There is ongoing concern in Hawaii Kai over 20 years about over-development and a reduction of open space. One of the outstanding open spaces is the Great Lawn, now center stage in a land-use debate: Open space or commercial development?
The Great Lawn encompasses the area bordered by Hawaii Kai Drive, Kalanianaole Highway and Keahole Street across from Maunalua Bay, and is owned by Kamehameha Schools Bishop Estate. KSBE wants to build a shopping village and “gathering place” on the site with stores, restaurants, an educational facility, and bike and walking paths, anchored by Foodland, which in 2011 lost its lease at Koko Marina.
More than 300 people attended a town hall meeting March 21 at Kamiloiki Elementary School to share concerns about the impending development. This historic meeting was co-sponsored by Sens. Slom and Laura Thielen, Rep. Mark Hashem, City Councilman Stanley Chang, many members of the Hawaii Kai Neighborhood Board, and myself – the first time in recent years all East Honolulu elected officials hosted a joint meeting. Also attending were representatives from Kamehameha Schools, Foodland, The Outdoor Circle, Hui Ilio Hawaii (Dog Park), and Livable Hawaii Kai Hui, for example. While the community expressed affinity for Foodland and Hui Nalu Canoe Club, the overwhelming majority (90 percent-plus) of those in attendance wished to see the Great Lawn preserved as open space. Follow-up polls in greater Honolulu confirm this opposition to another shopping center.
A Honolulu Star-Advertiser poll on March 24, for example, found 50 percent in opposition to commercial development including Foodland on the Great Lawn, 21 percent “don’t care” and 29 percent support. Polls conducted by my office last spring and in January showed around 79 percent opposed.
These polls contrast significantly with one conducted by KSBE finding 72 percent in favor of a shopping center anchored by Foodland. KITV also conducted a poll on the issue and found that 31 percent were in favor of the strip mall, 66 percent not in favor and 3 percent undecided. These polls certainly show the vast majority of residents are against the project.
These polls should not be surprising because Hawaii Kai already has three vibrant shopping centers and one dormant (Kalama Valley). Bottom line of all this: Yes, we love Foodland, but we love Hawaii Kai more.
Contact state Rep. Gene Ward, R-District 17 (Hawaii Kai to Kalama Valley) at 586-6420, firstname.lastname@example.org.