The Turtle Bay Makai Conservation Easement became official on October 23, 2015. In this transaction, the State acquired 55 acres of lands at Kawela Bay, the City owns about 10 acres, and more than 600 acres of resort lands are now off limits for future development. The old rally cry, “Save Kawela Bay” has been realized.
The agreement was made possible through an amazing level of collaboration and collective effort by many diverse, and often competing, interests. Special thanks go to Governor Ige for closing the deal and to former Governors Abercrombie and Lingle for their commitment to make this a reality. My predecessor, Senator Clayton Hee played a critical role at the Legislature. Drew Stotesbury brought the resort owners to the table. Honolulu City and County and the U.S. Army helped fund the effort. Trust for Public Land, North Shore Community Land Trust, the hotel workers, Keep the North Shore Country, Defend Oahu Coalition, the entire conservation community and many dedicated individuals all played vital roles.
Three contentious decades have passed since the City approved an eight-fold expansion of the Turtle Bay Resort - an expansion that, in retrospect, could not be supported by the market, location, or highway infrastructure, and was strongly opposed by residents throughout Hawaii and visitors from around the world. I am very pleased to have been involved in this huge milestone for voluntary land conservation in Hawaii.
Next up is the Turtle Bay Mauka Conservation Easement, an agreement to protect 468 acres of prime agricultural lands mauka of the resort lands. This easement has been in the works for more than four years and has funding approval from State, City and Federal partners, but it appears to be hung up in negotiations over the fine print. The delays are disappointing, especially in light of the successful, timely closing of the more complex Makai deal.
Finally, in regards to the Turtle Bay lands, an opportunity exists to conserve additional acreage near Kahuku Point. This parcel, where 100 resort residential units are contemplated, was excluded from the Makai Conservation Easement; however no action to develop it will occur before 2018, so that more discussion can occur.
Our series of Town Halls on Pesticides and Clean Water were very well attended and we are holding a follow up meeting at Waialua Elementary School on Tuesday, November 10th, beginning at 6:30 pm. The September 29th Waialua Town Hall was recorded by Olelo and can be viewed online at SenatorRiviere.com. Apologies for the audio problems early in the meeting.
Nearly 40 Haleiwa Harbor Users attended a special meeting we convened on October 15th to address their frustrations with harbor management and policies recently implemented. State boating directors Ed Underwood and Meghan Statts described challenges within the department such as chronic job vacancies and limited funding, while hearing first hand concerns from the public. My office continues to follow up on specific requests and we will be encouraging coordinated support from the boating community on relevant measures in the upcoming Legislative Session.