Supporters of the old Save Sandy Beach Initiative have been able to celebrate their successful movement for over 25 years now.

This summer, however, East Oahu residents face an all-too-similar challenge: The Ka Iwi Coast’s last developable mauka lands are up for sale, and help is needed to purchase the land for perpetual preservation.

Among a coalition of community volunteers involved in the campaign is a youth committee. While its members are too young to remember Save Sandy Beach, they are mindful of how fortunate they are to still be enjoying its success. The group that has coined itself “Youth for Ka Iwi” intends on adding to the legacy of its predecessors by leading a social media and grassroots campaign to preserve the ancient lands in a truly 21st century fashion.

Ka Iwi beach

The Ka Iwi Coast would be studied and protected in perpetuity, according to the $4 million purchase plan.

Courtesy of Greg Knudsen

The $4 million venture has already accrued a majority of its financial support, donations from the City and County of Honolulu and state Department of Land & Natural Resources totaling $3.5 million. Support from individuals has brought the campaign even farther, leaving about $250,000 to be raised by Aug. 30 to ensure that stewardship of the land will be exercised through a partnership led by the community group Livable Hawaii Kai Hui.

Deed restrictions and a conservation easement over the properties from the city and DLNR respectively will serve to maintain the quintessential Hawaiian beauty of the nearly unmarred and unobstructed Ka Iwi coast for centuries to come.

Nearly three decades ago, Save Sandy Beach volunteer events were filled with men and women of all ages, eager to take a stand to protect a natural treasure from commercialization. Many of those same community activists are currently spearheading the new crowdsourcing venture to buy the land. 

However, a new generation of citizens must also realize its civic duty, and that is the mission of Youth for Ka Iwi. Strides have been made in handling the preservation of the shoreline and other undeveloped parcels in East Oahu, but without support from younger generations, any efforts to maintain the land will be short-lived.

Can you imagine making it all the way up Koko Crater Stairs and looking around, only to find more cookie-cutter developments not just dotting, but covering the once lush, natural vista?

Youth for Ka Iwi hopes to represent in the near future just a small portion of a thriving youth leadership and communications platform within the community, consistently demonstrating that a healthy spirit of community service, environmental stewardship, and concern for the future is alive and close at heart for the young people of Hawaii Kai.

By saving these last parcels of land, the community will have successfully secured the expansive scenic views from Kawaihoa (Portlock) to Waimanalo, as well as the many Hawaiian cultural sites between. The remnants of an ancient fishing village remain as priceless markers of the coast’s historical progression, lying within walking distance of an ongoing fishing industry.

Many volunteers for the Ka Iwi Coast campaign are also interested in preserving the atmosphere of those treasured surf spots already fought for in decades past. When you’re riding a wave toward the coast, do you want to lay your eyes on the magnificent mauka lands or dozens of rectangular obstructions? And don’t forget all the added traffic. While there is no coast without an ocean, there is also no coast without a coast, and beach-lovers are encouraged to join the cause.

Economically, is a large development even a good idea in the first place? A large complex or vacation resort would lower the value the Ka Iwi Coast has for ecotourism. It would get rid of the last beautifully undeveloped acres beloved by more visitors and locals than could ever even visit a future complex.

Can you imagine making it all the way up Koko Crater Stairs and looking around, only to find more cookie-cutter developments not just dotting, but covering the once lush, natural vista? The better long-term investment in the area is to keep it as is, and eliminate the risk of any future developments. People might grow tired of what is built there. They’ll never grow tired of natural Hawaii.

Doesn’t it make sense now, after so much has already been built up and over, to preserve what little is left? When the members of Youth for Ka Iwi grow up and everywhere in town looks different, they hope they’ll at least always have the coast. They believe everybody deserves to see the same Hanauma Bay, the same Koko Crater, the same Hālona Blowhole, the same Sandy Beach and Alan Davis Beach — the same scenic shoreline — and of course the same clean mountains.

All the youths involved with this community effort want to save the coast so that everybody can have acres of evidence with which to teach future generations about what it means to stand up for something; what it means to defend true paradise.

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About the Authors

  • Dylan Ramos
    Dylan Ramos is a Kaiser High School class of 2014 graduate and current student at Loyola Marymount University. He works remotely with Livable Hawaii Kai Hui as he studies political science, international relations, history, and journalism in Los Angeles.
  • Emerson Goo
    Emerson Goo is an incoming 11th grade student at Kaiser High School. He is co-editor in chief of the Cougar Connection school newspaper.
  • Kendrick Chang
    Kendrick Chang is a sophomore at the George Washington University in Washington, D.C. and a graduate of Kaiser High School. At the GWU, Kendrick is a Political Communication major in the School of Media & Public Affairs and Vice President of the Hawaii Club. He was Youth Coordinator for the Save Ka Iwi Mauka fundraising campaign during the summer 2015 months. He is also a Youth Advisor for the Livable Hawaii Kai Hui and a member of the Save Ka Iwi Coalition and the Hawaii Kai Lions Club.