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Coalition hopes to acquire vacant lot at Honolua Bay shoreline

By Staff | Mar 29, 2012

The Save Honolua Coalition is currently drafting a management plan for Honolua Bay.

Hawaiians consider it a treasured cultural resource.

To some, it’s a world-class, big wave surf spot; to others, it’s a Marine Life Conservation District.

Environmentalists are trying to protect it; land trusts want to manage it; community groups want to save it; and the children of West Maui don’t want to lose it.

There are kuleana lands within it, and “McMansions” have been built around it.

Everyone agrees it has an intrinsic value, but price tags have been put on it.

The hills south of the rugged shoreline have been bulldozed, landscaped and tamed; and, with urban growth extending north, some call it the last stand.

One activist worried, “If we don’t stop development here, what’s next?”

In 2007, in response to the threat of the development of 40 homes and a golf course at the Upper West Side haven, the powerful Save Honolua Coalition (SHC) was formed.

Its vision was, and still is, to revitalize the health of the Honolua Ahupua’a through community-based management utilizing Hawaiian values and practices.

With strong leadership and international support, SHC’s mission is to create a bridge between the needs of the aina, people and the landowner.

A 9,471-square-foot vacant lot near the shoreline of the bay was recently put on the auction block; and, conservation buyers Wayne and Elle Cochran outbid Maui Land & Pineapple Company with a $30,000 offer.?

The Cochrans call Honolua their home. Wayne is on the SHC board, and Elle is a member of the Maui County Council.

In an interview with the Lahaina News, Elle explained their position.

“You purchase land for another entity or organization. That is what the Trust for Public Land has done for Paukukalo for the county.?

“What Wayno and I have done is on a smaller scale but basically for the same principal. Someone fronts the money to hold it, knowing all along that another entity or organization will take it over,” she said.

Ultimately, she added, “I want the Save Honolua Coalition to take care of it, to manage it, to malama it.? They have a plan,” she said.

“The goal is for that end of the island to be preserved and protected,” the first president of the coalition continued, “and I think they are that entity to accomplish that. This little parcel will just be a stepping stone in order to accomplish both goals.?I think it is definitely a benefit, and that’s what I’d like to see happen.”

Elle cautioned, “The auction is not finalized. We don’t own the land until the judge brings down the gavel to close the deal.?Until then, everything is up in the air. I have no idea what’s going to happen. It’s quite scary.”

The confirmation hearing on the auction has been extended to mid-September.

At that time, Cochran explained, “the bidding process is reopened. They will ask three times.?If nobody says anything, we, the Cochrans, close the deal. If someone steps in and bids (at least 5 percent higher than $30,000), the bidding starts all over again.”

Tamara Paltin is the current president of the grassroots nonprofit SHC. To her, the

“It is a real small parcel, but the location to do positive things for Honolua Bay as far as management and things like that is immeasurable,” she said.

She has put her pen to the task of drafting a management plan and is lobbying the county for support with the circulation to elected officials, and a request to “provide some of the funds set aside for the acquisition of land at Honolua from the open space fund …”

“The Save Honolua Coalition has raised some money in the form of donation/pledges/loans in case a bidding war resumes, and we do have a management plan,” she wrote.

The objectives of the management plan are simple and straightforward: 1) To continue to provide port-a-potty service; 2) Reinstate a Makai Watch education station; 3) Provide education and support for the use of newly installed “day-use mooring buoys” within the Honolua Marine Life Conservation District; and, 4) Provide networking and community service opportunities for interested youth and the public.

Beyond that, the coalition has a loftier purpose – to bring all stakeholders under one umbrella.

“What I see happening here is the community, our elected officials and the company (Maui Land and Pineapple Company) all coming together to make sure that a small but important piece of Honolua is kept in open space.?It is a meaningful step towards the higher goal which is to preserve, and hopefully heal, what is left of the Honolua Ahupua’a,” SHC Secretary John Carty concluded.