The Ko Olina resort, hit by overwhelming opposition to its plan to ban the public from several lagoon beaches, said today it was reversing direction and will open all four of its lagoons to the public with parking beginning Friday.
“We apologize for disappointing any of our resident ohana,” said Jeffrey Stone, Ko Olina’s master developer, in a news release.
Last week Ko Olina said it would close Lagoons 1-3 to the public and reserve those beaches for hotel guests and condominium owners. The resort said Lagoon 4 would be open to the public, and argued the plan was needed to prevent the spread of COVID-19 from tourists to residents.
Beach access advocates cried foul, saying all beaches in Hawaii must remain open to the public by law.
In an agreement announced today by Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell and the Ko Olina Community Association, Ko Olina Resort will offer a total of 111 public parking stalls at four lagoons, with new precautions in place to keep residents, visitors and employees safe.
Last week, the city issued a notice of violation to Ko Olina for its months-long closure of public parking lots that provide beach access to Lagoons 1 through 4. The parking lots were originally closed in March due to the pandemic, but remained closed even as beaches reopened.
Ko Olina Resort had said it would reopen the public parking lot on Nov. 1 only for Lagoon 4, while the remaining lagoons would be for private hotel and condo use.
Under the plan announced by the resort last week, 102 public stalls would have opened at Lagoon 4. Prior to the pandemic-related closures in March, the total number of public parking stalls available at Ko Olina was at about 180.
Under the new agreement, the following public parking stalls will be available at Ko Olina, starting this Friday, as follows;
>> Lagoon 1 at 50% capacity: 20 public parking stalls available;
>> Lagoon 2 at 100% capacity or 20 public parking stalls available;
>> Lagoon 3 at 100% capacity or 20 public parking stalls available;
>> Lagoon 4 at 50% capacity or 51 public parking stalls available.
Caldwell said, in addition to opening the beaches and the parking lots, Ko Olina is assisting the county and state by setting up a a secondary surveillance testing site at the resort’s medical facility. COVID-19 Testing will be available for Ko Olina employees, residents, and resort guests, as well as to leeward residents by appointment.
“We appreciate their willingness to listen and work with us to create a plan that can keep everyone safe,” said Caldwell.
Ko Olina’s new reopening plan will incorporate health guidelines set forth by Honolulu as well as the Centers for Disease Control. Face coverings will be required, and physical distancing will be monitored, along with large group gatherings.
Shoreline users will be urged to stay within the lagoon area they are visiting, but all will be permitted to traverse throughout the lagoons if observing the resort’s safety protocols.
“Ko Olina has always been a strong community steward, and especially supportive of our West Oahu neighbors,” said Stone. “Our goal has always been to create the safest environment possible as we reopen our hotels and resort businesses.”
“No one has faced the devastating effects of COVID-19 before,” he said. “We appreciate the city’s willingness to share the community’s feedback and to work with us as we navigate through these difficult times. I believe this plan provides Ko Olina confidence in re-opening safely and satisfies the public’s desire for access to the shoreline. Getting our Ko Olina resorts to reopen, which cater mostly to families, and bringing our employees back to work safely have been my main goals.”