`Āina Haina says "NO" to commercial weddings
The `Āina Haina Community Association prevailed on July 7, 2011, presenting information that caused the Kalani-Iki – Kuli’ou’ou Neighborhood Board #2 (NB#2) to unanimously vote to rescind a May 5, 2011 resolution supporting Hongwanji Resource Corporation’s permit applications for the Outrigger Canoe Club property at 5415 Kalanianaʻole Hwy. near Kawaikuʻi Beach Park.
In May 2011, the Kalani-Iki – Kuli’ou’ou Neighborhood Board #2 (NB #2) was presented with a proposal for permit applications at the `Āina Haina Outrigger Canoe Club property.
Watabe Weddings Corp., Hongwanji Resource Corp. (HRC) and their development planner made a presentation which implied that the property would be used by the Honpa Hongwanji for Church-sponsored retreats, youth activities, group meetings and only occasional weddings of Church members. Based on that presentation, NB #2 passed a resolution recommending that the City & County Department of Planning & Permitting approve permits for the development and use of the property by HRC.
Despite urging of NB #2 Board members, Watabe and HRC did not meet with the AHCA Board until late June. Upon extensive questioning, it was found that Watabe, a Japanese commercial destination wedding company, was in fact the proposed new tenant and that HRC was applying for permits on Watabe’s behalf without a formal business relationship. HRC was also found to be a for-profit corporation not specifically or clearly related to Honpa Hongwanji. As such, the inference that the Church would be the main user of the property was suspect.
AHCA’s Wayson Chow presented the findings at the July 7 NB#2 Board meeting to ensure full disclosure to the Board and community. With support from Niu Valley’s Jeannine Johnson and many members of `Āina Haina and nearby communities, staunch opposition to establishing commercial operations in residential neighborhoods was clearly expressed. AHCA’s Anson Rego asked that the NB #2 Board rescind its prior resolution on the basis of incomplete and misleading disclosures made at the time it was passed.
In response, NB #2 unanimously passed this resolution:
"Because of the significant difference between the information given us at our May meeting and the information presented today, I move that the Neighborhood Board #2 rescind its approval of this project and publish this decision to the Department of Planning and Permitting."
Closing out this chapter, HRC withdrew its applications for permits at the Outrigger Property on July 26, 2011.
Support Our Post Office!
On July 27, the `Āina Haina Post Office narrowly escaped the United States Postal Service’s threatened closure of four O’ahu Post Offices. But in early August, `Āina Haina Community Association learned of USPS pending reductions in the `Āina Haina Post Office staffing and hours, and of its coming lease expiration in February 2012. AHCA sprung to action with its Petition Campaign to avert closure. The petition states:
"We, the undersigned taxpayers, strongly urge that the`lease for AINA HAINA POST OFFICE, an essential government service, be extended for three or more years, and that the Current Hours of Operation (Mon-Friday: 10 a.m.—12 noon, 1:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m; Saturday: 9 a.m.-12 noon), and that Current Staffing (Two U.S. Postal Clerks) continue."
In its July 25, 2011 meeting, the AHCA Board voted to support and defend the `Āina Haina Post Office’s current retail service hours and staffing.
The proposed USPS reductions in Post Office hours and staffing could be disastrous to our neighbors and businesses, our kupuna, PO box lessees, and residents unable to drive to the Kahala or Hawaii Kai Post offices.
Be sure to attend the General Meeting to learn more, voice concerns, sign the petition, and help by asking neighbors and friends, to sign AHCA’s Defend `Āina Haina Post Office Petition!
East O’ahu Kalaniana’ole Facelift Starts Summer of 2012!
Yes, it’s getting bumpy out there and some of the potholes are pretty deep. But in his July update, Representative Mark Hashem (House District 18) reported that $9 million in funding is appropriated, plans are complete and repaving begins at Hanauma Bay Rd. in the Summer of 2012. The project will span several months until it reaches East Hind Drive. Though there will be an aggressive schedule for completion, everyone is cautioned to be patient with lane closures and expect possible weather delays. But at the end of the project, it’ll be smoother sailing.
Following completion of that project, a second-phase project is also being planned for the stretch from East Hind to the freeway. Representative Hashem will keep us updated when funding and schedules are approved.
Wailupe Stream Update
Representative Mark Jun Hashem mailed postcards to homes along the stream with the following information:
"With the recent Army Corps of Engineers (ACE), regulatory change of Wailupe stream, the City and County of Honolulu is now required to obtain permits through the ACE to do maintenance and clearing of vegetation. The city is aware of the situation and is working to obtain the proper permits to do their yearly maintenance of Wailupe stream. I have been working with Councilman Stanley Chang to resolve this problem. Sorry for the inconvenience it has caused and thank you for your patience."
Cleaning is being done at the upper debris basin which is not under the same restrictions as the rest of the stream.
Ms. Athline Clark the new project manager of the Wailupe Stream project for the Army Corps of Engineers attended the AHCA August Board meeting to introduce herself and to provide an update on the current status of long-awaited flood mitigation projects.
The most recent study completed by ACE on the lower stream indicates that concrete walls as high as 12 feet high from the bed of the stream would be required to minimize the risk of flooding from the Hind Drive bridge to the Kalaniana’ole Hwy. bridge. The height of these walls was driven primarily by an objection many years ago to redesigning the Kalaniana’ole bridge to allow more water to flow more freely in the event of heavy runoff upstream.
AHCA has asked Ms. Clark to also investigate the possibility of working with the State to revisit re-engineering of the bridge to reduce the extreme height of the flood mitigation walls along the stream.
Development on Upper Hao
Many residents recently voiced concerns about heavy equipment clearing land on Hao St. near the Wailupe Middle Ridge hiking trail head. These 9.5 acres of residentially-zoned private land have been the source of controversy in our community for decades. A range of City land use, permitting and planning departments – even the City Council itself – have recognized the risk of development in that area know to be prone to slides, falling boulders and general soil instability. Indeed, after proposals that included tennis courts and a cemetery, the 80+ acres surrounding this residentially-zoned property were bought by the City & County in 1999 and converted to preservation land precisely to avoid potential hazards to current and future residents. The City & County has told residents that the ground clearing (grubbing) activity taking place on the property did not require permitting because it occurred in a relatively limited area. The City & County has also approved a sewer connection permit and as of press date of this newsletter in early September, no other permit applications appear in public DPP records.
AHCA does, however, continue to closely monitor activities to ensure that both the developer and the City & County DPP take the necessary precautionary measures to ensure the safety not only of the homes proposed for any new development, but for those of the pre-existing homes below this well-known slide area.
AHCA can use the help of community members who can contribute civil engineering, hydrology, geology or any other expertise to aid in helping keep track of this project, the Wailupe Stream improvement and others that may come up in our community. Please leave a note for AHCA at the Aina Haina Library if you would like to volunteer and let us know how we can contact you. Mahalo for your support!
The History of Upper Hao Street
This parcel has been the source of controversy in our community for decades and, as long ago as 1981, a range of City land use, permitting and planning departments and the City Council itself recognized the potential hazard of development on this specific parcel. Following is a chronology of documented events occurring on this property (TMK 36024001) and the surrounding land (TMK 36004001) which was purchased by the City in 1999 as preservation land to avoid potential hazards to current and future residents:
1970 October 2 In the oldest, publicly available document on TMK 36024001, City Planning Department Deputy Director L.C. Fruto notes in his request for soil and drainage studies for a proposed residential subdivision that “The proposed subdivision is within a potential slide area.”
1974 Holiday Mart submits application for conditional use permit, proposing to use both TMK 36024001 and TMK 36004001 (a total of 85.8 acres) as a private tennis club.
1974 December 11 Then Director and Chief Engineer for the Department of Public Works states in a memo regarding the Holiday Mart conditional use permit (CUP) for TMK 36024001 and TMK 36004001 that “The preliminary soils evaluation shows that there has been a slide in this area and creep areas are also present. We do not recommend development of this site.”
1976 A cemetery is proposed for the two parcels and was vehemently opposed by the community. The cemetery proposal was not adopted by the City Council.
1979 Hong Kong-based Volumes Corp. Ltd. purchases the urban, residentially-zoned property (TMK 36024001) for $325,000.00. An additional $650,000 was paid for the 85-acre surrounding parcel. (TMK 3600401).
1980 Volumes applies for permits to for a 15-1ct residential subdivision. Application expires.
1981 February 27 Volumes Corp. sends formal correspondence indicating that it will comply with City stipulations that require informing future buyers that they are in a potential slide area, and indemnifying the City from liabilities arising from the approval of any development.
1981 August 11 City and County Department of Land Utilization Director issues official report to the City Council recommending that TMK 36024001 (9.2 acres) and TMK 36004001(85.2 acres) be rezoned from R4 and R6 to P-1 Preservation District. The report states “Steep slopes in this part of Aina Haina Valley are subject to soil slippage. Therefore, the proposed rezoning by City Council is (1) in accord with proposed City land use policy; (2) generally in accord with general land use policies; and (3) would protect the public interest by eliminating the potential for residential development on lands subject to soil slippage.” The report goes further to state “This request is being made because of concerns that hazardous slope, soil, and slide conditions exist on the site which would be detrimental to future residents living on and existing residents living near the property in question.”
1998 City and County of Honolulu applies for rezoning of TMK 36024001 and TMK 36004001 (98/Z-6) in which it is proposed that both residentially-zoned properties be converted to preservation land.
1999 City Council appropriates $5M to purchase 94.7 acres (both parcels), deemed unsuitable for residential development due to slide risk and soil instabilities. The acquisition was to create a nature preserve. The size of the allocation gets widespread media attention since the combined taxable land valuation was then $466,100 for both parcels.
2000 The city purchases ONLY the 85-acre parcel for $1,874,000 (TMK36004001). Volumes Corp. retains the smaller, still residentially-zoned parcel remains. The City purchase and failure to purchase the smaller parcel are not disclosed to the public, Aina Haina Community Association (AHCA), and/or to Kuli’ou’ou-Kalani Iki Neighborhood Board #2 (NB#2).
Since the late 2007 discovery of the incomplete sale, nothing explains the City Council’s failure to buy BOTH lots per its own 1999 resolution. NOTE: The City Council decision to buy the land was a reaction to the Department of Land Utilization’s report that soil instability and landslide risk made both parcels unsuitable for development. The City’s failure to complete both purchases left control of TMK 36-024-001 to Volumes Corp.
2004 Volumes Corp. sells the 9.5-acre parcel (TMK 36-024-001) to Island Title Ko Olina Hotel #10 LLC for $2,136,189.
2006 The new property owner submits for City Department of Planning and Permitting (DPP)approval a proposal for a 25-home gated community at the mauka end of Hao Street. The City denies the permit, primarily based on the Board of Water Supply’s inadequate water pressure concerns.
2006 The parcel sells for $2,369,700 to Residences at Aina Haina LLC (RAHL).
2007 RAHL proposes a 12-lot subdivision plan for the parcel to comply with BWS service limits. The 2007 application expired after the DPP raised numerous concerns which were not adequately addressed.
April 19, 2011 RAHL receives DPP approval of a Sewer Connection Permit application to serve eight single-family dwellings.
Mid-late July 2011 Leaflets suddenly appear on utility poles in Upper `Aina Haina, alerting neighbors to 1031 Hao Street excavations and clearing.
July 21, 2011 City Councilman Stanley Chang files an urgent Request for Investigation with the City DPP.
July 28, 2011 The `Aina Haina Community Association files Requests for Investigation, Information and Photocopying with the City DPP, and requests an immediate “Cease & Desist” Order pending DPP investigation of possible grubbing (clearing) and/or grading without a permit.
August 3, 2011 The City DPP responds that “no permit was required” because the property owners cleared “only 13,000 square feet” as a preliminary step towards conducting soil engineering studies.
All of East O'ahu and, as such, thiis property lies outside the Urban Growth Boundary; has been identified by the City as an area where soils are “potential indicators of slow-moving landslides;” and bordering Wilupe Stream, it’s essential that any development mitigate the risk of construction and slide debris in this essential flood control waterway for all of `Āina Haina .