Civil Beat’s recent editorial (“Lawmakers, Please Give the State Land Commission Some Teeth,” Oct. 1, 2015) was wrong to imply that the recent court case involving Haseko’s Hoakalei Resort was about planning or zoning. As Anita Hofschneider’s article correctly stated, there is no condition requiring the building of a marina.

The recent court case involved contractual agreements between a developer and homebuyers. The jury returned a verdict finding that Haseko had not misrepresented any fact in selling homes to Ocean Pointe and Hoakalei residents.  The court case does not affect our proposal to complete the recreational lagoon or Haseko’s efforts to realize our decades-long vision of Hoakalei as a mixed-use waterfront recreational destination for all to enjoy.

Haseko’s intention was to build a marina. For more than 20 years, we worked to obtain the necessary permissions from government to do so, and spent tens of millions of dollars to construct the basin and $32 million to acquire and install granite armor stone for the marina. But it was never a promise or guarantee because no private company has the authority to force decisions on governmental agencies.

Anita's story on Wai Kai Lagoon, located next to Onehula Park in Ewa Beach. 29 sept 2015. photograph Cory Lum/Civil Beat

The Wai Kai Lagoon next to Onehula Park in Ewa Beach.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

After years of legal challenges, it became clear that time was going to be a factor as to whether we would be able to complete the marina. So we began looking for an alternative that could be of at least comparable value of the marina for not only our company but also our homeowners. Cost was not a factor; in fact, the lagoon is expected to cost more to complete than the marina (see Final EIS, which was published in November 2014).

Your editorial asserts that area homeowners suffered reduced home value because of Haseko’s decision to build a lagoon rather than a marina. This is simply not true.  Despite the plaintiffs’ claims, an analysis by real estate appraisal firm The Hallstrom Group compared resale prices before and after the marina/lagoon change was announced, and showed otherwise.

The Hallstrom Group study proved that the value of homes in Haseko’s Ocean Pointe and Hoakalei developments increased by a slightly higher percentage rate than the homes in ‘Ewa-by-Gentry, the ‘Ewa Plain and O‘ahu overall. So there has been no loss in property value.

The fact is that this transformation into a recreational lagoon can be used by more people than the marina.  Under the old plan, the proposed marina channel entrance would have disrupted lateral shoreline access. With the lagoon plan, the lateral shoreline access remains continuous and includes pathways that connect the two public beach parks next to Hoakalei, specifically One‘ula Beach Park and White Plains Beach, to additional pathways that run around the lagoon, up to the proposed public swimming cove and through the planned commercial districts.

The lagoon will offer recreational opportunities including swimming at the planned public cove, sunbathing and picnicking , kayaking, canoeing and paddleboarding, as well as additional pathways for walking, jogging and biking.  The recreational lagoon has received much community support, as demonstrated by the hundreds of letters submitted to the Planning Commission and to the City Council in support of our zone change application. Hundreds of letters supporting the addition of the lagoon option were also submitted previously as part of the City Council’s update to the ‘Ewa Development Plan in 2013.

Please note that while Haseko firmly believes utilizing the basin as a recreational lagoon provides benefits to a much larger number of people than a marina, we continue to keep all marina-related permits alive and in full-compliance with government regulations. We are not taking any action that would prevent someone else in the future from pursuing the governmental permissions required to construct the entrance channel to the ocean and utilize the basin as a marina.

We acknowledge that some homeowners were disappointed with the difficult decision to change from a marina to a recreational lagoon, but we believe it was the right decision as it offers greater benefits for the broader community.  Although some details have changed, Haseko’s vision for Hoakalei Resort has not.

We are actively working to create a vibrant waterfront resort community where area residents, guests and the general public will enjoy welcoming recreational spaces, retail and dining opportunities that don’t exist anywhere else on the island.

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