SB 894, a bill appropriating funds to acquire undeveloped land surrounding Turtle Bay Hotel and Resort, passed second reading in the Senate Feb. 13.
“This coastline is treasured by people around the world, and voluntary land conservation can help the community and the resort protect it for the benefit of residents and visitors alike,” North Shore conservationist Blake McElheny commented about the bill to the Weekly.
The bill drew strong community support when it was heard Feb. 5. The overwhelming majority of the 176 pages of testimony submitted prior to the hearing urged the bill’s passage (more than 90 percent support), citing that further development would lead to increased traffic and pressure on infrastructure and the environment. Current plans in the developer’s Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement would result in a 300 percent increase in the development’s footprint.
Those who opposed the bill expressed concerns that fewer jobs on the North Shore would mean fewer opportunities, longer commutes and more disruption for families.
Supporters emphasized the importance of collaboration between the State and the landowner. “The North Shore of Oahu has already demonstrated that these types of cooperative investments produce results through the protection of Pupukea Paumalu, Waimea Valley and the Galbraith Estate,” said McElheny.
Lea Hong of the Trust for Public Land expressed concern that the bill allows for the State to use eminent domain to acquire lands.
Hong, who submitted testimony in partial support, told the Weekly that while she does “support the intent of the bill,” and always supports voluntary conservation, she can’t endorse involuntary conservation.
Sen. Clayton Hee, the bill’s introducer, could not be reached for comment by press time.