Kuilima Resort Company’s press releases about the creditors taking control of the resort
in lieu of foreclosure miss the point entirely. The expansion of the Turtle Bay Resort from about 500 rooms to 4000 resort units is overwhelming unpopular because of the potentially catastrophic impacts such an expansion would cause on the North Shore community.
Development spokesmen complain about a lack of certainty and then admit that the new
owners plan to keep the property for only three to five years. They assure us that resort
expansion has been continuous since 1986, but they have no immediate plans for any new hotels.
Instead, they talk about a small park they were supposed to dedicate years ago and some vague plan for affordable housing.
On the other hand, to qualify for subdivision approval, Kuilima has presented traffic
studies based on full project completion by 2018. While their own statements about the project are contradictory, they are certain that they should never have to perform a Supplemental EIS (SEIS); not after 25 years, not after 50 years; apparently, not ever.
It is hard to imagine a more perfect example of when an SEIS should be required. The
1985 EIS contemplated traffic impacts through the year 2000 and it projected Kamehameha Hwy would be able to handle the expected traffic of the fully expanded resort. Twenty-five years later and 10 years beyond the EIS traffic projections, the North Shore suffers periodic gridlock without any resort expansion, let alone the thousands of additional vehicles per hour an expanded resort would generate.
Stanford Carr, Kuilima’s Interim Manager, incorrectly claims a Supreme Court ruling in
favor of an SEIS “would wipe out master-planned communities because master-planned
communities take decades. Look at Mililani, it took 40 years.”
Carr’s doomsday argument is simply untrue. The federal government, 19 states, the
District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico have environmental disclosure laws similar to Hawaii’s, and these laws have never halted the land development process or caused lenders to deny loans on real property.
Incidentally, Mililani was continuously built in phases and is now complete. It has ample
regional infrastructure, wide roads and a freeway. Turtle Bay Resort, after 25 years of not
expanding, has minimal regional infrastructure, a narrow country highway and regional traffic gridlock.
Much has changed since the 1985 EIS and the expansion plan approval in 1986. An
SEIS will not send Kuilima Resort Company “back to square one in planning,” but it will allow public involvement in reviewing the impacts that are indisputably more intense and unwelcome than they were understood to be decades ago.
Everyone knows the Turtle Bay Resort Expansion is the classic example of when a
Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement is needed.
Keep the North Shore Country, along with Sierra Club, Hawaii Chapter, is involved in a
legal challenge with Kuilima Resort Company and the City and County of Honolulu
Department of Planning and Permitting over the need to require a Supplemental
Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed Turtle Bay Resort Expansion. The
underlying Environmental Impact Statement was completed in 1985 and the developer
now wants to proceed with a project that was approved in 1986.
News and Legal Documents are available at http://www.KeeptheNorthShoreCountry.org