There are all kinds of ways to encroach on public land. Homeless campers do it all the time when they set up their tents in public parks.
But one of the weirdest encroachments I have seen is two gates constructed without proper permits on a public oceanfront walkway at the foot of Diamond Head.
The city says the gates were installed without permission by the owner or owners of oceanside luxury homes fronting the pathway.
One gate is at the beginning of a shoreline pathway at Makalei Beach Park and the other gate where the shoreline pathway ends at Leahi Beach Park.
Someone put up gates that can block shoreline access at Diamond Head without permission from the city. This gate can block the public path at Leahi Beach Park.
Cory Lum/Civil Beat
The gates are open in the day but it is possible to lock them any time.
I like to walk on the shoreline path between the two parks at sunrise. I was baffled when I noticed the gates had been put up where all our lives we have been able to walk freely.
Andrew Pereira, a spokesman for the Mayor’s Office, says: “They were erected by one of three property owners whose properties are next to the ocean walk, or a combination thereof.”
Tom Boyle, a filmmaker who regularly drives down from his Tantalus home to jog in the Diamond Head area, says he was startled by the arrogance of someone installing the gates.
“The homeowners don’t seem to know where their private property ends and public property begins. Nobody is supposed to be able to buy the public beachfront,” says Boyle.
This gate can block the path that leads from Makalei Beach Park to Leahi Beach Park.
Cory Lum/Civil Beat
Nuuanu resident Rosie Sanchez says she taken aback when she saw the gates.
“I just noticed them today, I thought what is this? The gates make you hesitant to walk on the pathway,” she says.
No one is sure if the gates have ever been locked to prevent people from walking along the ocean. Under state law, beach access must be guaranteed.
Pereira says, “We’ve been told, but have not confirmed, that the gates are not being locked, and if they are, only during park closure hours from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.”
I did a column recently on how millionaire real estate investor Jay Shidler donated $511,555 for the specific purpose of beautifying Makalei and Leahi Beach Parks and maintaining each park for a year.
The walkway connects the two newly spruced up parks.
Shidler says he was very surprised to see the gates on the pathway.
“I went through the roof,” he said. “They are so rinky-dink. I don’t know who put them up. They are inappropriate.”
City Department of Planning and Permitting Deputy Director Art Challacombe says he is sending out inspectors to find out who is responsible.
The gates are in the city’s Special Management Area and in the shoreline setback area where permits are required for any type of construction.
Challacombe says in an emailed statement, “The city’s Department of Planning and Permitting has reviewed its files and has found there are no permits for the two gates. DPP will investigate to determine who owns the property where the gates are located and will determine the appropriate enforcement action.”
Curtis Lum, spokesman for DPP, says that whoever built the gates also installed them without a building permit.
Park benefactor Shidler says it is his understanding that the gates will be coming down soon.
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Denby Fawcett is a longtime Hawaii television and newspaper journalist, who grew up in Honolulu. Her book, Secrets of Diamond Head: A History and Trail Guide is available on Amazon. Opinions are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Civil Beat's views.