Palolo Valley developer, residents look for solutions after several recent rockfalls

After several rockfalls in Palolo Valley, a developer is working to brainstorm solutions with residents.
Published: Mar. 25, 2023 at 5:37 PM HST|Updated: Mar. 25, 2023 at 5:38 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - After several recent rockfalls in Palolo Valley, a developer is working to brainstorm solutions with residents.

Developer Peter Savio spoke before dozens of people at Ali’iolani Elementary School to figure out what the best solution would be to keep boulders along the ridge from tumbling down and crashing into homes.

Rock mitigation expert Cliff Tillotson, of Prometheus Construction, said an impact fence could cost around $10 million and last at least 75 years.

“You can just replace the cables and the netting and still take advantage of the posts and the anchors,” said Tillotson.

To fund the fence, Savio suggests the city give people the legal right to add a second unit to their property.

He said it would cost homeowners $50,000.

“The 50,000 will go to reimburse the city for building the retention fence, which protects the whole community so it’s kind of a tradeoff,” said Savio.

“And if you realize we’re talking about a mile of fence, probably a $10 million cost, we only need 200 buyers.”

Savio said the idea would still need to be reviewed by attorneys and the city, but longtime Palolo resident Dale Nakayama said he would make the investment.

“Because my house is right there so I’m gonna reap the full benefit by the protection of it plus be able to have my property worth more.”

Some residents, however, fear it will encourage overdevelopment.

Residents like Barbara Moriyama would rather have trees as a barrier.

“He plants the trees on the edges faster, or even each homeowner planting the trees, it would be better than the ugly fence that you’re going to build up there,” said Moriyama.

“The trees are the best solution and the cheapest to me.”

Savio said he was in the process of building a native forest in Palolo but that was put on the back burner during COVID.

“I think it would take maybe five to ten years for the trees to get big enough so the trunks, the root systems would be thick enough to stop rocks from coming through, holding them in place,” said Savio. “But my guess is we could probably get the fence built within a year or two.”