By Hayley K. Ham Young-Giorgio (Contact)
To be delivered to: Pierre Omidyar "Ohana Hanalei"
SAVE HANALEI RIDGE...
The green ridge overlooking the Hanalei River and Hanalei Bay is threatened by a luxury development that would perch 25 resort mansions over the river, directly across from Black Pot Park and the canoe clubs.
Hawaii billionaire developer Pierre Omidyar’s proposal to transform the bluffs above the Hanalei River into a haven of exclusive luxury vacation properties would fundamentally alter the scenic, environmental and cultural qualities that have made Hanalei Bay unique and iconic in all of Hawaii.
The project’s site plans show 34 CPR mansions plus 86 luxury resort cottages, with 25 of the mansions lining the length of the ridge, looming over Kaua`i’s children as they paddle and play in the river. Hanalei’s new view from the bay would be a wall of development that would extend from the Princeville Hotel into Hanalei valley.
In addition to scarring the hillside, the lights of this sprawling luxury complex would beam down on the river and Black Pot Park, destroying the dark serenity of the ridge and Hanalei’s Black Pot, Pavilion and Wai`oli beach parks. The nighttime glow would also divert Kaua`i’s native seabirds, which already die in large numbers at Princeville resorts.
For months, Omidyar's “Ohana Hanalei” development company has been carefully marketing its project to a small, hand-picked group of people in an attempt to buy support for the project. “This lobbying effort is steamrolling behind our backs,” one Hanalei Valley resident said.
In response, the Hanalei Bay Coalition was formed to protect Kauakahiunu - the Hawaiian name for the site - before the massive mansion/hotel development goes any farther.
In March the Coalition, which is composed of concerned Kaua`i groups and individuals, respectfully contacted Omidyar to ask for his help to protect Hanalei Bay. Although he lives nearby in Honolulu, his staff rebuffed the community’s offer to meet with him. Instead, the residents were shunted off to his development company - the very group that is working day and night to replace the green hillside with a long parade of McMansions from the river mouth all the way to above Kellett's Landing.
Can we count on this development company to do the right thing? It does not seem likely. The development company has already shown bad faith by blocking for more than four years—with locked gates and security guards—the public shoreline access easement that was deeded to the County years ago. The Coalition asked Mr. Omidyar in March to remove the locked gate that leads to the public access. Nothing happened. Indeed, two months later, the company called the police to eject one fisherman trying to use the deeded public access that has been part of the property since the 1980s.
It is only because the community and brave individuals have once again been forced to conduct the research and fight for their rights that the gate was open and the guards gone on Father’s Day. We hope they stay that way.
Mr. Omidyar has a right to use his property, just like anyone else, subject to the rules. He doesn't get to bulldoze luxury houselots into a scenic historic hillside any more than anyone else does. Our community's watershed plan, the North Shore Development Plan and the state's Special Management Area policies all call for the protection of our viewplanes. Those pristine viewplanes are a crucial part of the low-key, traditional and natural feeling of Hanalei and Hanalei Bay. They are an essential part of what makes this place special for both residents and visitors.
But beyond whatever rights he might have, Mr. Omidyar also has an important responsibility. He has the unique personal ability to either protect or destroy the qualities of one of the most sacred places in Hawaii. The appropriate action for Omidyar’s development company would be to shift all development on this large piece of property back and away from the edge, to preserve Kauakahiunu Ridge, save the viewplane, and protect the seabirds.
If Mr. Omidyar wants this community's support, he must do the right thing. If not, then Kaua`i must just say no to Mr. Omidyar.
--Hanalei Bay Coalition
The Hanalei Bay Coalition is dedicated to the preservation of the scenic, cultural and environmental qualities of Hanalei Bay’s waters and lands.
To stay updated on this issue please follow us on Facebook or check our website:
Note: MoveOn Civic Action does not necessarily endorse the contents of petitions posted on this site. MoveOn Petitions is an open tool that anyone can use to post a petition advocating any point of view, so long as the petition does not violate our terms of service.