Friday, June 8, 2012

Musings: Beach Block Push Back

Lance Laney, who is married to PUC Chair Mina Morita, is pushing back against an effort to prevent people from using an easement to the beach through the old Hanalei Plantation site.

Lance said he's been using the access to do summertime fishing for years. But last week, a security guard called the police after telling Lance the property was private and he couldn't walk through it.

Lance went anyway, noting that the gate was wide open and there weren't any no trespassing signs. Soon, three cops showed up. “At first they had an attitude, a definite attitude,” Lance said. But after talking with him for a while, “they backed off totally from their original stance and turned out to be pretty nice, polite guys.”

As a local friend observed, when I told him this story, “yeah, because they realized he wasn't just any fucking haole.”

Anyway, the cops initially told Lance he had to leave. “I said 'why? I'm on the beach,'” he recalled. “They kind of backed off, then one said, 'but if you go back up through this piece of property, I'll have to arrest you.'”

The cops reportedly told him they'd been advised that the easement no longer existed because the new owners — Ohana Hanalei LLC, an affiliate of Montage Resorts, an ultra luxury hotel developer whose properties are owned by eBay and Civil Beat founder Pierre Omidyar, according to the Wall Street Journal — had supposedly done a swap with the St. Regis. So he would have to use the access there.

“I said 'look at me. I have on my tabis, my fishing vest. I'm carrying a fishing pole They don't want me walking through the St. Regis Hotel,'” Lance said. “And they [St. Regis] hassle you, too. They don't make it easy for you. To offer an easement down there is a complete slap in the face because it's all private parking. There's no place to park.”

By comparison, there's ample parking along the county-owned Hanalei Plantation Road.

Lance said he told the cops that if they were right, he wouldn't return, but if they were wrong, he'd keep using the access. So he went to the county and researched the TMK, which shows the easement.
It is also listed in the county's 1984 beach access guide as a .35-mile easement that goes through the center of the property, and is included in the state's Na Ala Hele inventory.

Curiously, the April 2012 draft proposal for the project, submitted to the Hanalei-Haena Community Association, notes [emphasis added]:

In addition to the existing public pedestrian easement located along the ridge, a new pedestrian access to the beach wil be provided along Honu Road and bordering the northern portion of the site over an elevated boardwalk above the marsh to provide enhanced public access to the shoreline.

Lance then consulted with an attorney, who told him it looked like an open public right-of-way, and that even if there had been an in-house agreement among landowners to swap easements, that can't be done without public notice, and it appeared there was none.

“To me, it looks like they're aware of the fact that it's illegal to close it off, but they're trying to discourage people,” Lance said, noting he had recently heard reports of other fishermen being hassled there, too. “It's not a popular access because people are discouraged from going down there. I'm sure a lot of surfers would like to park on top and go down there. It would save them a long paddle out into the [Hanalei Bay] backdoor channel.”

Lance said it was the first time he'd seen anyone acting as a security guard on the site, though she wasn't wearing a uniform and was sitting in an unmarked car. “The only thing she could have been guarding was the access,” he said, noting no construction materials were on-site.

“It's just one piece of property after another that the developers buy up and close,” Lance said. “It's just another nail in our coffin, trying to close up our access to the beach and mountains. I've been here all my life. I've been watching this happen and I've never said a word, because I've been too busy with my business. But I think I'm right on this one and I'm gonna push the issue.”

Lance said he plans to make copies of the documents so he can show them to the police if they are called again. He also thinks the cops “should understand these easement laws. This was not an isolated incident. There have been other problems down there.”

I sent an email to Planning Director Mike Dahilig yesterday, asking what's up with this property and its easement, but I haven't yet gotten a reply.

Meanwhile, in perusing some of the information on Princeville Corp.'s sale of that parcel, which has a rather interesting history, with more details available herehere and here  — amazing how the value of the property has so dramatically increased — I came upon this quote from P'ville owner Jeff Stone:

"We believe Montage is the ultimate luxury brand that will create memorable experiences for guests to and residents of Kaua'i."



Anonymous said...

This makes me mad! They're stealing our beaches!

Anonymous said...

Mr Laney did a good job in standing his ground without escalating a right to access the beach through easement laws. Great research Mr Laney, you must spread the word and let others know through TGI letters to the editor or some other form where the public, land owners, planning department, dlnr, police, and public officials are educated also.

Anonymous said...

Time to boycott ebay!

Anonymous said...

Ordinary people don't question when told by security guard or staff that its private mahalo to Lance for pursuing the matter and finding out the truth. How much of our access has been lost in this same manner? Has any research been done on this or at least on the North Shore where abuse seems to run rampant?

c.f. said...

Somebody should produce a book of public easements - along the lines of the trail books - a page describing and mapping each easement.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I agree, need to map and PUBLISH easements! Maybe it could be published on the Kaua'i Ocean website. Most "beach" authors use that as a first point of research anyway.

OBTW Pierre sold Ebay.

Need to superglue jeff stones lips shut.

Anonymous said...

Yep. Da rich no like you goin on dere beach! Aue. Same ting happenin in Malibu and odda rich enclaves. Dey no have nuff yeah!

Anonymous said...

Two Thumbs Up! Outstanding Idea

Anonymous said...

If Lance had been somebody else... this could have gotten very nasty...and that is a problem. The law should not be about who you know or who you are married to or even if you are a local or a haole. My point is not about Mr. Laney at all...I have lived here 25 years, know Mr. Laney, and understand the point the other commenter was trying to make. It just gave me a gut wrench to read it. The law should not be about your connections. I think Mr. Laney had the mana to engage the police in a civil and intelligent manner... and thank goodness...because this might be a teachable moment. The little people...the non elites... the locals, the haoles...we are all waking up to BS and not tolerating it anymore... and now we know how to take actian and get the message out. Civil Servants (emphasis on SERVANTS)...know your job and know your place.

Anonymous said...

We need to start "visiting" there walks etc., and let them know we know it is still ours as the public to use....if it is not ours...then we need to know how the public good was compensated for the loss of our easement.

Anonymous said...

I am pretty sure that Hanalei Plantaion Road is owned by the same people that own this land.
Good job Lance.

Anonymous said...

I donʻt understand how it is called an ʻeasementʻ when it (the red line) stops in the middle of the property.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, Joan, I had been looking at the photo on Juanʻs site as well and it has a red line where it is easy to see how this ʻeasementʻ just stops right in the middle and forces you to turn around and go back the way you came. Does not allow exit.
Am I reading this wrong?

Joan Conrow said...

If you have a question about a graphic on Juan's site, you'll need to ask him!

Anonymous said...

It would be appropriate for Lance to now file a police report against the security guard. Impeding someone's lawful access through public property is a crime. With a police report and a nod from the prosecutor such a crime could be prosecuted - sending a very loud message.
The OPA needs to begin protecting access and the environment. When was the last time anyone saw an environmental crime or a deprivation of access prosecuted? This could start with a police report. Let the security guard tell the police where his marching orders came from.
I would be very interested to know where the two candidates for prosecutor stand on this. Would either one of them be willing to criminally prosecute the owners/guard for denying lawful access?
Until law enforcement gets involved - the fight to preserve access is hard, depending on a handful of lawyers and huli chicken sales. Its an election year. Time to pressure candidates on issue like this !
So Justin / Shaylene - is this a crime - sending a guard to kick someone out of an easement where he is allowed to be - by law?
If the guard told the cops its private property - was that a false statement to a police officer?

Anonymous said...

Could it be attempted theft of public property?

HRS: Theft is when "A person ...exerts control over, the property of another by deception with intent to deprive the other of the property. "

Yes Lance should go on the offensive, instead of waiting to show his documents to cops to defend himself. File a police report.

By the way, props to the cops for listening to the suspect and handling it right.

Anonymous said...

Criminally prosecuting the guard would be difficult and costly. You'd need a title abstractor and a surveyor at a minimum just to establish ownership and the boundaries.

Anonymous said...

to the last seems costly to prosecute someone trying to steal an easement... but very simple to intimidate, harass and even arrest a citizen just trying to walk to the beach. Sad reality.

Anonymous said...

Cheaper than prosecuting a rice cooker, or paying for the prosecutors private lawyer.

Anonymous said...

No Mel I dont want to testify against Vinnie, He will Kill me. Shut up haole! The PA said to meet us here at this time. Ok Vinnie Moore is here so you do what you gotta do. Moore can I buy some pills, yeah sure where you like meet Anahola beach. Ok he going be at anahola beach dont leave me at the store. Get em wait wait dont shoot bang bang bang! I'll be the Judge of that! Who set who up and who is the real manipulators in this murder. The PA, Her prize Private Investigator, The Family connects, the gob, the cosa nostra, the lifeguard relative, or the colllussionaries.

Anonymous said...

anonymous 10:42 AM, what the hell are you talking about? Sounds like you're on drugs or something.

Anonymous said...

TGI comments: Murderer won't see parole for over 45 years- Chuckayewy June 8th, 1107pm comment. Edumucate urself you effin troll

Anonymous said...

Hurry before TGI censors it, just like the Ms Filipino comments that the contest was rigged. TGI is Commi / Nazi bastards

Anonymous said...

Easy to (mis)direct the comments off topic!

Anonymous said...

The Kauai Open Space Commission 2005 report has Kauai beach access listed. Appendix G includes the 1991 list of beach access.
It is available at

Anonymous said...

So there is a public list available, but KPD has not been advised or made unaware, since 2005?

Our government has not updated or dedicated any time to provide the public with an update because the large landowners don't want it published? Really?