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Shark’s Cove

Updated: Sep 22, 2020

Have you seen the lunch wagons and growing commercial activity across the street from Shark’s Cove? Have you eaten there lately? Have you noticed an increase in traffic and jaywalkers darting across the street to use the beach park bathrooms? Have you wondered what is going on with this property, the same property that was engulfed in the “No Mall at Sharks’ Cove” controversy 11 years ago?

My office has been contacted by area residents who are concerned about traffic impacts on their private street, Pahoe Road, by the non-profit organization who stewards the Marine Life Sanctuary at Shark’s Cove, and by supporters of the new lunch wagon businesses. A new controversy, it seems, has arisen.

Hananpohaku LLC purchased the land a couple years ago for $5.5 million. The original food truck and surf and snorkel rental shop remain in operation, while several other lunch wagons have moved in and various decks and other improvements have been constructed.

Growing numbers of customers have been directed across the street to the public bathroom when needed. The nearest crosswalk is not far away, but it is in the opposite direction, so most patrons cross Kamehameha Highway in between passing cars. Cars park along the highway, on Pahoe Rd. and on site. Traffic is being impacted and other potential impacts must not be ignored.

Over the course of 2015, the property owners submitted plans to construct nearly $1.5 million dollars of additional improvements, including new sewage treatment facilities, several small buildings and a new parking lot. This property is in the Special Management Area.

Hawaii’s Coastal Zone Management law requires all development within the Special Management Area that costs more than $500,000 or has potential for substantial or cumulatively significant environmental impacts to undergo environmental review and public consultation.

The developers in this case segmented their permit requests into three separate applications on the claim that they are building three different projects on three different parcels. Although there are, in fact, three adjacent lots involved, this is obviously one project that straddles all three lots. Each permit specifies construction costs just below the $500,000 threshold, but cumulatively, the costs equal $1,427,000, well above the trigger amount.

Hawaii courts consistently overturn governmental decisions like this where developments are segmented to avoid environmental and public oversight. I have formally asked the Department of Planning and Permitting to reconsider its decision to ignore the cumulative costs and impact, and to require a Special Management Area Permit – Major

for what is indisputably one project by one developer.

To be clear, I take no position on what they plan to build or what businesses they intend to support on the property. I do, however, feel very strongly that community engagement and environmental review are the appropriate process that is required by law for the Shark’s Cove area commercial development.

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