My Turn: Magic Sands project deserves contested case

It’s crazy what’s on the table with our county. There are huge concerns when a developer submits a request for exemption to County of Hawaii housing rules by offering over 50% of affordable housing.

I do not object to this development near Magic Sands Beach, it’s just the wrong place and wrong time. It would be wonderful, as I was told of the affordable housing portion that the developer is not allowed to make money on this. Really, it sounds wonderful.

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In this situation, who will pay for the homeowners association fees, knowing if you do not pay this, you can immediately lose your property? Will the property be resold at affordable rates? Who has the priority?

I was told the 150 parking spaces for Magic Sands Beach will be paid parking. So, the public pays for the use, and funds go directly to homeowners association fees for a swimming pool, fitness center, etc. Does the public have any say on this?

This project targets median affordable markets. How about the very low-income people? Shouldn’t they be the priority since they would be first in line as to becoming homeless?

A meeting is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Thursday before the Leeward Planning Commission at the Hawaii Civic Center, Building G.

On the agenda is Kulani View LLC’s request to change 8.8 acres of agricultural land, which allows one and possibly two residences on a flood zone, “Waiaha.” It plans mass grading to establish for building and parking. Existing conditions prove runoff already exists, heavy rainfall flows over Alii Drive, across the Laaloa Beach Park, and into the Pacific Ocean. Note, this parcel fell out of escrow three times because of flooding.

The request is to now to change the 8.8 acres agricultural zoning to urban, now 50 units.

Because the lot is less than 15 acres, the change can be made at the county level. As it stands the public is allowed only to comment of three minutes, and no contested hearing is allowed? Why?

Because the public basically does not need a public notice. The only reason it’s on the agenda is because this property is located within the SMA, special management area.

Contested cases should be allowed. Many huge projects that concern our community take more than communication of just three minutes. It allows the public to get involved with the decision-makers to understand how it affects us and not just a developer who lives out of state. It should be positive and not negative. They need to know our land aina is a special place abused in the past and, moving forward, we all know what we allowed in the past cannot continue. We need to malama and take care of all our natural resources and history.

Alii Drive was the chief residence, the Royal Centers. For the future generation and our culture, we need to malama our heritage of agricultural, too. Hawaiians survived here not with money, but trading resources. The chiefs of Alii Drive enjoyed nature, surfing, fishing, canoeing and, yes, agriculture was huge.

This has a lot of red flags and will send a strong precedent that will affect all the other sitting lots of Alii Drive awaiting to get a green light to start major construction.

At this time, the environmental assessments for other nearby project are on hold because, as stated by police, “no more development on Alii Drive if this in the only exit unless Alii Highway is up and running.”

This is strictly to avoid the bottle neck situation of the past tsunami evacuation. Let me refresh people on what happened then: Cars were backed up on Alii Drive, at a dead stop, all the way up Kamehameha III Road. An accident occurred and cars went to the top only to have to turn around, taking 45 minutes to get back down, and then wait at a dead stop. Up Royal Poinciana Drive, near Kahakai Elementary School, the traffic stood at a standstill.

I went to the traffic meeting to address what happened. I was told the cop told everyone to get out of their cars and start running.

Daily trips from this project will total 336 by 2023 and the plan indicates a left turn would not be warranted on Alii Drive.

This hearing is very important, especially in the SMA area around Alii Drive, and not allowing anyone to contest it is of concern.

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The Kona Community Development Plan draft is now posted online. On page 143, item 593, it would be wonderful to add all of Alii Drive to the “Wahi Pana” designation and create a Special Area Plan that will protect the natural resources, preserve their storied past and perpetuate agricultural traditions and unique rural style.

Simmy McMichael is a resident of Kailua-Kona.