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Barrier opponents sue over restricted access to Laniakea

By Marcel Honoré


A collection of North Shore residents and surfers started the new year Thursday with a lawsuit against state transportation officials to remove the controversial new parking barriers at Laniakea Beach.

The Circuit Court suit on behalf of an unincorporated group called the Save Laniakea Coalition argues that the state Department of Transportation should have obtained a special permit for the concrete barriers because Lani­akea is in the state's protected coastal Special Management Area.

The suit further contends that DOT should have done environmental assessments of the barriers before installing them, to gauge how the move would affect public access to the popular beach. The barriers are part of the state's larger, long-term Kame­ha­meha Highway realignment plan at Laniakea — and as such they're subject to the same approval steps, said Bill Saunders, a Hono­lulu-based attorney representing Save Laniakea.

The worsening North Shore traffic woes that stem from Laniakea — and how to solve the problem — have gripped a community that's already dealing with issues such as future development, a growing population and the rural area's changing character. About 600,000 visitors are estimated to visit Laniakea each year, many to marvel at the green sea turtles that come ashore there.

The state installed the barriers two days before Christmas to block cars, vans and tour buses from parking along a 1,000-foot beachfront stretch on the mauka side of Kame­ha­meha Highway. The move aims to ease the traffic and safety hazards caused by visitors who indiscriminately cross the highway there.

"This isn't a solution. It's a punishment," former big-wave surfing champion Reno Abellira, one of the suit's plaintiffs, said Thursday. Abellira and other opponents of the barriers contend they unfairly block beach access and that the community deserves a better, more practical solution. "This problem isn't going to go away; it's only going to get worse," Abellira said.

He's joined in the suit by prominent local surfers and watermen Keone Dow­ning, Mark Cunningham and Jock Sutherland, as well as Sunset Beach resident Bill Martin, a surfer who uses a wheelchair and relies on Laniakea as one of the few North Shore sites he can access.

DOT officials said they were unaware that the suit was being filed Thursday, and that they won't comment on any litigation. They've previously described the barriers as "short-term" and "temporary" while also acknowledging they could stay there for years if they prove effective. DOT last week said it would monitor the barriers for a month and then decide whether to keep them.

The barriers come after years of study, community discussion and about $1.7 million in state funding — but little action.

"Is it working? I would say, to a certain extent, yes," North Shore Neighborhood Board member Carol Philips said Thursday. "But nobody in the community likes the idea of blocking off the parking lot as the solution."

Both the neighborhood board and the Laniakea Task Force, a committee created by the state, have voted against the barriers. But the structures did gain some early, limited support when officials pitched them as the only viable solution, Philips said. "I think that is the frustration with the community. While we need traffic relief, there were no alternatives considered at all."

Others, including Abellira, say the barriers haven't solved the traffic jams and safety hazards. Instead, they say, the barriers have merely pushed those problems away from Laniakea, as visitors instead park along Kame­ha­meha Highway's narrow shoulders and walk to the beach.

And since the barriers were installed, opponents have taken to social media sites to post photos of cars inching along Kame­ha­meha Highway on both sides of Laniakea, which they say show the traffic problem remains. "All they've really done is pushed up the congestion," Abellira said. At a news conference, he implored Gov. Neil Abercrombie and Mayor Kirk Caldwell to make the issue a bigger priority.

Philips, in a separate phone interview, agreed.

"The government has the ability to act quickly if they're motivated," she said.

Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

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Kate53 wrote:
The barriers prevent parking, not public access. Park elsewhere and take The Bus to the beach or walk.
on January 3,2014 | 03:55AM
Kalaheo1 wrote:
When you ban parking, you prevent access. There is no Laniakea Beach stop on the bus route and you can't take your surfboard on the bus anyway.

Our State DOT spent millions of dollars "studying" the issue and then listened to no one and came up with the worst possible solution and has no plans to for a actual fix, like moving the road slightly mauka to allow the same type of access they have at Sunset and Makaha.

Sadly, it's us taxpayers who will pay to defend this lawsuit against the inept DOT and citizens try to regain access to one of our most popular north shore beaches.

on January 3,2014 | 06:16AM
gsr wrote:
Regret to inform you that there are bus stops east and west bound at Laniakea, however I agree with your comments. The traffic back up is as long as before but now goes all the way to Chuns.
on January 3,2014 | 06:23AM
Kalaheo1 wrote:
Thank you. I had forgotten about that.
on January 3,2014 | 08:17AM
MakikiView wrote:
Sorry, no. Blocking parking is NOT blocking access. Try again.
on January 3,2014 | 06:27AM
Kalaheo1 wrote:
MakikiView wrote: "Sorry, no. Blocking parking is NOT blocking access. Try again."

You will recall that many hotels like Ko'olinaon Oahu, Mauna Kea Beach on Hawaii Island and the Westin and St Regis on the north shore of Kauai, as well many others throughout the islands have public parking facilities be to do otherwise would essentially block access to the beach.

This is a beach used by many visitors and local families with ample room for parking. It is not the beach-goer'ss fault that our state DOT and DLNR is too imcompetent to redirect the road 30 feet mauka. Once access is gone, it never ever comes back.

on January 3,2014 | 08:27AM
motoxdad wrote:
Open a season where turtles are free game. face it, the green turtle is no longer endangered, but more of a pest. it is the reason for the traffic and not the surf. I live, and was raised on the north shore and Lanikeas never was this way till the turtles started beaching there, and every tour group made a fortune off of the honu. it's simple, fallow the old Hawaiian way and keep everything balanced.
on January 3,2014 | 07:36PM
Mythman wrote:
Rain on the parade: hustlers trying to make a name for themselves so they will be well known when they run for elected office. Using this newspaper and burning through government monies to advance their own personal agendas by pretending to be responsible for fixing the same mess they made in the first place. Motivations matter. Blocked surfers need to blame the North shore neighborhood board and its past and present members, some of whom got "elected" with a mere handful of votes. Kam Schools owns the land involved on the beach side.
on January 3,2014 | 04:24AM
safari wrote:
Wasting tax payers monies. Ride your bike...
on January 3,2014 | 04:47AM
Kalaheo1 wrote:
Ride your bike from where? Mililani? Aina Haina? Ewa? Kaneohe?

The state DOT has restricted access to this beach by removing parking. That's simply unacceptable.

on January 3,2014 | 06:19AM
MakikiView wrote:
So should beachfront homeowners elsewhere on the North Shore or, say, Kailua and Kahala now be made to provide parking for beachgoers? What about beaches that naturally take a hike to get to? Should the city or state be mandated to pave a parking lot for you? You keep saying blocking off the parking is blocking access, but it's really just convenience. A surfer who respects life, land and the sea will find a way. Obviously, safety and protecting the beach from overuse is not a priority to you, not as long as you get your parking space.
on January 3,2014 | 06:33AM
Slow wrote:
The City and County has been complicit in denying parking in many upscale communities. I lived on Lanikai beach for 40 years. Over the years, as aloha waned, easements were landscaped and planted. The parking was there and now it's not. Barricades are an ill-conceived and ugly way to solve the problem.
on January 3,2014 | 07:46AM
Kalaheo1 wrote:
MakikiView wrote: "So should beachfront homeowners elsewhere on the North Shore or, say, Kailua and Kahala now be made to provide parking for beachgoers?"

To be fair those locations have both on street parking and beach parks. Kailua beach has two beach parks and multiple public accesses as well as on street parking if you park outside the beach parks, as does the north shore. I can't speak to Kahala, because I never, ever go to the beach there, but the Yelp reviews reference on street parking.


on January 3,2014 | 08:34AM
postmanx wrote:
People enjoying the beach is a beautiful thing and should be encouraged. Children for example love, love, love going to the beach and spending hours playing in the sand and shore line.
on January 3,2014 | 09:14AM
kahuku01 wrote:
Everyone will never be happy with the solution especially for those that are always nit-picking and complaining about everything else. The state DOT have reacted with this quick-fix because of ongoing snarling traffic and inconsiderate pedestrians complaints from residents of Laniakea and vehicle drivers. The state DOT will be damned if they did and damned if they didn't. Either way, whine, whine, whine because not everything is to their liking. They want their cake and eat it too! What a bunch of immature people especially reverting to their simple solution...sue job, instead of compromising and being patient for a better permanent solution.
on January 3,2014 | 03:42PM
ColinKona wrote:
Almost nothing, in Hawaii, is worth more protecting and even enhancing than public accessways to our coastline and the waters beyond. It's for everyone, including friends, children, family visitors - not just surfers, fishermen, turtle-lovers, photographers and tourists. Public access laws and court rulings are strong in Hawaii for these and more reasons. That's a key reason WHY these lands are put in a State-mandated "Special Management Area" (SMA). And although the State law quite logically allows for compliance exemptions when changes or proposed work falls into an "exempt class of action" (see State Admin. Rule 11-200-8), such as simple road repairs and minor safety improvements, it provides a key exception: When the proposed activity is determined to have, or be likely to have, a "significant impact" on the SMA and its resources. In the Laniakea case, it would be incredible if the circuit court does not find that the stripping away of virtually all of the public access parking that has been there for over the 60 years my eyeballs have driven/riden past it, is not having a "significant impact" on the SMA and the goals and objectives which State law mandates to be met by it. DOT thinks it can treat this as just another engineering issue, in a vacuum of other State laws. I really hope the judge will quickly find otherwise, and get the message out there: "Don't mess with our SMA access and use without following the law." We all know there are solutions to this problem. It's nothing new. It's just going to cost more than the City or State want to spend out "in the boonies" from their viewpoint. K.S. might do well to view this as a unique economic opportunity, in taking their inevitable role of providing realignment land as part of the long term solution. It's only going to be a few more decades before either the current road or the fronting beach - one or the other - is wiped out by ocean encroachment. Let's get ahead of the curve, so to speak!
on January 3,2014 | 05:49AM
Mythman wrote:
All the lawsuit will accomplish is (1) more publicity for the NIMBY North Shore group and (2) issuance of the permit the lawsuit claims is lacking. As for an EIS, good, let the NIMBYs exhaust all patience for their over use of this tool in preference for their own real estate interests and lead to the state legislator changing the law so it is not such that anyone can evoke it in the cause of "saving" some aspect of the environment from prospective "harm".
on January 3,2014 | 05:54AM
gsr wrote:
The "NIMBYs" are trying to accommodate the 600k people who show up there every year. It's the state that does not want them (or anyone) to stop at Lani's.
on January 3,2014 | 06:28AM
9ronboz wrote:
Special permit?
on January 3,2014 | 06:10AM
ColinKona wrote:
An SMA Use Permit should be required by the circuit court, consistent w/ State law, when a "significant impact" is reasonably likely to occur. An SMA (major) Use permit requires at least one public hearing by the Planning Commission following a multi-agency review/comment period, and then referral to the C&C of Honolulu County Council for more meetings/hearings and a final decision with conditions attached to the permit, if issued. That is the proper venue for a complex, vexing issue such as this one, and gives all sides a chance to weigh in. A "Special Permit", technically (see HRS 205-6), is applicable only regarding lands which are in the State Agricultural (or Rural) land use district, and would be required if the State DOT - or others - proposes doing new construction/work on the lands outside of the existing highway right-of-way, assuming that the flanking lands are in the State Agricultural LUD (as I expect they are).
on January 3,2014 | 06:24AM
soundofreason wrote:
Wow. A community that just doesn't sit back and allow the city to RAILroad them against their wishes.
on January 3,2014 | 06:21AM
MakikiView wrote:
Community demands that the DOT act. The DOT acts. The community sues. Jeez.
on January 3,2014 | 06:36AM
Wazdat wrote:
The DOT is so INCOMPETENT is ABSURD. I means what the heck is wrong with these l o l o s
on January 3,2014 | 06:50AM
soundofreason wrote:
They did not choose wisely. Parking acreage is sitting right there.
on January 3,2014 | 07:28AM
Kalaheo1 wrote:
MakikiView wrote: Community demands that the DOT act. The DOT acts. The community sues. Jeez.

None of the community organizations that came to the DOT for help requested that they plop giant concrete barriers on the side of the road.

The state DOT acted in a hostile and arbitrary manner toward the entire community and island. It reminds me of when Governor Abercrombie similarly declared war on the North Shore farmer's market.

on January 3,2014 | 08:37AM
hi96822 wrote:
right on Reno said it best, "Its not a solution its a punishment."
on January 3,2014 | 06:56AM
Mythman wrote:
It's a compromise - which is how government actually works when tested in this exact manner. Make a lot of noise, get some free publicity, etc. Influence "history" - it's called progress. Make society move in the direction of the protest. It all falls apart in the end when it becomes unglued. Didn't anyone study Europe starting with Marx?
on January 3,2014 | 07:02AM
Slow wrote:
The Laniakea barriers are the work of Commies!!! I thought so!!!
on January 3,2014 | 07:39AM
ColinKona wrote:
Or, how about studying Europe starting with the French Revolution? All peoples are disgruntled when the "RE-public" tenents of governance are disrespected. We Americans have the eroding luxury of speaking out (NSA, are you listening?), hopefully those who couldn't care less about public shoreline access in Hawaii, and the people who treasure it, will just bear with it here.
on January 3,2014 | 08:15AM
Mythman wrote:
Let's not forget the origin of PASH is found in standard native American law, as encoded in Title 25. The same folks who now think the beaches etc belong to them and are subject to their whims are the ones who organized themselves to make sure no low income native Hawaiian property is found near their own one, two or three million dollar property, least the property values might come down and who from the mainland would want to buy a house with a native Hawaiian living next door for three million dollars. Take a look at the Spanish civil war.
on January 3,2014 | 10:42AM
Mythman wrote:
Wait a minute: I thought the tag line for the NIMBYs was they are "saving" the planet from whatever by saving their little North Shore Neighborhood Board stretch of it from over development of any kind including anything of a native Hawaiian character by "shutting it down" or otherwise muscling local government. Now it's about parking and surfing? Watch out when surfing, some of the debris being washed into the ocean at Rocky Point might wipe you out.
on January 3,2014 | 07:00AM
Bdpapa wrote:
Take the barriers down and either enforce a parking ban, and/or ban all tour vans and buses.
on January 3,2014 | 07:07AM
ready2go wrote:
Has the traffic flow improved?
on January 3,2014 | 07:52AM
islandinthesun wrote:
No, the traffic has infact gotten worse...takes longer to get to Foodland than when there was no barrier....imagine that! Ha! Everyone parks as far as Chun's to get to Lani's and they're crossing from all differents areas now...not just infront of Lani's.
on January 3,2014 | 09:57AM
Mythman wrote:
The rumor is Chun's is next for barriers. Then KS will set up a shuttle from Haleiwa that runs up and down the 7 miles for surfers and turtle watchers. This is said to be the plan. The shuttle will pull into Waimea Valley so the OHA can make a few bucks selling stuff to the riders.
on January 3,2014 | 10:44AM
Slow wrote:
Keep the country country. Keep the city city.
on January 3,2014 | 07:57AM
joseph007 wrote:
The government, city & state, always want the public to follow rules and laws, but for them, their exempt or better yet "we didn't know, we're studying the law".
on January 3,2014 | 08:15AM
Kuokoa wrote:
First of all, Abellira, pronounce the name of the place correctly. It is LaniAkea, not Lanikea. Secondly, the State has the right to protect is own property from being missed used by barracades, fences, etc. Thirdly, the law that is being broken is that people are getting too close to the turtles.
on January 3,2014 | 08:22AM
Macadamiamac wrote:
Traffic is and will continue to be bottlenecked from Lani's onward because Kam Hwy is over capacity. The 'visitor industry' promotion of the 'Turtle Beach' together with the overpopulation of Oahu contribute to the traffic jam, not only at Lani's but everywhere during the increasingly longer rush-hours. Solution? Everybody who is not a 'native Hawaiian' should leave. (Sarchasm).
on January 3,2014 | 09:39AM
Mythman wrote:
I like that solution, even if sarcastic.
on January 3,2014 | 10:45AM
sumoroach wrote:
The barriers are need to keep the homeless from parking there at night and causing problems for the morning traffic
on January 3,2014 | 10:28AM
false wrote:
City and State: no mo money and too many rules and lawyers wanting to enforce the rules. Now they are trapped by more lawyers. Kinda like the beach errosion - no can help because the rules say.... 50 years ago, neighbor would help neighbor, the plantation would send a tractor over to push the sand around, Californians lived in California, and tourists stayed in Waikiki
on January 3,2014 | 02:10PM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
"The state installed the barriers two days before Christmas to block cars, vans and tour buses from parking along a 1,000-foot beachfront stretch on the mauka side of Kame­ha­meha Highway. The move aims to ease the traffic and safety hazards caused by visitors who indiscriminately cross the highway there."

An older person with wisdom might say that the State is getting in the way of themselves, as far promoting our number one industry, Tourism. By jumping the gun and saying NO, the State has again taken the easy way out and done another Haleiwa Market solution on Laniakea Beach. Hawaii is the State that says No, compared to a certain bank that says Yes.

on January 3,2014 | 02:16PM
Mythman wrote:
It falls upon the state to endeavor to treat everyone fairly, which is not always so easy - in this case, a group of NIMBYs wants to muscle the state and everyone else because they feel their own ideas are more correct than anyone else's ideas or rights. The simple fact that they screwed their native Hawaiian neighbors speak volumes to how self righteous these folks are. The court is going to teach them a lesson also.
on January 3,2014 | 02:22PM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
What is NIMBY?
on January 3,2014 | 09:24PM
Hawaii_Libertarian wrote:
The plaintiffs should and will probably win their lawsuit for such a flagrant act of stupidity on he part of the state DOT. The state here feels it can arbitrarily take our rights away anyplace, anytime without due process. Unfortunately, the taxpayers will be on the hook to pay the monetary damages awarded for the DOT's really bad decisions. I'm sure OHA and/or KS will try to find a way to exploit this situation to pad their bank accounts. We need to clean house at the state capitol and vote out most of the incumbents (e.g. Democrats) or nothing will ever change in this state and things will continue to get worse and worse. Unfortunately, most people "ainokea" so the nanny-state Dems such as Abercrombie will continue to take the people's votes for granted and their crony appointees will continue to make dumb decisions like this.
on January 3,2014 | 03:25PM
Bdpapa wrote:
Go look at the mirror and give that person a slap!
on January 3,2014 | 07:15PM
Wazdat wrote:
D or R does not matter. We just have lame people that hold office in the islands
on January 3,2014 | 07:43PM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
The purpose of Any Government is to help the people maintain law and order. To fund government, taxes are collected. In this case, the State feels there will be disorderly conduct there at Laniakea Beach without the concrete barriers. Here are two more issues that seem to concern us more than Laniakea Beach: Homelessness and Pedestrians getting run over on streets. Our State Government and Honolulu City Government are not representing us adequately with respect to taxes collected. TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION !!
on January 3,2014 | 09:16PM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
The purpose of Any Government is to help the people maintain law and order. To fund government, taxes are collected. In this case, the State feels there will be disorderly conduct there at Laniakea Beach without the concrete barriers. Here are two more issues that seem to concern us more than Laniakea Beach: Homelessness and Pedestrians getting run over on streets. Our State Government and Honolulu City Government are not representing us adequately with respect to taxes collected. TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION !!
on January 3,2014 | 09:16PM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
This message has been approved by The Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Any claims for misrepresentation may be forwarded to Governor Neil Abercrombie and/or Mayor Kirk Caldwell.
on January 3,2014 | 09:19PM
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