HALEIWA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - North Shore residents are suing to block the city's plan to sell Haleiwa Beach Park, saying the deal will restrict shoreline access for hundreds of beach goers.
In a Circuit Court suit filed Monday, the Save Haleiwa Beach Park Coalition says the city failed to obtain the necessary permits to close the park and auction it off.
"The case asks that the city be blocked from closing the southern end of Haleiwa Beach Park until such time that they complied with the proper environmental laws," said Jim Bickerton, attorney for the coalition.
The city wants to auction the 3.5-acre, vacant parcel to one of the two private landowners -- Kamehameha Schools and local developer D.G. Andy Anderson -- who own properties right next to the park. Kamehameha Schools wants to establish a cultural park that will provide access to its nearby fishpond. Anderson wants to build a $20 million, 80-room boutique hotel.
The beach park, located on the mauka side of Kamehameha Highway across the ocean front, is one of dozens of surplus or remnant properties that the city is considering selling off. Other parcels include undeveloped lots in the Ewa Villages redevelopment project, the former Aiea Sugar Mill site and portions of the Leftover Beach Access Park and Uppers Surfing Support Park in Haleiwa.
The city says it can only sell these surplus properties to owners of adjacent properties. A city spokeswoman declined comment, citing the pending litigation.
Haleiwa resident Steve Baldonado said the beach park is used by hundreds of local residents, who park their cars and trailers on the property and use it to gain access to the shoreline. "I use it every Sunday and every day I can get away. It's part of my life on that beach," said Baldonado, a member of the coalition suing the city.
"I sincerely believe the city should not close an actively used public park."
The city acquired the park in 1969 through condemnation with the aim of building a regional park. Those plans were never realized and now the city is now seeking a minimum of $300,000 from the two bidders.
Anderson declined comment on the contents of the lawsuit. The new hotel is expected to add about 100 resort and restaurant jobs and dozens of temporary construction positions.