City officials are threatening to close the Royal Hawaiian Golf Club unless its owner improves access to the popular Maunawili Falls Trail.
Art Challacombe, acting director of the Department of Planning and Permitting, said in a letter today that HRT Realty LLC must come up with a plan for the improvements by June 1 and complete them by October, or risk losing the 20-year-old conditional use permit that allows the Kailua golf course to operate.
The 18-hole course and clubhouse are on 420 acres of agriculturally zoned land and, under previous ownership, had been known as the Luana Hills Golf Club.
The department is giving the owner the option of closing the trail temporarily while discussions take place with stakeholders on a plan to allow continued access while addressing concerns raised by residents in the adjacent Maunawili Estate community.
The growing popularity of the trail has been accompanied by an increasing amount of complaints from residents about hikers who illegally park, trespass and relieve themselves in their yards.
“We don’t want to temporarily close the trail, but we have to address the concerns of the residents who are forced to put up with disruptive activity in their neighborhoods on a daily basis,” Challacombe said in a news release.
“The city supports the reopening of the trail under improved access conditions,” DPP said in the release. It wants HRT Realty to not only reopen the trailhead, but to then maintain and manage the access point, the release said.
In February, DPP held a public hearing on a plan to nullify the trail access requirement and allow the owner to close the trailhead. Testimony was overwhelmingly in support of closing the trail, the city said.