Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell needs a little voters’ approval booster — currently at 28% in a Civil Beat poll —  and maybe this will help.

Ko Olina Resort and the Ko Olina Community Association tossed in the towel and gave up the fight to close off  its lagoons to the general public and reserve them for high-paying guests who will be coming in under Oahu’s new opening to tourists from the mainland and the Pacific.

The resort and its condo residents really didn’t have a good legal leg to stand on, although it tried to bluff its way by saying it was just trying to protect local people’s health by not exposing them to visitors. Everyone got a good laugh over that one. What the resort really was saying was that people paying $1,000+ a night would not want to share the lagoon beaches and waters with hollering local kids, tattooed people with coolers and generally those not of their class.

We made a big mistake when Ko Olina was permitted and only had to surrender a small number of public parking spaces. Those spaces became ever more valuable as more condos were built and the Disney hotel moved in alongside Four Seasons. The developers wanted to skirt around our open-access-to-coastlines traditions and laws. Ko Olina is not within walking distance of any residential area, so limiting parking was limiting local access.

Its big mistake was recently closing parking areas, allegedly to prevent any Covid transference. That was a laugher from the get-go. It would be a presumption that only the maids, bartenders, waitresses, guards and grounds people working there could withstand exposure. Not we of the other hoi polloi.

The bluff was just making local people mad as hell and not likely to take it. Things like this can turn nasty in an eye-blink.

So Ko Olina announced today that the parking ban is off. Here’s what’s now open:

  • Lagoon 1 at 50% capacity: 20 public parking stalls available.
  • Lagoon 2 at 100% capacity or 20 public parking stalls available.
  • Lagoon 3 at 100% capacity or 20 public parking stalls available.
  • Lagoon 4 at 50% capacity or 51 public parking stalls available.

Rack up one for the people. Now about those Waikiki hotel beach-sand refills and groins …



Published by Bob Jones

Journalist since age 19. St. Petersburg Times, Noticias y Viajes in Madrid, Overseas Weekly in Frankfurt and Paris, the Louisville Courier- Journal, the Honolulu Advertiser, KGMB-TV, NBC News foreign correspondent in Africa and Southeast Asia, and MidWeek columnist. LL.B LaSalle University Law. 3 years in the U.S. Air Force. Covered: Biafran War in Nigeria (1968) Vietnam War (1969-73), Iraq in 1991. George Foster Peabody Award for distinguished journalism for reporting in China. 2 Emmys for documentaries. Married to journalist Denby Fawcett; one daughter. Brett Jones, foreign service officer, State Department.

4 replies on “Ko Olina Caves”

  1. Actually, all the public parking had been closed for months. What Ko Olina had more recently announced was that they would also “temporarily” ban locals from three of the four lagoons entirely, which is illegal on its face since state law guarantees public shoreline access to all and Native Hawaiians in particular also enjoy additional customary access and gathering rights. I have no idea how Ko Olina thought it would enforce its nonsense. By calling the cops on Hawaiians over an illegal policy and putting up fences around Disney’s fake Lilo and Stitch Land? That was bound to get ugly fast! They recently opened public parking at one lagoon only and acted like they were doing us all a big favor while illegally keeping the other lots closed and saying they would reserve three lagoons for tourists.
    It’s nice that Ko Olina has now caved and decided to not break the law by banning locals, but it sure seems that the city also caved by not issuing any fines for the illegal closure of all public parking for so long, which an inspector had already cited Ko Olina for, according to news reports.
    Caldwell never made a public peep about any of this. Nor did Ige, even though coastal access is very much a state issue.
    And where were the Waianae Coast’s useless elected representatives while all this was going on? Enjoying VIP access to Ko Olina while their constituents were being illegally kept out? It wouldn’t be surprising.
    This was a total failure of leadership by all concerned, and it should not be forgotten.

  2. Did you hear about Ko Olina shutting down the boat ramps several years ago? Those were the ones used by local fishermen. There was an agreement with the State to provide public access in exchange for allowing Ko Olina to dredge those “wonderful” lagoons.

    The process of dredging generated tons of silt which blanketed nearby coral reefs for a few years. I saw that from the air when I was helping a commercial fisherman spot schools of akule. The water was milky white for a few thousand yards.

    One day Ko Olina decided to shut down the ramps and demolished them. A group of determined fishermen pressed to have them rebuilt. Little help came from the State.

    What the State should have done was declare the lagoons as State land because Ko Olina violated terms of the agreement. And it should have forced Ko Olina to build public boat ramps. Maybe even declare the marina as State property, considering all the damage done to marine life in the vicinity.

    Boat ramps were eventually built. But the restrictions and limited trailer parking makes the whole thing a joke. Our State government doesn’t seem to have the guts to do the right thing in matters like this.

    1. This is from the box of misplaced priorities. Those flagged trucks running around in convoys protesting TMT should be filled with hundreds of people being dropped off at the resorts and load the beaches with aloha.

  3. Can somebody please clean up all the trash along H-1 around Kapolei? Can’t blame that on the tourists.

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