Waikiki bill splits areas and opinions

Waikiki bill splits areas and opinions
Published: Feb. 26, 2015 at 11:11 PM HST|Updated: Feb. 27, 2015 at 5:06 AM HST
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Rick Egged
Rick Egged
Michelle Matson
Michelle Matson

WAIKIKI (HawaiiNewsNow) - How Bill 82 would pay for projects has been met with widespread support.

"The funds would all come from the commercial properties in Waikiki, so residents don't pay. Our board voted unanimously to support it, I heard the protests were pretty minimal" said Rick Egged of the Waikiki Improvement Association.

The bill would create the Waikiki Beach Special Improvement District, where private sector funds would be collected for restoration and improvement projects.

However, it's in the language--and the district boundaries---of the bill, where opposition is fervent.

"My thought, and among other people, is that they have ulterior motives, and that would be in the Kaimana Beach area, perhaps the Natatorium" said Dr. Jeremy Lam of the Kaimana Beach Coalition. Those 'ulterior motives' according to Dr. Lam, would be commercial encroachment. The vague language of the bill could allow for development in the area.

"That's certainly not the way we see it. The only reason we included it is because the whole beach is contiguous and it should be considered together" countered Egged.

Opponents say, there's no need to do so.

"It still doesn't make sense because there's no sand replacement problem at Kaimana to Kapahulu Avenue" said Lam.

Nor is there any sand--eroded or otherwise--at the Ala Wai Harbor, as Michelle Matson of the Oahu Island Parks Conservancy, pointed out in a conversation with Hawaii News Now. She also noted that the mauka side of the canal is included in the district, as is the Waikiki Yacht Club, which is outside the boundary entirely.

Opponents would like the Kaimana area to not be included in the district, and remain skeptical.

"We still question about the other improvements they could make, and we would prefer it to be specific for the sand replenishment" noted Lam.

The matter is due in front of the zoning and planning committee in April.

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