This newsletter is to inform Windward Neighborhood Board members of Hui Maunawili-Kawainui’s efforts to preserve Maunawili Valley and protect it as a public resource for the use and enjoyment of all. We are supporting efforts by The Trust for Public Land to purchase over 900 acres of important agricultural and conservation land which HRT Realty, LLC proposes to subdivide into private estates.

The State Legislature is showing support for our position which is based on existing laws, zoning, government permits, and traditions. Senate Concurrent Resolution 95 SD1 has cleared the Senate; crossed over to the House and was passed by the House Committee on Water & Land on April 13, with the House Finance Committee yet to go.
See resolution and its status here.

We are now reaching out to Windward Neighborhood Boards to support us in our efforts.

Mahalo for your consideration.

A Vision for Maunawili:
Support the Purchase, Preservation & Restoration of Agricultural and Conservation Lands

Our goal is for Maunawili to restore its vital and traditional role in the Kailua ahupua‘a as a place of free-flowing water, abundant agriculture, and rich cultural resources in Windward O‘ahu. We envision a voluntary conservation sale in partnership with government and community as a win-win solution for all involved, including the landowner HRT/Weinberg.

Aloha Friends and Neighbors,

Hui Maunawili Kawainui urges you to help save more than 900 acres of prime agricultural and conservation land in Maunawili from subdivision into gentleman’s estates. We need your help in both circulating these materials and in submitting testimony that supports the resolution now circulating at the legislature. The resolutions  acknowledge the current community-driven effort to purchase and protect over 900 acres in Maunawili, including the “Queen’s Retreat” where Lili‘uokalani took respite and wrote the song “Aloha ‘Oe”, significant watershed, fertile agricultural lands, numerous cultural sites, and, together with Kawainui marsh, the most intact traditional landscape in the Kailua ahupua‘a. This land is not currently being farmed, but is rich with Hanalei soil and fed all of Kailua and beyond in ancient times. This land protection effort would significantly increase local food production which would benefit the entire State.

Department of Land and Natural Resources, Department of Agriculture, The Trust for Public Land, and Hui Maunawili-Kawainui (a coalition of community groups and residents), and the private landowner are making progress toward a voluntary purchase and sale.  The Trust for Public Land and Hui Maunawili-Kawainui envision the land being owned by government agencies, and managed in true partnership with the local community, so that the land may resume its vital traditional role in the Kailua ahupua’a as a place of free-flowing fresh water, abundant agriculture, and protected cultural sites cared for by the community. A resolution supporting this decades-long effort would encourage all parties involved to continue working together to protect the land for the public’s benefit.

Attached, you will find an update on what the Hui has been up to and where things now stand as well as a map of the Maunawili lands, a 1929 painting showing Maunawili’s agricultural potential, and a recent photo of restored Maunawili lo’i kalo.

Recent photo of lo‘i at Ho‘okua‘aina, in Maunawili.

The Current Situation

March 2018

HRT Realty, LLC, part of the real estate arm of The Harry & Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, Inc., owns more than 1,000 acres of predominantly agriculturally-zoned property in Maunawili Valley in the ahupua‘a of Kailua. HRT/Weinberg land holdings make up a significant part of the Maunawili-Kawainui watershed and cultural kīpuka, one of the largest intact cultural and natural landscapes on O‘ahu.

HRT/Weinberg’s privately-owned Maunawili lands are exceptionally rich in resources and importance to the health and well-being of Hawai‘i, including:

  • Designated critical watershed and wetlands containing many streams and springs, which feed Kawainui and the ahupua‘a of Kailua. 56 acres of Weinberg’s lands are in the Special Management Area (SMA);
  • 50% of the land in Kailua zoned Agriculture including 167 acres of Hanalei Series soil, the richest and most fertile soil in Hawai‘i;
  • Nutrient-rich soil, abundant water, and access to markets, with the potential to significantly improve the State’s future food security and sustainability;
  • Endangered species including Hawaiian damselflies, the Hawaiian hoary bat, O‘ahu ‘Elepaio, the Newell’s shearwater, Hawaiian stilt, Hawaiian gallinule, Hawaiian coot and Hawaiian duck and the threatened Newell’s shearwater;
  • Numerous significant ancient and historic sites; and historic roads and trails that rightly belong in the public domain.
TMK of Maunawili, showing Weinberg holdings.

Proposed subdivision of over 1,000 acres

HRT/Weinberg has submitted four applications to the City Department of Planning and Permitting (DPP) to subdivide more than 1,000 acres of its Maunawili landholdings zoned Agriculture-2 and Preservation. The applications to create agricultural subdivisions have been submitted individually, are designed to bypass environmental review and public notice, and are aimed at the very wealthy whose use will be primarily residential (“gentlemen estates”). All four applications have been deferred pending receipt of additional information requested by DPP, Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) and the Department of Agriculture (DOA) and compliance with the Conditional Use Permit (CUP) that governs the properties.1 Expiration dates on subdivision applications range from May –August 2018.

* Conditional Use Permit No. 85/CUP-20 allows the owner of TMK 4-2-8:1 and 5 and 4-2-9:1 to operate golf courses subject to numerous conditions including providing access to Maunawili Falls and Olomana trails. HRT/Weinberg has appealed a Dec. 2016 DPP Decision on this matter to the Zoning Board of Appeals, adding further complexity and delay to subdivision review and decision making.

56 acres of the land covered by the four subdivision applications is within the SMA; to date DPP has not required that HRT/Weinberg obtain an SMA permit. In addition, recent Hawai‘i Supreme Court decisions require that DPP should consider HRT/Weinberg’s four applications as one application, the cumulative impact of which should be evaluated for its combined impact on the historic, natural and cultural resources within the SMA**. Developing these proposed subdivisions will profoundly and negatively impact critical watershed areas and important agricultural lands and, thus, the health and well-being of Maunawili- Kawainui and the entire Kailua ahupua‘a and Windward community.

** Leslie v Board of Appeals, 109 Haw. 384, 126 P.3d 1071 (2006)

Feeding People in the
Kailua Ahupua‘a and Beyond

The State has an obligation under constitutional charter to “conserve and protect agricultural lands, promote diversified agriculture, increase agricultural self-sufficiency and assure the availability of agriculturally suitable lands.”

The Ko‘olaupoko Sustainable Communities Plan (KSCP), which was adopted by the City Council in August 2017 (Section 3.4.), identifies preventing conversion of agricultural lands to non-agricultural uses as a core priority for Ko‘olaupoko. Citing the KSCP, the State DOA has raised a central concern in its comments on the Weinberg subdivision proposals about the potential loss of actual agricultural use of Weinberg’s Maunawili lands without greater protective measures. We agree with the DOA that “an agricultural subdivision is in violation of Section 205-4.5(a), Hawai‘i Revised Statutes, when the primary use of the proposed subdivision is for residential purposes.” (Letter to K. Sokugawa, DPP, from S. Enright, DOA, May 25, 2017)

The primary purpose of the proposed agricultural subdivisions is residential, as indicated by the vague and inadequate agricultural plans that accompanied the proposals. Nothing in the proposals establishes that there will be farming that would assure sustainable, diversified agricultural activity appropriate to the zoning of this area.

Significant deposits of nutrient-rich Hanalei soil combined with natural stream flow confirm the potential for the valley to provide an important base for enhanced local food security through managed and thoughtfully developed food producing farms. Historically, Maunawili was a “breadbasket” for O‘ahu, as evidenced by many irrigated and dryland agricultural terraces, large ‘auwai related to extensive lo‘i, historic maps and photographs, land court cases and other historical documents. With wise stewardship, Maunawili can resume its role as a place of abundant agriculture.

Maunawili,1929 postcard, private collection.

Acquiring Maunawili Lands for the Public Benefit—A Plan for the Future

There is a long history of public interest in protecting lands in Maunawili from private ownership and the threat of development. The 1994 Kawainui Master Plan (KMP) recommends that the State acquire the privately-owned Wetland/Semi-Wetland and upland areas in Maunawili, noting that they are part of the economic, ecological, and cultural resources of Kawainui Marsh, separated only by the highway. Unfortunately, the State to date has yet to secure these Maunawili lands.

The Department of Land and Natural Resources, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, The Trust for Public Land (TPL), and other non-profit organizations have sought to engage the landowner HRT Realty, LLC/Weinberg Foundation in discussions regarding acquiring portions of their Maunawili lands. Until now, Weinberg has been unresponsive to these attempts to acquire their property, and continues to submit applications to subdivide, and presumably sell, these lands for development as “gentlemen estates.”

Negotiations with Weinberg. Currently, Hui Maunawili-Kawainui (a coalition of Kailua cultural and environmental non-profit organizations and residents) is working with TPL in an effort to acquire, through TPL, all six properties owned by HRT/Weinberg in Maunawili, in partnership with government agencies. TPL wants to purchase all six properties in their entirety, and HRT/Weinberg is willing to continue negotiations to sell five of the six properties in their entirety, and the conservation-zoned portion of the sixth property. Weinberg wants to retain the golf course (agriculture-zoned) portion of the sixth property. Weinberg is currently reviewing a Letter of Intent from TPL to purchase five of the six properties in their entirety, and the conservation-zoned portion of the sixth property. The Hui and TPL’s shared goal is to secure the health of Maunawili. Hui Maunawili-Kawainui includes community and cultural leaders such as Oz Stender, Chuck “Doc” Burrows, kumu hula Mapuana de Silva and Kihei de Silva, Dean Wilhelm, and organizations including ‘Aha Hui Mālama i ka Lōkahi, the Kailua Hawaiian Civic Club, Hālau Mōhala ‘Ilima, Hika‘alani, Ho‘okua‘āina, and Kailua Historical Society.

Securing Natural Resources and the Potential for Food Production in Kailua

The Trust for Public Land’s proposed acquisition of Weinberg’s Maunawili lands for eventual ownership and stewardship by the State in partnership with qualified community organizations will protect the biological, agricultural, and cultural resources of the Maunawili-Kawainui Watershed. Maunawili can help increase local food production and food sustainability for the State. We’ve seen these proposals for agricultural subdivisions too often in recent years. They all result in the same outcome: the loss of lands that can stem our slide into food dependency on other states and countries. We want to return to the wise stewardship of resources that Hawai’i once enjoyed for centuries before western contact.

Our community urges HRT/Weinberg to work quickly with The Trust for Public Land to put these important lands in public ownership, a trust, conservation easement, dedication, and/or other mechanism for their permanent protection and to promote their long-term sustainable use and the food security goals of Hawai‘i nei.

We envision a voluntary conservation sale in partnership with government and community as a win-win solution for all involved, including HRT/Weinberg. Our goal is for Maunawili to restore its vital and traditional role in the Kailua ahupua‘a as a place of free-flowing water, abundant agriculture, and rich cultural resources in Windward O‘ahu.

Community Partners

The Association of Hawaiian Civic Clubs has endorsed efforts to acquire and preserve Maunawili.

The Kailua Neighborhood Board opposes agricultural subdivisions in Maunawili as proposed by HRT/Weinberg. (KNB Minutes, June 1, 2017, Motions 2,3, and 4 adopted by unanimous consent.)

The Department of Land and Natural Resources has expressed a strong interest in acquiring HRT/Weinberg’s lands for the common good and to work together with other government agencies and community groups to protect and maintain natural and cultural resources including carefully managed access to historic trails and cultural sites.

The Department of Agriculture, following acquisition, is poised to partner with community groups and farmers engaged in sustainable environmental and agricultural activities to pursue a new model of cooperation to assure actual farming of these lands.

A growing network of Windward-based organizations and supporters have endorsed Hui Maunawili- Kawainui’s initiative, assisted by The Trust for Public Land, to acquire these lands for the long-term benefit of the people of Hawai‘i. Windward legislators from Waimanalo to the North Shore have unanimously supported TPL’s efforts to acquire HRT/Weinberg’s lands but have delayed speaking out while negotiations are ongoing.

Hui Maunawili-Kawainui

Founding Board Members

Beth Anderson / Hui Kawainui-Kailua Ka Wai Ola

Paul Brennan / Kailua Historical Society

Chuck Burrows / Hui Kawainui-Kailua Ka Wai Ola

Laurie Carlson / Maunawili resident

Kīhei de Silva / Hālau Mōhala ‘Ilima, Hika‘alani, Kailua Hawaiian Civic Club

Māpuana de Silva / Hālau Mōhala ‘Ilima, Hika‘alani, Kailua Hawaiian Civic Club

Lehuakona Isaacs / Ahahui Malama i ka Lokahi

Mei Ling Isaacs / Ahahui Malama i ka Lokahi

Herb Lee / Pacific American Foundation, Hui Kawainui-Kailua Ka Wai Ola

Melody Kapilialoha (Pili) MacKenzie / Hika‘alani

Alan Murakami / Maunawili resident

Barbara Pope / Maunawili resident

Deborah Pope / Kailua resident with multi-generational ties to Maunawili

Oz Stender / Maunawili resident

Mark Paikuli Stride / Luluku Farmers Association, Aloha ‘Āina Health and Learning Center

Dean Wilhelm / Ho‘okua‘āina at Kapalai Farms

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Our mailing address is:
Hui Maunawili Kawainui

1020 Maunawili Loop

Kailua, HI 96734-4621