The public parking lot to Ko Olina Resort’s Lagoon 4 will reopen Saturday, the resort announced Friday afternoon.
“With the upcoming re-opening of travel on Oct. 15, Ko Olina will be reopening the Ulua Lagoon 4 public parking lot to the general public, effective Saturday, October 10,” Sweetie Nelson, director of destination marketing for Ko Olina Resort Operators Association, Inc., informed the Honolulu Star-Advertiser in an email.
The resort had announced Tuesday its largest lot with 102 stalls would reopen Nov. 1, also the slated reopening date of Ko Olina’s Aulani Disney Resort and Spa. In another change, the resort said Lagoon 4, the farthest of the lagoons from the resort’s hotels and condominiums, would be reserved exclusively for public use, while Lagoons 1, 2 and 3 would be reserved for hotel guests and condo owners.
The separation is envisioned as the resort’s effort to reduce the risks of transmission of the novel coronavirus between members of the public and resort visitors and staff, and is to end Feb. 1 when the plan is for all the resort’s 180 public parking stalls and all 4 lagoons are to reopen to the public, state and county regulations permitting, Nelson said.
Currently, all resort public parking is closed but all four lagoons are open for public use and shoreline access, as they have been throughout the coronavirus crisis whenever Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell has allowed the reopening of Oahu’s beaches after ordering periodic closures.
Ko Olina Resort’s Friday announcement followed receipt of a notice of violation of the resort’s 2016 special management area permit from the city Department of Planning and Permitting for the more than six months’ closure of the gates and installation of barriers at its public parking lots that “blocked public access to the lagoon public parking areas, resulting in beach access denial to the lagoons.”
In the notice, which was issued Thursday, DPP said the resort had to correct the violation by reopening the parking areas or face civil fines.
On Friday, Nelson also sent an email to Caldwell providing more details about what the resort calls its phased reopening plan, which it compares to the city’s tiered, progressive reopening system based on COVID-19 cases and positivity rates.
The resort’s visitors and residents would also face restricted lagoon access, Nelson wrote: Lagoon 1 would be restricted to Aulani guests and vacation club owners, Lagoon 2 would be for residents of Ko Olina Beach Villas, and Lagoon 3 would be exclusively for use of Marriott visitors and vacation club owners.
“We feel strongly that the city must give us the opportunity to implement this temporary, phased approach to maintain safety,” Nelson wrote.
She added the resort was willing to revisit its plan with the mayor “a few weeks after the trans-Pacific travel reopening on October 15, to gauge its success.”
A separate document was sent to DPP addressing the citation, Nelson said.
Alexander Zannes, director of communications for the city, said Caldwell was aware of Nelson’s email but had not had a chance to review it.
“(The mayor) will be discussing the issue with Corporation Counsel and the Department of Planning and Permitting,” Zannes said in an email.
Kym Pine, Honolulu City Councilmember representing District 1, said she had received “hundreds of calls and emails” since Ko Olina’s Tuesday partial parking and lagoon access announcement, which took her and her constituents by surprise.
“I really wish, instead of announcing it in an email at 6:30 p.m., Ko Olina had brought the community and leaders together so we could discuss all the pros and cons and different perspectives,” Pine said Friday. “If we could have come up with a decision together, people on the west side might have not felt shortchanged and (instead) been more on board,” she said, noting some of her constituents said “it sounds like (the resort is) trying to keep people safe.”
Pine added she was also getting complaints from Ko Olina residents about being excluded from lagoons under the plan.
Lagoon 4 lies makai of Ko Olina Marina, where the public boat ramp, closed since March, will reopen to registered boaters on Monday.