Camp Kailua Demolition Blocked

Judge says city must get permit

Advertiser staff writer Andy Yamaguchi contributed to this report

HONOLULU – A Circuit Court judge yesterday blocked the city administration’s effort to demolish Camp Kailua, the longtime community gathering place at Kailua Beach Park.

Judge Robert Klein said the city Department of Parks and Recreation will have to obtain a special management area permit from the City Council before it can proceed with the demolition.

City Councilman Steve Holmes hailed the ruling last night as “a tremendous victory,” and said it means the demolition will not occur.

“I feel confident I have five votes on the council to condition the required shoreline management area permit so they can’t demolish Camp Kailua, ” Holmes said.

“I will be asking Budget Chair Rene Mansho to consider appropriating moneys to renovate the Camp Kailua structures for renewed use b the community.”

Holmes said $300,000 in city funds, with matching funds from the state had been proposed earlier for the renovation.

Deputy Corporation Counsel Karl Ichida, the city’s civil lawyer handling the case, said he would reserve comment until he reads Klein’s decision.

“I have to read the order and see if it can be appealed or not,” Ichida said.

The city had not scheduled a demolition date, Ichida said.

The decision was a victory for community activists who saw the demolition literally paving the way for expansion of the parking area at the popular windward park and increasing use by tour bus operators kept away from Hanauma Bay be recent restrictions.

Klein, in an order released by his office late yesterday, indicated he is granting a petition filed by Hawaii’s Thousand Friends, an environmental organization represented by attorneys Cynthia Thielen and Thomas Grande.

The order said when the Department of Parks and Recreation presented the demolition proposal to the Department of Land Utilization, DLU didn’t consider the demolition part of a larger project that might impact the special management area, said Thielen’s daughter, Laura Thielen, also an attorney.

Laura Thielen said when a demolition is or may become a part of a larger project, the cumulative impact of which may have significant environmental or ecological effect on the special management area, the law requires that the use be defined as “development” and be subject to regulation.

Cynthia Thielen got the news form her daughter while on a business trip in Seattle yesterday. “It’s a landmark decision,” Cynthia Thielen said. “I’m very glad the court would not allow the city to segment a project. If you allow the city to get away wit segmenting projects what you’re doing is decimating the law.”

Councilman Holmes said the ruling means the judge agreed with citizens that “it’s time the city followed its own regulations. It has been clear from the beginning that this was part of a $3 million project planned for the area, and far more than a small demolition,” he said.

Holmes said mayor Frank Fasi “was blunt about the fact that there is tremendous pressure to move commercial tour operations to other areas because of the closure of the Hanauma Bay.”

The community group, formed to oppose the demolition, was prepared to “come out and stand in front of the bulldozers” if necessary to dramatize their protest, Holmes said.

Holmes said that Council’s view on the matter was made known when a resolution to protect Camp Kailua passed unanimously several months ago.

contact Mark Davis

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