The Waianae Neighborhood Board isn’t buying into the idea of a proposed subdivision near Pokai Bay.
Board members voiced their opposition to developers during a presentation in November and restated their views at a meeting last week. Among their concerns are the demand on sewage service, increased traffic on already congested roads and more homes that residents probably can’t afford.
The CJ Group, a local branch of a Chinese corporation, wants to put 21 single-family homes on a 3-acre lot at 85-29 Lualualei Homestead Road. Its representatives told the board in November that the price range would be for “middle-income families,” according to board minutes.
“We aren’t aiming for high-price housing,” CJ Group Branch Manager Zoe Zhang told Civil Beat. “It’s going to be market price.”
Still, the subdivision proposal is generating “tremendous disappointment and frustration,” said Wilson Koike, a neighborhood board member, who called it the product of “another outside developer ignorant to the history of the area.”
Property plans show five types of homes ranging from 1,558 square feet to 1,750 square feet with three or four bedrooms. None of the units has a set price yet. Zhang said that price estimates can’t be made until construction is underway.
The CJ Group released the draft in July. A public comment period is open until Aug. 22.
How To Comment
Comments on the draft environmental assessment for the proposed subdivision may be submitted to the Department of Planning and Permitting at email@example.com. You can copy the developer, Miner Zhang, at firstname.lastname@example.org and the architectural consultant, Allen Ng, at email@example.com.
According to the environmental assessment, the Honolulu Department of Planning and Permitting city department found no adverse environmental effects.
Koike, who chairs the boards housing and development committee, said some residents are concerned with flooding in the area. The EA states that homes more prone to damage from storm waves would be built on stilts and walls.
Crews have already begun removing brush and trees from the property, even though CJ Group must obtain more permits before breaking ground. A special use permit is required because of the property’s proximity to the shore. The subdivision would also require extension of electric and sewer lines to the property.
Construction is expected to begin in the summer of 2018 and wrap up in 2019, according to the environmental assessment.
The Waianae Sustainable Communities plan that the City Council approved in 2011 generally discourages development makai of Farrington Highway in Waianae.
“We’re willing to concede that housing is an issue in Waianae,” Koike said, adding the board isn’t opposed to all developments. He said the area would be perfect for senior housing or a medium-density development, as opposed to more single-family lots.
The median home values in the areas near Pokai Bay range from $255,000 to $335,000. Islandwide, the median price of a home hit a record high of $795,000 in June.
Meanwhile, the area just north of the proposed development has one of the highest poverty rates on the island at 44 percent, according to U.S. Census tract data.
This development, called Aloha Hale Pokai Bay, is among several that could be coming to the Waianae Coast soon. Makaha La, a 30-home development of houses with 2,250 square feet of interior space each, may be built on a currently undisclosed location in Makaha Valley.
And developer Stanford Carr has two projects planned for the same valley: a 120-home project on 26 acres near the back of the valley and a $300 million golf resort on the site of the now-abandoned Makaha Resort.
A 20-home subdivision was previously proposed for the parcel on Lualualei Homestead Road in 2015, but the Department of Planning and Permitting rejected a sewer application for the project.
Residents questioned the developer’s representatives at the November meeting regarding the area’s sewer capacity, but their answers weren’t clear. They said the project “received an increase on the number of units on the sewer line after further calculations,” according to neighborhood board minutes.
The previous owners of the vacant lot were cited for violations including litter, construction of an unpermitted stage and other structures, as well as allowing church services, concerts and other events on the site without a conditional use permit.
The Ark of Safety Christian Fellowship previously leased the lot and the building in front of it on Farrington Highway, but it has since moved to the Waianae Mall.
The CJ Group has a parent company in China that has been doing business there for 18 years, Zhang said. The company opened its Hawaii branch in 2014 and also has a branch in Australia.
The CJ Group acquired the 3-acre parcel of land near Pokai Bay early last year for $1.5 million, according to property records. Last August, the company also leased office space from the Roman Catholic Church of Hawaii in Century Square on Bishop street for $60,000.
The Lualualei development would be the company’s first project in Hawaii. The CJ Group had eyed other lots for development, but settled on the Waianae parcel because “this property just seemed better for our way of doing things,” Zhang said.
“We don’t want to build a house on a cliff,” she said. “The property seemed more developable.”
Read the CJ Group’s Draft Environmental Assessment below.
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Blaze Lovell is a reporter for Civil Beat and a graduate of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He was born and raised on Oahu. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @blaze_lovell