Ko Olina Resorts is set to completely reopen its four lagoon beach parking lots to the public Monday, management spokeswoman Sweetie Nelson said today in an email to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
The four free parking lots, relied upon by the beachgoing public to access the popular lagoons, were closed during the resort’s coronavirus closure from March until October 16, when Ko Olina began reopening to tourists and partially reopened the lots, making 111 of 180 parking stalls available.
Sunday morning, the Free Access Coalition, an organization dedicated to preserving public access to Hawaii’s beaches, held signs along Farrington Highway near the resorts’ entrance protesting the ongoing partial lot closures.
“The event went off pretty well, with about 30 sign-wavers,” said John Shockley, co-founder of the coalition. “An HPD officer stopped by—he said we were within our rights to protest peacefully, we were not obstructing traffic at our location, and we were being both COVID safe and traffic safe.”
Nelson attached to her email a copy of a Jan. 26 letter from Ken Williams, general manager of Ko Olina Community Association, Inc., informing Dean Uchida, director designate of the Honolulu Department of Planning and Permitting, that “in accordance with (Ko Olina’s) October 14, 2020, notification, please be advised that Ko Olina will reopen 100% of its private lagoon parking lots to public use on February 1, 2021, subject to the requirements of the city’s tiered reopening strategy and any new government mandates.”
The October 14 letter revised the terms of an earlier letter, sent October 6 to Kathy Sokugawa, then-director of PPP, which announced that on Nov. 1, parking would reopen for Lagoon 4, to be dedicated exclusively to public use, while the parking lots and beaches at Lagoons 1, 2 and 3 would be exclusively for private hotel guest and condo resident use.
Previously, all four lagoons and their parking lots had been open to the public without charge as a condition of the resort’s Special Management Area Minor Permit with the city.
On October 8, the resort received a notice from DPP that the months-long closure of the lagoon parking lots was a violation of the permit and had to be corrected immediately or civil fines would be imposed and the matter might be referred to the city prosecuting attorney and/or corporation counsel “for appropriate action.”
After learning that the resort had confirmed it would reopen 100% of the parking lots Monday, Shockley canceled a second sign-waving the coalition had planned for Sunday.
But they would remain vigilant, he said in an email to coalition members and area residents.
“On Monday, Rita (his wife and coalition co-founder) and I will go down to see if Ko Olina has followed through with the re-opening,” Shockley wrote. “If by chance they have NOT re-opened 100% as they indicated, we may need all of you to come to a future rally demanding free public access to the Ko Olina beach parking.”
Ko Olina’s Nelson, however, said the resort was not obligated to provide more than a minimum 80 stalls under its original agreement with the city, and DPP Curtis Lum, public information officer, confirmed this was true.
“The minimum 80 stalls were required as conditions in the unilateral agreement and special management area permit/shoreline variance,” Lum said via email Thursday.”So the 111 exceeds what is required,” he said in reference to the stalls available to the public in the partial reopening that the coalition has been protesting.