Spin Zone: Turtle Bay Expansion

Is Turtle Bay’s Expansion Good for the North Shore?

May, 2007

Q: Is Turtle Bay’s Expansion Good for the North Shore?

RALPH MAKAIAU, project manager, Kuilima Resort Co.

A: The agreement served as a model of collaboration for other developers. Now, once again, Kuilima has become a case study for Hawaii’s business community because of significant implications for all developers. Over the years, the Kahuku property has switched hands and the downswing of the local economy through the 1980s and ’90s halted development throughout the Islands. At a time when Hawaii’s economy is picking up and Kuilima is ready to move forward, new legislation and activist groups attempt to undermine the community’s entitlements. Unfortunately, as is often the case, a loud, vocal minority drowns out the silent majority in the community.A: Balanced, responsible development that takes into account the needs of the community was the intent of the Kahuku community that originally envisaged the Turtle Bay plan and has been embraced by Kuilima Resort Co. since its involvement in the project. Through lengthy collective effort and negotiations, the developer and community leaders each received what they wanted. The preservation of vast open spaces, easy access to beaches, shoreline setbacks that exceed the standard for developers to protect culturally sensitive areas, and height restrictions on new construction were among the stipulations in the Unilateral Agreement, a legally binding document that locked in the developer and community to keep their promises to each other. Creating another high-density Waikiki clearly was never part of the plan.

Despite Hawaii’s low unemployment rate, Koolauloa (Oahu’s Northeast Side) is in dire need of revitalization. We envision a vibrant, flourishing community without compromising the rural feel unique to the area. Kahuku Hospital faces financial challenges without support from businesses and the community to keep its doors open. A strong economic driver in the area is vitally necessary to prevent homelessness and other social ills. There is much more we can do for the community, and Kuilima has an important role to play in Koolauloa.

CHOON JAMES, Defend Oahu Coalition Boardmember

A: International investment groups like Oaktree Capital are exploiting Hawaii. Paradise is becoming a playground for the rich. These corporations profit millions of dollars at the expense of Hawaii’s people, culture and environment. Without protection, North Shore will become another ritzy resort a la Kaanapali, Maui. Local folks will eventually be priced out and pushed out. (The cheapest Turtle Bay Resort Ocean Villa condo is $1.5 million)

The Golden Rule – the one with the gold rules – buys top-gun consultants who quietly ramrod permitting processes and attorneys who insinuate lawsuits if they don’t get what they want, thereby paralyzing elected politicians from representing their constituents.

Five new hotels with an additional 3,500 units will inevitably trigger the “Multiplier Effect.” Oaktree dangles the carrot of 2,500 jobs. But, the present 487-unit hotel perennially has trouble filling employment vacancies. Needed imported labor will trigger more competition for housing, educational/social services, and aggravate already chronic traffic congestion. Oaktree touts 100 affordable homes. Twenty-five-hundred (imported) jobs and 100 homes? Do the math. What are the real community benefits?

When corporate investors reap their dividends and leave the Islands, all of Hawaii’s tax-payers will pay for the inevitable impacts – traffic woes, infrastructure improvement, rising property values, limited beach access, water/electricity resources, and an irretrievably vanished country lifestyle that kamaainas hold dear and precious.

Oaktree: We are your neighbors. We are hotel workers, unionists, kupunas, teachers, firemen, mothers, uncles, environmentalists, the everyman. You recycle certain hotel employees as your community support. But 76 percent of Hawaii residents are against building a new hotel.

Oaktree claims a new era of “openness.” Then why fight against updating the irrelevant 1985 Environmental Impact Statement for this resort expansion?

Oaktree: Live Aloha! No PR games, no smoke-and-mirror maneuverings. Let’s resurrect the defunct 1986 Unilateral Agreement’s Kuilima North Shore Strategy Planning Committee for a transparent public dialogue.


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