by: Mari-Ela David
KAILUA (KHNL) - A six-foot gate is at the center of a big community debate. The controversy has been brewing in Kailua for nearly 20 years, but recently took a heated turn.
Wednesday evening, the community gathered to voice their concerns.
The meeting had such a huge turnout, organizers brought in an officer to make sure it didn't get out of hand.
The gate is on private property, so homeowners have the right to put it up. The problem - critics say the gate infringes on their right to access the beach.
"The gate code is supposed to be only provided for the members, the residents and their immediate family," says Trudy Moncrief, one of the homeowners at L'Orange Place who is against the gate.
The gate homeowners at L'orange place voted to install has Kailua's community so divided, they let out their frustrations at a monthly talk-story session Honolulu City Council Chair Barbara Marshall holds.
"You're going from something that was open and free to something restrictive and tight and controlled," says Moncrief.
"These people with all these million dollars they're moving into these properties and they're creating private beaches for themselves," Kailua resident Ricky Bermudez.
But supporters say the gate is in the name of safety, saying they've suffered a rash of break-in's and burglaries in recent years.
"Vehicles would come in all hours of the morning, 2:00, 3:00 in the morning. There'd be a lot of noise in the morning, you'd get up and you'd find cans, used condoms in the hedge," says L'Orange Place resident John Price.
"We don't want to block people from going to the beach, we think everybody has a right to go to the beach here. We don't think it's too much to ask them to walk down the public right of way," says Dianne Price, also a homeowner on L'Orange Place.
That right of way is just 200 steps away from the gate. But critics say it's inconvenient.
"It's not acceptable. It's not acceptable for the kapuna, the elders. It's too long, it's the same length as Kailua field," says Bermudez.