The Oahu Mayoral Election and the Likely Impact on the Future of Kailua

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Kailua Beach

BY URSULA RETHERFORD – The Oahu mayoral election is about far more than rail. Many other things hang in the balance, not least the future of Kailua.

For years, our community has fought hard to counter Kaneohe Ranch’s continuing efforts to turn our residential town into a major tourist destination. Mayoral candidate Kirk Caldwell is not on Kailua’s side of this fight, as indicated by the following:


• Caldwell supports short-term vacation rentals in residentially zoned neighborhoods;
• Caldwell opposes the recently passed city ordinance that bans commercial activities at Kailua and Kalama beach parks;
• Caldwell’s candidacy has strong support from Kaneohe Ranch and other development interests;
• Caldwell’s wife, Donna Tanoue, sits on the Board of Kaneohe Ranch.

None of this bodes well for our efforts to prevent the turning of Kailua into another Waikiki, should Caldwell be elected mayor.

Former Gov. and Mayoral Candidate Ben Cayetano, on the other hand, wants to protect the residential character of Kailua and long-term affordable rentals and housing for our local residents. He is opposed to legislation that would permit more short- term vacation rentals in residential zoning. He strongly agrees that Kailua and Kalama beach parks should provide for safe and enjoyable recreation for local residents and visitors, free of commercial activities. He is in full support of the recently passed city ordinance that bans commercial exploitation of our beach parks.

If we are to stop the selling out of Kailua as a major tourist destination and preserve the residential quality of life of our town, it is of critical importance that we elect Ben Cayetano as our next mayor.

As Cayetano indicated early on, this election is not primarily about rail, it is about money and power controlling our lives and the future of our island.  We should not let the lies and attacks on Cayetano by the PRP Hawaii and the development interests determine the future of Kailua, and of our island.

Ursula Retherford is a Kailua resident.





  1. I will DEFINITELY vote for Kirk then. Thanks for this info. Hawaii is a place that depends on tourism. We can't have it both ways. Tourist are allowed all over the island, why should Kailua be exempt. Give your fair share Kailua!

  2. The real issue here is commercial tourism sprawl and how residential communities such as Kailua, Hawaii Kai and the North Shore are being improperly transformed into de-facto resort areas by vacation rentals owners and other tourism-oriented businesses. Every home that is converted into a mini-hotel is one less home for residents to live in. I agree with Ursula. Caldwell doesn’t get it and is most likely being influenced by special interest groups. Let’s keep neighbors in our neighborhoods. Please, No vacation rentals in residential zoning!

  3. I live in Kailua. Send the tourists over. Let them spend their money in Kailua. Let them rent rooms in homes for a better hawaii experience. Hurry up and finish Target and then build a COSTCO please. Don't let the super rich elite think they own Kailua town. Let Kailua grow and evolve.

  4. I find it interesting that the proponents of illegal vacation rentals like to always label the residents of Kailua as either the “elite-rich” or “nimby’s”. The truth is most Kailua residents who want to keep Kailua a residential community are just regular folks trying to raise theirs kids in a "residential" neighborhood environment. In contrast, the owners of illegal vacation rentals are actually very rich. Most of them live on the mainland or internationally and their Kailua investment homes are 2nd or 3rd properties for them. They have no concern for the neighbors or the neighborhood because they don’t live there. They don’t participate in neighborhood watch programs or volunteer at the library. They don’t coach our kids soccer or participate in beach clean-ups. They don't care that many Kailua residents are being priced out of the long-term rental market or will never be able to purchase a home in Kailua where they were raised. The illegal vaction rental owners are only interested in maximizing the return on their investment.

  5. As far as Kailua evolving into a Windward Waikiki; I guess at least one Kailua residents wants to see that that happen, but the vast majority of Kailua residents do not. I predict Caldwell does very poorly in Kailua.

  6. i also live in kailua. all the white people out there saying keep kailua the way it is make me laugh. kailua has already been destroyed by you guys hahahahahah

  7. In this troubled times and economy every community should do their share. No one community should be exempt. If the people of Kailua do not want tourist to visit their area they should at least allow the homeless people to move into the area thereby making other areas (i.e. Waikiki) more attractive for the tourist to visit. Come on Kailua, you have to help our economy.

  8. Having moved to Kailua almost 20 years ago from top of the hill in Makakilo I must say it was a wonderful idea.
    Kailua is a great place and it's well I remember some local folks advising me to move to what they shared with me what they knew as "Haolewood". Even on the few comments here you can sense some jealousy and indeed a touch of racism.
    Kailua is the best place to live on our islands. Ben will help us keep it that way. We welcome you all to visit and yes you too will want to stay.

  9. Jim, residential zoning is for residential homes, not visitor lodging businesses. Allowing homes to be utilized as visitor lodging for tourists and not residential housing is actually contributing to our homeless problem. Visitor lodging businesses change the de-facto land-use of a property from residential to resort. That increases the value of the property and makes long-term rentals and home purchasing for residents less affordable. If you were really concern for the homeless and the affordability of housing in Kailua, you would shut down your illegal vacation rental and offer your property to Kailua residents as a long-term rental.

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