Hearings held on bills to lift restrictions for Kakaako Makai

Published On: Feb 12 2014 10:08:24 PM HST

Kakaako Makai is one of the last open spaces along Oahu’s south shore and some groups think it ought to stay that way.

Click here to watch Catherine Cruz's report.

"If 30 thousand people are projected for this area, you are going to need open space not less," said Tom Iwai of the Save Our Kakaako.

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs now has control of some 20 acres in the area and has vowed not to put up residential units on the Makai waterfront near Kewalo Basin.

But it is asking for the restriction to be lifted on the other lots to maximize the $200 million as part of a settlement with the state over a crown lands lawsuit.

Opponents don't want any exceptions.

"We don’t want another Waikiki. You can see the residential high rises and speculators coming in.  We don't want that to occur in Kakaako Makai." Iwai said.

OHA acknowledges its plans to develop the parcel closest to the waterfront park will displace an emergency homeless shelter, Friends of the Library and Reuse Hawaii.

"By developing through master planning and the values we would like to incorporate in it we may actually enhance the access and use more of it than the way it us being used now," said Kawika Burgess, OHA’s Chief Operating Officer.

OHA didn’t directly address what might happen to the most interior lot known as the piano lot or plans to raise the height limits.

"Some of the other developments that are allowed in Kakaako go up to 400 feet. Right now we have 200 height limits. That would just open up more options for us," said Burgess.

Native Hawaiians who support the plan are asking opponents to trust OHA saying they know how to "malama aina."

"I think they need to give OHA a chance to show we know how to use land and develop land," Annelle Ameral, who represents the Native Hawaiian Civic Clubs.

The revenue generated would go to support Native Hawaiian programs.

Bills to lift the restrictions have now had hearings in both houses. The measures are expected to head to the judiciary committees.


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