HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Park users of the Makalei and Leahi Beach Parks near Diamond Head are protesting the city’s decision to block off access to parts of the shoreline.
Over the holidays, the city suddenly erected fences at both ends of a walkway on a seawall between the two beaches.
The move has angered park users like Brandon Morimoto, who has fished at Makalei Beach for decades.
“This is absurd," he said. “It has to come down, it gotta come down, 100% gotta come down.”
Many nearby residents and park users weren’t even aware it was a city project.
They expressed concerns that the fences were put up to protect the privacy of rich people who own homes along the coast.
Even the city’s own Planning and Permitting Department didn’t know that it was a city project when Hawaii News Now asked about the fences Thursday morning.
“We got a complaint earlier this week and sent an inspector. He’s doing research to determine if this is in the city’s jurisdiction," DPP spokesman Curtis Lum wrote, in an email.
Nearly seven hours later, city Managing Director Roy Amemiya said the city had in fact built the fences after settling a lawsuit by a someone who fell on the walkway.
“In an effort to avoid a similar incident from occurring in the future, the city recently erected fencing that restricts access to the area," Amemiya wrote.
Many hope the city reconsiders.
“To me, I’d like to get the access restored. I feel it’s a right of way and it’s beach access and to have these walls constructed is not helping our community," said Diamond Head resident Alexi Drouin.
The city is apologizing for the inconvenience, but said it has no plans to remove the fences.