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State eyes encroachment at Kahala Resort

By Catherine Cruz
Published On: Mar 14 2013 04:55:00 PM HST

Officials say the swanky Kahala Resort might be encroaching on state land.

HONOLULU -

A local fisherman complained to the state when a hotel employee told him he couldn’t throw net in the lagoon fronting the Kahala hotel.

Other beachgoers complained to the neighborhood board, when they were asked to leave the area since they weren't hotel guests.

That prompted the state to take a closer look.

It found what could be a more serious problem.

A wedding gazebo may in fact be on state land.

But the state gets no cut from Kahala wedding packages that range from $3,000 to more than $7,000.

On top of that, the state says a raft in the lagoon is illegally moored.

And there are other questions about a yoga pavillion, and a nearby pool concession, and  beach chairs that are set on the shoreline.

Three years ago, the neighborhood board first took residents’ complaints to City Councilman Stanley Chang.

 "The key is it's really both a county and state issue because the state controls the water line and from there it is the city so you get some jurisdictional issues," said Waialae-Kahala Board member Scotty Anderson.

Encroachment has been a longstanding issue with Kahala residents.

The board waged a fight against private landowners who were trying to block public access with landscaping so it appeared the beach was private property.

Three decades ago. Kahala attorney Rich Turbin forced the issue with the Big Island’s Mauna Kea Hotel. Turbin’s sister was asked to leave the beach because she wasn’t a hotel guest.

“The state had Mauna Kea sign a covenant that it would not exclude the public, Hawaii residents from the use of the Mauna Kea Beach. That helped to establish the rule of law that everyone had access to the beaches. The entire population of Hawaii must be able to use the beaches. That’s been long established by our supreme court," said Turbin.

Back at Kahala, the state is poised to either grant the hotel an easement or take enforcement action.

But consider this, the land board was sued in February after it granted a 10-year easement to the Four Seasons Maui Grand Wailea for activities that encroached on state land.

The suit claims the move sets a bad precedent by legitimizing illegal operations.

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