Lawmakers Ask City Council Members to Stop Development on Hawaii Kai Preservation Land

article top
Great Lawn, Hawaii Kai

Rep. Gene Ward, R-Hawaii Kai, Sen. Laura Thielen, D-Kailua-Hawaii Kai, and Sam Slom, R-Hawaii Kai-Diamond Head, sent a letter on April 16 to the Honolulu City Council asking its 9 members to oppose development of the “Great Lawn”, a parcel 14-acre parcel in Hawaii Kai now zoned as preservation land.

The land is one of the last remaining open spaces in the community, but owner Kamehameha Schools, wants to develop 4.5 acres into a shopping center anchored by the locally owned grocery store chain, Foodland.


For the development to proceed, the Honolulu City Council would need to rezone the parcel from preservation to commercial. The Hawaii Kai Neighborhood Board, the Outdoor Circle, the organization that runs the Hawaii Kai dog park, many paddlers from Hui Nalu Canoe Club, and several other environmental and community groups, have already come out in support of keeping the land zoned as preservation and free from commercial development.

Hundreds of Hawaii Kai residents opposed the plan at a town hall meeting on Thursday, March 21, with just four people at the meeting indicating support.

Several residents spoke on their concerns about the project and how it would impact the popular dog park and Maunalua Bay, which is heavily used by paddlers, boaters, fishermen, picnickers, tour buses, firefighters in training and workout clubs. They also cited concerns about already heavy traffic fronting the Great Lawn property on Kalanianaole Highway. Others mentioned the view of the mountains that surround Hawaii Kai would be marred by development, and preservation land and open space is disappearing at too rapid a pace.

“East Oahu residents, have on more than one occasion, expressed the need to uphold the East Oahu Sustainable Community Plan by keeping that land zoned preservation. The community has also expressed the essence of who they are as people and place are not defined by shopping convenience, but rather by the natural beauty of the area,” the letter from Ward, Thielen and Slom said

Kamehameha Schools and Foodland hired OmniTrak Group Inc. to poll the community on the project and claimed 72 percent of the nearly 400 people contacted were in support of the project. However, Marian Grey, a resident who received a call from the polling company, said the pollster who she spoke to tried to convince her to support the retail project, even after she said several times that she was opposed and wanted the area to remain open preservation space.

Ward said he took his own poll with the results turning out much differently: 87 percent of residents oppose the strip mall’s construction on preservation land.

Council member Stanley Chang is a key vote on the 9-member council that will decided whether to rezone the property because he represents the east Oahu area.

Chang was “booed” at the March 21 meeting after he first said he would listen to the people of Hawaii Kai who made their feelings opposing the project clear, but then qualified his statement moments later saying he had not decided whether he would support the project.

Chang declined to sign the letter authored by Ward, Thielen and Slom.

Rep. Mark Hashem, who represents the Hawaii Kai area, also declined to sign the letter.

Neither Chang nor Hashem responded to media inquiries yesterday asking for clarification on their position on the project and why they declined to sign the letter expressing opposition to the project.





  1. Keeping the Great Lawn free of any development is a HUGE issue for those of us who own land in Hawaii Kai, as well as many who come to enjoy its beauty. We have watched the green open space disappear year by year and this is where we must draw the line! Kamehameha Schools has earned a good return on past conversion of lease to fee; they can be magnanimous on this issue and truly stand with us in preserving this last remnant of what used to be.

    Messrs. Chang and Hashem – if you are not with us, we can replace you. No one is indispensible.

    • Carla, I would also hope that Kam schools who has historically supported the native Hawai'ian people including it's very mission of quality education for keikis of Hawai'ian decent would realize the problem of the over-development of Oah'u (and neighbor islands) and it's impact on the Hawai'ian people and resist financial gain at the loss of the people it claims to serve.

  2. Well said Carla. Stanley Chang has been heard to say he represents the "silent majority" but he doesn't have a clue what the silent majority think. WE speak for the silent majority and we want to preserve this last remnant of open land in perpetuity. I have a letter from Mark Hashem saying that he does not favor development on this property, so I don't know why he refused to sign the letter. I plan to call him on it. Meanwhile, Councilmember Chang, be it known that your political career is OVER.

  3. As I had written before regarding this issue, I was raised in Hawai'i in Kahala and Waialae Iki and frequented the Hawai'i Kai area visiting friends or heading to Blow Hole, Sandy Beach and Makapu'u. I live on the mainland and miss my home and I take particular interest in this issue.
    I remember when I was able to visit home years ago and noticed the rapid change in the landscape that makes Hawai'i so unique and beautiful. Development has become out of control and this is a major problem considering that most tourists visit Hawai'i for it's natural beauty, they do not want to come to an island that has been 'destroyed' by over-development that has happened on Oah'u and now making it's way to the outer islands. People do not want to see a 'concrete jungle'. This issue also affects the native Hawai'ian people who have been 'pushed' from their land.
    I remember reading that there is a abandoned or underused shopping center nearby. Foodland and other retailers can occupy this property. There is no reason that abandoned/ underused properties cannot be refurbished and used for retail. There is nothing more unsightly than abandoned buildings especially larger ones such as ones used for retail.
    Open land on Oah'u is now rare and the Great Lawn must not be allowed to be developed for yet another shopping/retail property. Supporters of this plan claim that there will be space provided for residents to enjoy recreational activities but I am convinced that there will be a price to pay for this. The Great Lawn and the remaining free land that is disappearing belong to the people of Hawai'i and the people should be allowed to enjoy the beauty of the Hawai'ian Islands without having to pay a price be it to attend these 'activities' or the much higher price of permanent change of the natural beauty of the open lands to yet another 'strip mall'.

  4. NIMBY-not in your upscale backyards,eh?where was all the concern back in the '60's, '70's when hawaii kai was a lot of farmlands?no calls for preservation?but now that yo folks are all settled in,problems? were you allconcerned when you decided to buy property in hawaii Kaiwhile building and construction was going on? maybe you could have KMS donate itto homeless veterans.never mind.

  5. It's more of a traffic concern than anything. Hawaii's civil engineers are the dimmist light bulbs in the garage……

Comments are closed.