HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - More than a hundred people, many of them wearing red T-shirts, lined Ala Moana Boulevard Saturday to protest against possible development in Kakaako Makai.
They were members of several groups that came together for the latest "Save Our Kakaako" rally to hold signs opposing residential development in the area makai of Ala Moana.
"It's very, very important that we have that open area," said Hanalei Fergerstrom of Na Kupuna Moku O Keawe. "We can't keep building all the way to the beach because then we don't have access to the water."
Fergerstrom is among Native Hawaiians who joined in the rally because the development plans involve the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. The agency plans to building on some of the Kakaako parcels it received in a land swap with the state to settle claims over ceded lands.
"We're all really concerned that OHA's route going down this road is a very rocky and a very poorly-designed one," said Julia Brown Kawamoto of Na Kupuna Moku O Kakuhihewa.
Rally organizers said they are focusing on two bills in the legislature, including one measure that would allow OHA to double the current 200-foot height limit in Kakaako Makai.
"So I imagine they're to build condos like those coming on the mauka side at 400 feet. And that really scares me," said Ron Iwami, president of Friends of Kewalos.
OHA said its plans actually call for increasing public access along the waterfront, with a promenade along the Kewalo Basin side of Kakaako Makai where buildings now stand. Residential development would be on three parcels close to Ala Moana, including 919 Ala Moana, a vacant lot just makai of it on Koula Street, and a third vacant lot makai from the Comp USA building.
"These parcels that are along Ala Moana Boulevard and in that area of Kakaako Makai would be consistent with those height limits and those uses that are already allowed," said Kawika Burgess, OHA's chief operating officer.
"We're seeking to generate revenues that are consistent with the $200 million (ceded lands) settlement with the valuation, and the purpose of the revenues again is to support programs and services for Native Hawaiians," he said.
The measure that would allow the height limit increase will go before the Senate Water and Land Committee on Monday.