coastal land being held for future park expansion to benefit the public, which could also be at risk of being sold off to other private parties if this deal goes through.
The Save Haleiwa Beach Park Coalition strongly supports the protection of these and other valuable parklands, developed or not, as highly valuable public resources.
Rather than sell such lands, the city should provide local organizations with the opportunity to care for and maintain such lands under its Adopt-A-Park program.