Monday, July 12, 2010


YOU’D BETTER HURRY ‘CAUSE IT’S GOING FAST: Like the contents of Fibber Mcgee’s closet the Lepe`uli (Larsen’s) Beach Controversy spilled into its first recorded public forum at last Wednesday’s council meeting replete with hidden agendas, denials of racism, land grabs and lawyerly gaffs.

It all began suddenly when Mayor Bernard Carvalho conspired with the owner that’s been blocking access to the portion of the alaloa- a Hawaiian language word meaning “highway, main road, belt road around an island, along road” not the name of a trail itself as the newspaper reported- where it runs above the beach at Lepe`uli.

In seeking to throw a monkey wrench in owner Waioli Corporation’s lessee Bruce Laymon’s plans to cut off access to the alaloa and limit access to the beach Carvalho and Waioli Attorney Don Wilson sprung a “new access” easement agreement on the council just before the long July 4th/furlough Friday, four-day weekend and then tried to ram it though the council the following Wednesday.

The battle has finally gotten traction at the state level with a Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) investigation of the whole matter including bogus claims by another Waioli attorney Lorna Nishimitsu and Laymon himself, first as to whether there is even a traditional trail portion from Anahola to Kilauea and later as to it’s location (see previous reports linked above).

But it became obvious that Waioli was trying to “donate” an easement via a trail that isn’t the official but overgrown county owned access at the south end of the beach but is right next to it, in order to convince the DLNR that there is access to the beach so it’s ok to block that portion of the alaloa, which has been in use “since time immemorial” according to everyone not associated with either Waioli or Laymon and his ranching operation.

The fear that the DLNR will soon find that the alaloa is a “prescriptive use” access has apparently struck so much fear in Waioli that they replaced Nishimitsu with Wilson, whose stammering, often contradictory and occasionally high pitched testimony before the council only served to make matters worse for Waioli

Wilson tried at times to deny the existence of the alaloa and later to perpetuate the confusion as to where it was before admitting under questioning by Councilpersons Tim Bynum and Lani Kawahara that yes, the alaloa did exist but echoing Laymon’s desire to stop access due to what’s been characterized as “nude campers leaving trash” at the beach- a characterization that has been taken by many to mean “haoles” especially after a slew of reports of rants by Laymon using that term pejoratively .

This is not the first attack on the alaloa. In the 90’s developer of Kealia Kai Tom McCloskey, whose Moloa`a Bay Ranch encompasses another portion of the trail just north of Moloa`a lost his battle to relocate the trail to the rocks below and the alaloa became a candidate for preservation by the state Na Ala Hele Commission before the state withdrew support and funding for the group and it fell apart.

At first Wilson tried to give the impression that the offer might go away if it wasn’t accepted by the council last Wednesday although later, after a break, he admitted that wasn’t the case.

Coincidentally the last time we remember anyone trying to rush through a Trojan Horse gift like this- one with a one day “take it now or lose it” rider- was McCloskey’s gift of the area above the area of the bike path north of Kealia which would have become a private beach with limited access had the deed been accepted "as is" the day it was introduced and set for fast tracking by then Mayor Maryanne Kusaka and then Councilperson Bryan Baptiste.

Then, as on Wednesday, the matter was deferred after some on the council smelled a rat.

Those records left by Na Ala Hele were apparently a taking off point Bynum and Kawahara used to show where the trail runs and the prior attempts to preserve it.

But what stood out was this bizarre argument by Laymon and Wilson along with one of Laymon’s employees that the gently sloping alaloa with it’s many easy side trials to the beach would somehow encourage the “trash” in the area, presumably left by these so-called naked campers even though much of the trash Laymon cleaned up in a beach clean up recently had been there for many decades.

The thinly veiled race card hung over the room as did Laymon’s apparent homophobic rage over clothing optional nature of the secluded beach- where his employees have been accused by witnesses of using binoculars to ogle naked women- as he ranted in code about maintaining access for “local people” while keeping others out, intimating that somehow local people including kupuna could and would navigate the steep new access while others would not.

But, as revered kupuna Richard and Linda Sproat’s daughter, attorney and UH Professor of Hawaiian Studies Kapua Sproat told the council the alaloa is legally protected under state laws as a prescriptive access for all that’s been in continual use as long as anyone can remember.

The DLNR investigation was initiated after the Office of Hawaiian Affairs responded to citizen’s complaints over Laymon’s Conservation District Area Use permit, especially complaints by the Kaua`i Group of the Sierra Club which has been trying to protect the alaloa segment for more than a decade as we’ve detailed during the past year.

What Waioli is doing backing Laymon in this is the one of the more baffling things about the whole matter. You would think they’d take advantage of the terroristic threatening he’s been accused of along with his historic utter disregard for grubbing and grading laws to try to revoke his lease and give it to someone sensitive to the community’s concerns.

Laymon still doesn’t get it. He tried to tell a story complaining that recently he was ready to just illegally bulldoze the old overgrown county owned access without a permit in a sensitive special management area and conservation district but was “threatened” with being reported to the authorities by those trying to preserve the area to somehow say he is being prevented from “helping”.

For the record Laymon denied being “a racist”

The area at Lepe`uli contains not just documented burials but documented evidence of a “ancient” Hawaiian village which have been disturbed by his ranching and fencing operations without a cultural study of the area.

Wilson wondered aloud why the alaloa is even part of the discussion complaining that this is “going on and on and on” for Waioli. But didn’t seem to notice the irony that it’s been their actions in allowing Laymon to garner community enmity by blocking access and perpetuating the race-baiting conflicts that has made put the issue before the council.

Waioli Corp used to have a good name in the community through it’s historic preservation mission and actions. Now that has seemingly gone out the window due to the blind spot they have for Laymon and Lepe`uli and the disregard for the historic and cultural nature of the alaloa and Lepe`uli in general.

If they had decided to say “ok- we’ll move our fence back and the pubic can have the alaloa and beach access- it would have cost them less in blood and treasure than this fight which now may not end for the community until the whole area becomes an historic and cultural preserve.

The question remains for Laymon and Waioli Corp– are “illegal activities” at Larson’s beach such as littering enough to block access? Even if so is the answer blocking access or enforcing the law? And if so, should we block access to all beaches where litter is found?

The public awaits answers to those questions and more as the council awaits the DLNR report and will take up the matter again on August 23.

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