||Settlement Reached to Restore Beach Access at Honokōwai
June 27, 2019
By Wendy Osher
A settlement has been reached between a shoreline protection group and the owners of two beach-side condominium properties in Honokōwai. Kai Nishiki, member of the group Nā Papaʻi Wawae ʻUlaʻula said the settlement restores public beach access in the area for generations to come.
“We are elated. My kids are much older now, but this is actually for all the keiki of Hawaiʻi so that they have access to our shorelines,” said Nishiki, noting that there’s been a rise in user conflicts that were going unresolved, a failure to maintain access and lack of enforcement.
“So we had to take it upon ourselves to form a community group and address it through the courts,” said Nishiki.
Under the settlement reached in Environmental Court, a trail will be established along the north edge of the Hale Mahina Beach Resort property. The trail will also abut the Hoyochi Nikko Resort’s southern property line.
Brian W. Tilker with Torkildson, Katz, Hetherington, Harris & Knorek, attorney for AOAO Hale Mahina Beach Resort provided Maui Now with a statement saying, “The AOAO Hale Mahina Beach Resort believes that the settlement strikes an appropriate balance in that it provides the public with shoreline access, while ensuring the safety of those who will use the path in the future. Specifically, the settlement provides for the installation of a railing or other barrier at the end of the access trail as well as signage, in order to provide adequate warnings to the public.”
“Our legal team and a mediator met with our group as well as the property owners to come to a settlement where they will be installing a shoreline path from the road to the ocean. It was many months in the making, but we finally reached an agreement, and work should start shortly to clear the path and open it up to the public,” said Nishiki.
Under the agreement, the railing or barrier at the end of the path shall remain in place unless and until the County approves a vertical access alternative such as a stairwell. There will also be signage installed. The settlement also calls for pending litigation pertaining to both resorts to be dismissed.
“I think our county is challenged by, mostly probably by funding and employee challenges in having enough resources to properly take care of our shorelines. We are hoping to work with the county and the budgeting process to show through our budget that our shoreline is a priority,” said Nishiki.
“We are going to be working all over Maui County to open up lost shoreline access for the public. And trying to work with county and state agencies to be more proactive in supporting and fighting for our access that we enjoy to our beaches. Hawaiʻi is very unique in that public access is a right to our beaches. Other places in the world, they are allowed to privatize beaches, so the state of Hawaiʻi protects that right and we are trying to hold them accountable to ensure access in perpetuity for future generations,” said Nishiki.
The two lawsuits we filed by Nā Papaʻi Wawae ʻUlaʻula together with the West Maui Preservation Association, Archie Kalepa and Kanamu Balinbin, against the Hale Mahina Beach Resort and the Hoyochi Nikko Resort. The resolution has been memorialized by the settlement agreement that all the parties have agreed to, as well as the Fujiwara family, who own the land below the Hale Mahina Beach Resort.
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