City intervenes in beach access debate in an East Oahu community
HAWAII KAI, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The battle over beach access in the Portlock community may soon come to an end after the city took its first step in resolving the conflict Tuesday.
Access to Maunalua Bay and a popular surf spot known as "Seconds" was cut off earlier this year after a homeowner installed a gate — a move that upset many neighbors and community members.
"I think it's disgusting that someone would attempt to take the public access away and use terms like my beach things like that," community member Chris Cramer said.
The City Council Executive Matters and Legal Affairs committee passed a resolution Tuesday for the city to condemn and acquire an easement for the private lane where the gate currently stands.
One property owner, Bert Dohmen-Ramirez, has said in media reports he thinks the lane would be worth $2 million.
Hawaii News Now asked Council Chair Ron Menor if the city could potentially afford condemning the property.
"I don't want to speculate because it's going to be up to the City administration to do an appraisal," Menor said.
The resolution is just the beginning of a long process.
"The council would have to identify a funding source within the city budget to pay for the condemnation," Menor added.
Twenty years ago, the City Council took up a similar resolution to acquire the lane, but it failed because of a technical matter.
In an email to the city Tuesday, Dohmen wrote of crime and vandalism caused of trespassing and he took aim at the City Council.
"You are placing our safety and our lives in tremendous danger," wrote Dohmen-Ramirez. "I suspect there is an agenda of discrimination and perhaps racism by some people on the city council," he said in his email.
But other vowed to keep fighting for public access.
"We are not going anywhere. That beach is for everyone and we will be here to continue the fight for everyone," said Ann Marie Kirk of Livable Hawaii Kai Hui.
Councilman Trevor Ozawa, who represents East Honolulu, says he introduced the resolution because the community asked him.
"It's generated solely by the community that is impacted and has in many ways divided our community," said Ozawa.
Menor doesn't think buying this path will lead to a rash of beach access condemnations because each situation is unique.
The resolution now goes to the full council. If approved, two different homeowners would eventually be compensated.
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