Tag Archives: Ernie Martin

Choon James: Open Letter to Chair Ernie Martin & Honolulu City Council – Bill 1


Aloha Honorable Chair City Council Ernie Martin (District 2), Ikaika Anderson, Carol Fukunaga, Ron Menor, Kymberly Pine, Brandon Elefante, Ann Kobayashi, Trevor Ozawa, and Joey Manahan.

During the Primary Elections campaign for your seat, ALL four candidates – Robert Bobby Bunda, Dave Burlew, Choon James, Heidi Tsuneyoshi have publicly stated that they are for agricultural lands preservation. Particularly, at the Hauula Candidates Forum and the Kahuku Candidates Forum, the question was asked directly about Bill 1. ALL candidates stated that they were against the alleged 200 homes proposed on so-called “North Laie”. They were against expanding the community growth boundaries between Laie and Malaekahana, a subdistrict of Kahuku. Unless the candidates are lying to get votes, this reflects each candidate’s position.

Additionally, the most robust indication of the general population’s sentiments can be found in Senator Gil Riviere’s position on Bill 1 ( aka Bill 47 or Bill 53). Senator Riviere has consistently testified in person at City Council hearings in support of Bill 1 aka Bill 47 and aka Bill 53, without further amendments to expand the boundary growth into the agricultural Malaekahana area. Senator Riviere has been clear and precise. There is no ambiguity in his actions or words through the years as the Senator for this district. He most recently received a strong 67% of the public vote on August 11, 2018. This reflects a mandate from the people of this area.

During the past two short months that I myself have campaigned for your City Council seat for District 2, I received the same feedback from our residents.

While I could not quickly share the record of my decades old advocacy and civic activism to  garner enough votes in Wahiawa and Mililani Mauka this primary elections, I have again received the confirmation that our residents in District 2 and all over Oahu want to KEEP THE COUNTRY COUNTRY! And it’s not because they are against housing.

They do not want to see the entire island of Oahu paved over and turned into a parking lot. The other issue that is consistently brought up is the costs of living and traffic. Your residents are fed-up and up-in- arms about the Laniakea traffic that destroys their quality of life with daily frustrations and angst of traffic jam. Residents are fed-up with having to work two or three jobs to keep up with the rising fees, taxes and other costs.

From Kahalu’u to Hale’iwa, our small communities are connected by the 100 year old 2 lane Kamehameha Hwy. They are angry that the politicians who supposedly represent them are not considering the carrying capacity of infrastructures in our rural communities and yet continue to lure more and more tourists into the area. They are not happy that farm lands are disappearing and displaced with homes that they cannot afford. No one is against housing but most are leery of gentrification where the most affluent will chase the less affluent out of this region.

As you know, the Ko’olauloa Sustainable Communities Plan has been in limbo as Bill 47, Bill 53 and Bill 1 for the nearly past eight (8) years that you have been in office.

Many of us find it highly unfair and unethical for you, as it appears, to now want to push this Bill 1 through at the very last few months of your tenure as the City Council man for this district.

This Ko’olauloa Sustainable Communities Plan has been in limbo for nearly 8 years; what’s the problem with waiting for a few more months for the new city council member to more fully address it. After all, your staff, Heidi Tsuneyoshi, city council member-elect, has publicly stated her position AGAINST it at various public forums during the campaign.

I submit that there are more questions than answers to the latest Hawaii Reserves, Inc  (HRI) proposal in Bill 1. It has not been veted by the community of Laie or at large. Residents-at-large are opposed to sacrificing their quality of life to appease the economic goals of HRI. This include many residents of Laie.  If I were the council member-elect, I would engage directly with the residents first, without HRI or its staunch supporter LCA, present.

Laie residents have relevant questions like whether it’s fee simple or leasehold, rental or outright ownership?

Who will be eligible for these homes? Laie or Ko’olauloa region?

What is the price?

What are the terms and conditions?

Is there a buyback clause?

Is there a surrender clause?

What other developments and amenities are in the works not yet revealed and so forth.

Because Mr. Eric Beaver of HRI refused to provide pertinent specifics in writing, who is to say that “affordable housing” could not be cancelled again in the future? It happened in 2008 after HRI raised the hopes and dreams of Laie residents for decades:

“Feasibility estimates pose an unacceptable risk at this time,” Beaver said in the statement. “Cost of the entitlement process, current market and political conditions, moderate community support, and other nearby residential development plans were key factors in our decision to stop the project.

Beaver told The Advertiser yesterday that a combination of factors would have resulted in homes that would cost more than the citizens who were to benefit from it could pay.”

As a matter of public policy, BIll 1 cannot be solely for Envision Laie. Laie is not an island. It has to be ENVISION KO’OLAULOA or even ENVISION NORTH SHORE because Hale’iwa, Pupukea, Sunset Beach, Kahuku, Lai’e, Hau’ula, Punalu’u, Kahana, Ka’a’awa, Kualoa, Wai’ahole, and Kahalu’u are all connected by the same arterial 100-year-old 2-lane country road named “Kamehameha Highway”. The multiplier impacts of this public policy that contradict the existing Oahu General Plan and the Ko’olauloa Sustainable Communities Plan are severe and significant.

Furthermore, may I respectfully urge you to leave a wonderful legacy of protecting the welfare and happiness of our Residents First. My campaign platform of placing a cap on property taxes for local residents who have lived in their homes for 15 years or more is urgently needed. Our senior residents who live on fixed income and social security are afraid of being priced out of house and home. They want to be able to pass on their generational home to their children. This can be done if there is political will. California had their Proposition 13 in 1978. What are we waiting for?

During the course of the campaign, your staff  and candidate Heidi Tsuneyoshi also quickly adopted my idea. I consider imitation as the best form of flattery.  Certainly, there must be consensus and recognition at this point in time that this is a much-needed action to take to protect our residents. I would be most happy to work with you and all our city council members to begin this process.

I sincerely wish you well in your future endeavors and compliment you for running for the highly-contested race for House of Congress. Please adopt Bill 1 as originally proposed by City Councilman Ikaika Anderson on January 2017 or defer Bill 1 to 2019 for the new city councilwoman-elect Heidi Tsuneyoshi who has stated her opposition to this recent new amendment on her campaign trail.


Choon James

ChoonJames Hawaii@gmail.com

Choon James has been a successful small businesswoman for 30 years. She’s happily married to her PhD husband for 40 years and mother of four Eagle Scouts and one princess. She has been a long-time community advocate for good government and private property rights. She has also been an activist for Environmental, Social, and Economic Justice. She also works on their family organic farm. She self-financed her recent City Council campaign with no funds from lobbyists or corporations.


Kahuku Plantation Village Residents Witnessed Re-internment of ‘Iwi kupuna’

Two re-internment ceremonies were held at Kahuku Plantation Camp amidst continuing controversies


On January 11, 2014, a group of Kahuku Plantation Camp residents witnessed the re-internment of ‘iwi kupuna’ that were found in the grounds around the decades-old plantation homes. Landowner Continental Pacific, LLC handling  of the ‘iwi kupuna’ cultural and other procedures had precipitated controversies.

At the ceremony, the Kahu distributed printed material of ” Aloha Aina Iwi Kupuna – Protocols – Ten Prayers ( oli, pule, mele )” to those in attendance. They were printed in English and Hawaiian Language versions. The Prayers include The Lord’s Prayers,  an ole written by Edith Kanaka’ole,  and the Queen’s Prayer ( Ke Aloha O Ka Haku) by Queen Lili’uokalani, as listed below:

The Queen’s Prayer

Your loving mercy

Is as high as Heaven

And your truth

So perfect

I live in sorrow


You are my light

Your glory, my support

Behold not with malevolence

The sins of man

But forgive

And cleanse

And so, o Lord

Protect us beneath your wings

And let peace be our portion

Now and forever more 


The first ‘iwi kupuna’ was housed in a lauhala box and buried in about a three (3) feet deep setting;  fresh sand was shoveled into the plot and a cement block was placed on top of it. There would be a marker later on. (This site is located behind the Rainbow Schools vicinity.)

The two governmental agencies charged to address  and regulate ‘iwi kupuna’  issues are 1) The State Historic Preservation Division (SHPD) that falls in under the jurisdiction of the Department of Land and Natural Resources ( DLNR)  and 2) The Oahu Island Burial Council (OIBC).

There  was a DLNR ranger in uniform and also a DLNR  uniformed policeman  in attendance.

Kali Fermantez, a recently appointed member of the Oahu Island Burial Council was  also in attendance. He spoke a few words at the first ceremony focusing on respect for the ‘iwi kupuna’ and forgiveness despite the ‘pilikia’ surrounding the Kahuku Plantation Camp.

We later asked permission to video tape our questions and his responses regarding procedures but he declined, explaining he was a very private person. His wish was respected.


After the first re-internment ceremony, Kahuku villagers walked to the next re-internment  ceremony at Simplicio Caban’s home. ‘Iwi Kupuna’ human remains were found next to his house when water pipe trenching was being done.


Villagers gathered around in reverence as the second re-internment ceremony  (abbreviated this time)  was conducted.



Kawika Farm from SHPD held  the  second set of ‘iwi kupuna’ at  the Saturday’s re-internment ceremonies.


This metal plate was provided by SHPD as a marker as well as a caution for future encounters with trenching in the area.  The metal plate should help reveal the significance of this site, according to Farm from SHPD.


The fresh sand covered SHPD’s metal plate. They said it would be leveled and finalized later.

On this day, the dead may appear to be put to rest but the living  are forced to fight on.


While the ceremonies were going on at the mauka side of the Kahuku Plantation Camp, golfers can be seen at the 122-acre Kahuku “Municipal” Golf Course on the makai side. The iconic beachfront course is also undergoing a watershed transformation; it’s on the verge of being sold to a Chinese investor. Residents worry that the course could be transformed into another resort-residential subdivision or an expensive golf course that the public can no longer afford.


In the meanwhile, the above Condominium Spatial Unit V- 21 has been cleared and footings can be seen for a  new house. This spatial unit is located next to Kahuku Village Plantation Association President Glen Maghanoy’s former plantation home in the background.


Maghanoy‘s eviction was approved by Judge Hillary Gangnes. Professional movers completed the Maghanoy eviction during the Thanksgiving of 2013. Maghanoy was on the mainland visiting with his daughter and claimed that valuable items were stolen from him, including his guitars, tool box, about $3,000 cash (hidden inside the house), and his children’s deceased mom’s black pearl jewelry.

Because Maghanoy was not present at the execution of the Writ of Possession by the movers, he could not take pictures of the event. Neighbors had signed declaration of seeing the guitars being laid on the grounds; in fact, one of the movers was playing  Maghanoy’s ukulele.

The  day’s re-internment ceremonies focused on respect for the ‘iwi kupuna’ along with  messages of forgiveness.


However, to many Kahuku Plantation Village residents, ‘forgiveness’ cannot be used as a convenient tool for Continental Pacific, LLC and its affiliates to absolve themselves of past wrongs and continuing pilikia that surround the camp.


About thirty-one (31) long time plantation camp families are in danger of being evicted.  Glen Maghanoy and the Eugenio family were the first in line to be evicted.


Choon James: Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s “Town Hall Meeting” in Kahuku – a Dog and Pony Show

Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s “Town Hall Meeting” in Kahuku – a Dog and Pony Show:

First, the Press Releases about Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s “town hall meeting” from his office are dispersed to the various social media outlets:

City Hall is coming to Ko’olauloa Nov. 19 when the mayor brings his cabinet to Kahuku High School cafeteria for a town hall meeting.

The event will run from 6 to 8 p.m. and is designed to address area residents’ concerns about road and sewer infrastructure, bus service, park maintenance and events, efforts to tackle the homelessness problem and more. 

Mayor Kirk Caldwell and his department directors also will report on the administration’s priorities. The public is encouraged to participate and make suggestions.”

Jesse Broder Van Dyke

Communications Director

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell

Direct: (808) 768-6928

Cell: (808) 489-0341


The Kahuku Town Hall Meeting was met with a protest outside the Kahuku High School by citizens against Caldwell’s agenda to cement the Country. But the Mayor’s televised show did not disclose any of that.


About half of those in attendance were his cabinet members and city employees. The first four rows of the Kahuku High School cafeteria were occupied by his entourage who provided robust applause for the Mayor. The middle section of the cafeteria was occupied by more of the Mayor’s entourage, with some refreshments spread out on the table.


There were approximately 50 city employees. Others in attendance were recognized community activists and citizens. There was less than a handful of known Caldwell supporters.  Steven Wheelwright  – Brigham Young University-Hawaii President – and his wife were there for a short period. David Lewis, BYU-H Vice-President of Construction was a lone figure with his baby blue Envision Laie t-shirt. There were also policemen and several plainclothes policemen.


The Mayor used all the right words and pushed the right political buttons using his “Waipahu roots”, peppered with some pidginspeak, and he didn’t forget to remind the audience of his “compassion”.  But his showmanship did not fool the astute citizens.


Marisa Yamane and Joe Moore from Khon 2 TV  reported a more accurate description of what happened at the Town Hall meeting with Mayor Kirk Caldwell.


The meeting was tightly-controlled. There was no direct questioning. Those who wanted to “participate” had to write their questions on a piece of paper to be submitted to the mayor.  They requested name, address and email address. There was no opportunity for clarifications or rebuttal during this promotional tour that was on the city’s dime.


Some found the music -“All Hawaii Stand Together” written by Uncle Liko Martin – used by Caldwell insulting and ironic. Mayor Kirk Caldwell has not met a development he does not like. Hawaiians are up in arms against the disappearance of their inheritances, aina, values and culture. Ko’olauloa is one of very last regions that has some semblance of local lifestyle.


Hawaii News Now Rick Daysog‘s reporting lacked objectivity, including the following:

“The mayor’s town hall meeting at Kahuku High School on Tuesday was well attended by groups both in favor and opposed to the Koolau Loa Sustainability plan.”

Reality: The mayor’s entourage made up half the attendance. There were less than a dozen Caldwell supporters. The rest were residents and Defend Oahu Coalition members who wanted an honest discussion, that never took place.

DSC08984Daysod interviewed former state lawmaker Bob Nakata who said, ” he supported the city’s transit-oriented development plan because it promised to confine large-scale construction to urban areas. But now he’s changing his mind.

“This Malaekahana development will make Laie and Kahuku one big urban area,” said Nakata.


Here are some grassroots reactions to the “Town Hall Meeting”:

Hauula Resident Joshua Noga: Mayor Town Hall Meeting More of a Campaign Stop. Last night Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell came to Kahuku High School Cafeteria along with forty of his staff to meet with Ko’olau Loa residents in what he called a town hall meeting. The meeting was anything but a town hall meeting, but resembled more of a stop on his campaign trail. I have never been to a town hall meeting where the public were not able to express their concerns directly but was instead told to write their questions down on a piece of paper. The questions were hand picked by the mayor as to which he would answer and were then read aloud by a member of his staff.

Community members present watched in amazement as the mayor thumbed through questions, his face turned red with embarrassment as he looked for safe questions to answer. Let it be known that Mayor Caldwell supports an urbanization plan that looks to amend the Oahu General Plan, a plan that would violate native Hawaiian tenant rights of kuleana landholders, rezone state-districted Ag lands in Malaekahana, and rezone Laie as resort community like Waikiki. Let also be known that the Ko’olau Loa Hawaiian Civic, Waikane-Waiahole Community Association, Kaaawa Community Association, Friends of Kahana, Punalu’u Community, Hauula Community Association,  and neighborhood boards from Manoa to Ewa oppose the urbanization of Ko’olau Loa currently known as Bill 47. Keep the Country COUNTRY!
Joshua Noga- Hauula, HI
Ko’olau Loa Hawaiian Civic Club


Ka’a’awa Resident:  Andrea Peatmoss:

“The ‘presentations’ section was too long. Since our sole 2 lane Kamehameha Highway is a State road, the long pothole story was too long; and we won’t have much to do with Rail and only Laie has a sewer, ( still on federal consent decree that taxpayers now pay for it sounded like, but you couldn’t ask questions until after), a lot was largely irrelevant to most people.

Mayor Caldwell whizzed thru one Envision Laie question -again only a written question – and said nobody will be happy with the results, more or less. He focused on a Kahuku has such close ohana tradition plantation camp but too many generations in a house issue to Then you were to talk to the individual staff afterwards- which was difficult physically to stand around to do – and as you waited you couldn’t really hear if the person before you had just asked the same question of that person. 


 Kahuku Plantation Camp Robert Trotter: “When I approached our honorable mayor last night, he pulled his hand back, instead of out to shake my hand. First politican to not want to make the traditional move. I must have the look of a destitute homeless person. Besides the five or six uniformed police officers, there were at least seven or more very large undercover police roaming the meeting, giving poeple the look. There were more staff and caldwells people than others. he answered questions written down, but maybe 10 questions out of an easy 150 we the people delivered. A beauitful dog and pony show, but the dog was showing many large teeth.”


Kahuku Resident: Angela Huntemer:  Thank you for filling us in on that – I couldn’t go and was wondering what happened. The week before he took direct questions from the audience at Waialua – because there were hardlly any members of the public. Glad I didn’t have to be the one to find easy questions for the mayor… that would have been difficult. Imua!


Hau’ula Resident Joshua Noga: Wow that makes this even more crazy. Caldwell and his staff should be embarrassed by that showing. To not even allow community members to express their concerns directly defeats the very purpose of having a town hall meeting. That’s why we have to call him out on his bs and hold him accountable.

We got white washed, and shoved under the pavement below the bus. Two topics bus, and pavement he spent some time on. Would have helped if the told the true factor, paving oahu the going rate in construction cost million dollars a mile.

Ka’a’awa Resident Andrea Peatmoss: I did not care for the format of it. The questions section needed to be open to all to ask and be answered instead of afterwards. Public content safe this way. No mention of the Ethics Commission investigation I thought he might defend himself or staff regarding either.

As for condemnation via eminent domain question, it was “absolutely the last resort ” he said. However, knowing how Choon James‘ property is being affected and Hau’ula lost its recycling center via eminent domain for a NEW fire station, I wonder. If we have $20 million, we have $20 million. Allocation is a City decision, right?


Now we have no recycle center and a temporary golf course owned by private (foreign ) investor in escrow and existing trauma in Kahuku Village of evictions. Kahuku had an ‘affordable’ housing plan years ago that never got built. Where did that money go? Between that project and the 550 residential units not built WITHIN Laie that have been approved for years but not built, the lack of sufficient dormitory housing on campus for students and the illegal Vacation Rentals by Owners (hundreds near Laie), we have a housing shortage that could be solved without destroying the scenic resources of the Moku and its irreplaceable wild coastline for URBAN SPRAWL. What cannot be solved without huge H-4 type money investment for taxpayers, way over the cost of Rail, is that extra traffic on the sole eroding 2 lane Kamehameha Highway that Turtle Bay Expansion and Envision Laie alone cause. Double the population. Add to that the expected increase in tourists to 7,500,000 (10,500 a day out here in Ko’olauLoa) and the thousands of already zoned vacant residential lands within the Moku. Do the math! 

Andrea Peatmoss I did not care for the format of it. The questions section needed to be open to all to ask and be answered instead of afterwards. Public content safe this way. No mention of the Ethics Commission investigation I thought he might defend himself or staff regarding either. As for condemnation via eminent domain question, it was “absolutely the last resort ” he said.

However, knowing how Choon James’ property is being affected and Hau’ula lost its recycling center via eminent domain for a NEW fire station, I wonder. If we have $20 million , we have $20 million. Allocation is a City decision, right? Now we have no recycle center and a temporary golf course owned by private (foreign ) investor in escrow and existing trauma in Kahuku Village of evictions. Kahuku had an ‘affordable’ housing plan years ago that never got built. Where did that money go? Between that project and the 550 residential units not built WITHIN Laie that have been approved for years but not built, the lack of sufficient dormitory housing on campus for students and the illegal Vacation Rentals by Owners (hundreds near Laie), we have a housing shortage that could be solved without destroying the scenic resources of the Moku and its irreplaceable wild coastline for URBAN SPRAWL. What cannot be solved without huge H-4 type money investment for taxpayers, way over the cost of Rail, is that extra traffic on the sole eroding 2 lane Kamehameha Highway that Turtle Bay Expansion and Envision Laie alone cause. Double the population. Add to that the expected increase in tourists to 7,500,000 (10,500 a day out here in Ko’olauLoa) and the thousands of already zoned vacant residential lands within the Moku. Do the math!


Hau’ula kupuna Marvin Iseke: ” It was a waste of time. There was no open mike. This was no town hall meeting; it was his TV show. The Mayor was hiding behind his directors. The mayor talked about things we don’t need to hear and ran away from the important things we wanted to talk about.”


An observer from Kauai said: ” You guys are too nice.”

Ko’olau Loa residents in good faith took the time to attend the Mayor’s Town Hall Meeting to participate and engage in a thoughtful dialogue. They wanted meaty civic participation with the Mayor and offered suggestions. What they received was the Mayor’s dog and pony show that provided HIM two hours of free TV air time for HIS perpetual campaign trail.



Ko’olauloa Neighborhood Board #28 Faces Another Controversy

The Ko’olauloa Neighborhood Board #28 is facing yet another controversy today. Residents are questioning the format of today’s agenda. The Ko’olauloa Neighborhood Board #28 has 11 seats with 7 members having close ties to the Envision Laie Team.  Mayor Mufi Hannemann and Acting-Mayor Kirk Caldwell inserted “Envision Laie” into the Ko’olauloa Sustainable Communities Plan (KSCP) amidst protests from members of the KSCP Advisory Committee.

There are talks of forming a new independent organization as many feel the Ko’olauloa Neighborhood Board #28 does not represent the overall public interest of the region.

For today’s meeting, one standard agenda is deletedPUBLIC INPUT/COMMUNITY ANNOUNCEMENTS (2 Minute Limit per Speaker). This deletion of PUBLIC INPUT has raised past infractions of this board.


Koolauloa Neighborhood Board No. 28

Printable Version (copy and paste into browser)






 6:00 P.M. to 8:00 P.M.



I.              CALL TO ORDER – Chair Verla Moore




V.         TREASURER’S REPORT – Larry Nihipali

VI.        GOVERNMENT REPORTS Three (3) Minute Limit per Speaker

A.    Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s Representative – Justin Gruenstein

B.    Council Chair Ernie Martin and/or Representative – Chair Martin or Mike Sakata

C.    State Legislators

VII.       NEW BUSINESS 10 Minute Limit per Speaker

A.    Presentation by La`ie Community Association (LCA) Seeking Board Support for Envision La`ie and Ko`olauloa Sustainable Communities Plan – Pane Meatoga, Jr., LCA President


A.    Board Recess in December 2013

B.    Next Meeting scheduled for Thursday, January 9, 2014, 6:00 p.m. at the Hau`ula Civic Center, 54-010 Kukuna Road.

C.    `Olelo Broadcasting – The regular Board meetings air on the 4th Friday at 9:00 p.m. on Channel 49, and on the 2nd and 4th Sunday at 12:00 noon on Channel 54.  



cp3 Many feel it’s presumptuous for Pane Meatoga, President of the Laie Community Association to speak for the whole region of Ko’olauloa.

It’s Laie versus the whole region at this point. The surrounding communities and neighborhood boards want “Envision Ko’olauloa“,  not myopic “Envision Laie”.


Honolulu Mayor’s Disjointed Leadership Could Render Kahuku Golf Course Into Oblivion

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/choon-james/honolulu-mayors-disjointed-leadership_b_4113950.html  Posted: 10/17/2013 12:15 pm


                           Oahu’s Kahuku Municipal Golf Course Could Disappear


It’s Oahu’s best kept secret that the Kahuku Municipal Golf Course was never owned by the City and County of Honolulu.

The city leased the pristine grounds that included sandy beach frontage, sand dunes, and plantation-era graveyards as a ‘municipal’ golf course. Unknown to most, this ‘public’ course has been on a month-to-month lease for many years.

The 122-acre beachfront course opened in 1937 through the sweat and toil of the plantation camp workers, on land owned by the Estate of James Campbell.

There is nothing ostentatious about this nine-hole walking golf course except the setting is peaceful and it provides inexpensive recreation for locals of all ages. Users enjoy it without much ado or fancy expectations from the City and County. As Oahu continues to grow, the need for such open space will become more acute, not less.

When the Campbell Estate dissolved its 107-year-old Trust and conducted a fire sale of its assets, this ‘municipal’ golf course was a part of a private bulk purchase by Continental Pacific, LLC in 2006. Continental Pacific, LLC (CP) focuses on acquiring large tracts of real estate and reselling them for profit.

Although a few local activists had raised concerns about losing the ‘public’ course at that time, neither Councilman Donovan Dela Cruz nor Mayor Mufi Hannemann seized the opportunity to ensure that this ‘public’ golf course remained in public hands.


Acquiring the historic Kahuku Golf Course and the Plantation Camp Village would have been the right direction to take.

The city has a history of land-banking property for future parks and saving historical plantation camps to avoid massive social disruptions and homelessness. Also, this iconic region is a golden goose for Oahu’s tourism industry. There are compelling reasons to preserve the open space and rural charm of this region.

The 2008 financial crisis created a severe downturn on the economy that dampened many real estate ventures. There was a lull in flipping real estate for profits.

Having missed the first wave sale from Campbell Estate in 2006, the city could have stepped up to acquire the Kahuku Golf Course when Continental Pacific, LLC predictably listed the Kahuku Golf Course for $10 Million in 2011.

Continental Pacific, LLC had no buyers then.

It listed again at $11,495,000 on Oct. 15, 2012 offering financing terms with “Cash, Open, Private Mortgage, or Seller Financing.”

It was unfortunate that city hall again failed to capitalize on this subsequent window of opportunity to put in Golf Course in public hands. It was not that the City Council Chair Ernie Martin didn’t try.

In April 2012, Honolulu City Council Chair Ernie Martin, Budget Chair Ann Kobayashi, and the Council unanimously adopted and funded Resolution 12-089 — urging the Mayor to initiate the acquisition of the land beneath Kahuku Golf Course.

Then-Mayor Peter Carlisle and current Mayor Kirk Caldwell both declined to cooperate with the City Council.

In September 2013, the public learned that CP was negotiating a purchase with a Chinese investor for the Kahuku Golf Course.

City Councilman Ernie Martin explained that the mayors considered the situation “a private matter that the county should not get involved in.”

The public submitted petitions to preserve the course to Mayor Kirk Caldwell with no success.

On Oct. 10, 2013, Mayor Caldwell’s representative to the Ko’olauloa Neighborhood Board — Justin Gruenstein, former campaign chair for ‘Hannemann for Congress’ — tried to explain Caldwell’s non-performance. Gruenstein attempted to soft-sell that it would be too expensive to own the course and bring the golf course up to city standards. The city had no money.

Thus, acquisition of the $11 million 122-acre beachfront golf course that has been in public domain since 1937 was off the table! Gruenstein stated the approved funds would revert to the City General Fund.

The public’s response to Gruenstein’s excuse was “baloney.” The city could land bank. The city owned many properties that were not maintained nor fixed up to city standards.

It’s outrageous to see Mayor Caldwell’s arbitrary responses towards issues with great consequences.

On one hand, Mayor Caldwell insists that the city has no funds to upgrade the Kahuku Golf Course upon acquisition and Continental Pacific is a ‘private property owner’ he should not involve the city with.

On the other hand, this same mayor is threatening, including eminent domain abuse, the owners of a small privately-owned lot of 20, 300 sq. ft. in Hau’ula, just ten minutes south of the precarious golf course to build his pet $13 million fire station relocation project.

Additionally, next to the golf course sits the Kahuku Plantation Camp, also acquired by CP, that is facing massive evictions. Generations of plantation workers and their posterity are facing controversial evictions.

The City Council adopted and funded Resolution 12-90 to prevent this massive social disruption and homelessness in this 71-home compound. But again, Mayor Kirk Caldwell refused to collaborate with the council by fiddling the same arbitrary tune of respecting Continental Pacific as private property owners.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s constituents tend to conclude that his non-performance could be due to the fact that the attorney — Lex Smith who is representing Continental Pacific, LLC – was also his mayoral campaign committee chairman in 2012. The mayor denied any influence.

It’s tough to figure out Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s logic and his fiscal priorities. Honolulu deserves fact-and-merit-based collaboration with its citizenry in order to ensure that everybody wins.

It would be a travesty for Oahu if politics will render the Kahuku Municipal Golf Course into oblivion.

The mayor can be contacted at 808 768-4141 or mayor@honolulu.gov.