Portlock Road beach access resolution passes
It’s been a 21-year-long fight for Ann Marie Kirk and many other community members and beachgoers to secure public access to a small, sandy beach at the end of a lane off Portlock Road and a surf break known as “Seconds.”
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It’s been a 21-year-long fight for Ann Marie Kirk and many other community members and beachgoers to secure public access to
a small, sandy beach at the end of a lane off Portlock Road and a surf break known as “Seconds.”
So she was pleased the City Council moved one step closer Wednesday to unfettered beach access.
Despite opposition by Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s administration, the Council voted 8-0 in favor of Resolution 18-211 to expedite the condemnation proceedings of a lane at 379 Portlock Road. Councilman Ikaika Anderson was absent.
A locked gate put up in or around May 2017 by Bert Dohmen-Ramirez, an investment adviser and one of two property owners with an undivided interest in the lane, blocked beach access. He told the Star-Advertiser a few weeks later that it was not locked and that the gate was put up to replace the original one, which he said was stolen.
Dohmen-Ramirez complained about theft, vandals doing drugs, trespassing, leaving food and broken bottles and urinating.
Kirk said that the issue is beach access, but the property owner is confusing
the issue by citing crimes, which she said were never reported to police.
Kirk said she’s been
going to that beach for
50 years, and many others even longer. It is the only sandy beach in Portlock with safe access to the ocean.
“It’s not for landowners to decide our rights,” she said. “It’s for enforcement of the law to take place.”
And “I’ve been coming here since 1997,” said Kirk, a member of Livable Hawaii Kai Hui, referring to testifying at Honolulu Hale before the City Council on the very issue.
“It’s been a community-led process,” she reminded council members, and thanked Councilman Trevor Ozawa (Hawaii Kai) for joining the effort.
She said it’s not so much about expediting, but prioritizing the matter. Resolution 17-246, which the Council passed last year, gave city officials the go-ahead to initiate the condemnation process after Dohmen-Ramirez rejected the city’s offer.
A member of the Caldwell administration, Chief of Staff Gary Hirokawa, told the City Council Wednesday that he visited the site
one afternoon at high tide when the beach was not visible.
“We need to find a public purpose,” and since there was no beach for emergency vehicle access, the administration does not see a purpose, he said.
Ozawa told him emergency services was never the sole purpose, but rather the safety of residents to
access the point.
“It is a beach,” he said. “There is sand. It shrinks and grows with the tides.”
Kirk said she was shocked the administration made that decision with a single visit. She said last year the fire department had to cut the gate to rescue someone, and it didn’t go to the other access lanes because other lanes were not accessible at low or high tide.
She said the area is sandy, and “it takes you
out to deep water.”
She also points out there are no public right-of-ways on Portlock Road.
The city drafted last year a resolution to acquire the property, which was sent to the administration, Deputy Corporation Counsel Duane Pang had said in October. But there needs to be a public purpose for the
Ozawa criticized Caldwell in October for stalling on the matter.
The mayor can choose
to move forward. If not,
the Council can initiate
by means of another resolution authorizing the Corporation Counsel to file condemnation in Circuit Court.
Pang said Wednesday that a technical issue in
the language of the resolution raised by a resident
Realtor was not critical, so the matter went to a vote.
Kirk told the City Council she was disappointed to hear the administration maintains that the issue is about emergency vehicle access.