Shortly before 8 o’clock on Tuesday morning, I was on the phone with Tim Vandeveer of Defend Oahu Coalition, listening to him outline a meeting to be held that night regarding development plans at Turtle Bay Resort. Suddenly it sounded like Tim had fallen into a jet engine.
“Sorry,” he laughed, “George (Downing) is counting it down and people are going nuts.”
And with that, “the Eddie” was on. As wave-watchers around the world know, Tuesday marked just the eighth time that conditions allowed for the Quicksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau to take place in the 25-year history of the event. The monster swell brought surfers, locals and visitors alike to Waimea and just about everything else on the North Shore ground to a halt.
Vandeveer was as stoked to be there as I was jealous of him, but give the guy credit–he’s committed to his mission.
“Imagine if the traffic was like this every day,” he said. “We want the public to realize that this fight [over new construction at Turtle Bay] is about to enter a different phase.”
Probably a stretch, but Vandeveer’s frustration is understandable. Turtle Bay management is slated to finish road-widening work at the entrance to the hotel by the end of the year, at which point–barring something unexpected–the City Department of Planning and Permitting will almost certainly approve construction of five new resort properties.
“From there, it’s final bulk lot subdivision approval,” Vandeveer said. He was referring to the city Transportation Department’s approval of a Turtle Bay-produced traffic management plan. The plan asserts that the introduction of five additional hotels, with 3,500 rooms and 1,000 condominium units, will not significantly impact traffic on the North Shore.
“It’s ludicrous,” Vandeveer said. “We already see ridiculous traffic anytime something unusual happens.”
Vandeveer worries that complacency has settled in on the North Shore following Gov. Linda Lingle’s 2008 announcement that the State would seek to acquire the undeveloped property around the resort. That hasn’t happened, and Turtle Bay’s development plans appear to be proceeding as scheduled.
“If you don’t want to sit in traffic on the North Shore,” Vandeveer laughed Tuesday, “you’ll need to be driving in circles at the entrance to Turtle Bay. ”
On our cover this week is Adrienne LaFrance’s story exploring some disturbing facts about how local teenagers are faring. The piece gives voice to students at Waianae High School who are facing a host of challenges above and beyond those faced by all teens as they struggle to navigate the treacherous path to adulthood. We’re aware that some will inevitably read this story as an indictment of Waianae and its youth, but I trust most readers will see it for what it is–a rare audience with some of the most misunderstood, and under-served, teenagers in Hawaii. They deserve to be heard.
Also this week, be sure to check out Martha Cheng’s piece on the soon-to-be-dismantled culinary training program at the women’s prison in Kailua. There are many casualties of our collective and systemic failure to balance our state’s books, and prison cooking classes probably don’t rise to the top of anyone’s list, but it’s still tough to see programs like this one go.