After hearing a few cries of alarm about the proposed beach access through Falko Partners' Kahuaina Plantation, I decided to check it out. Because there's nothing like actually seeing something for yourself. And I took pictures, so you can see, too.
The access begins off Koolau Road, north of the dirt road that leads to the Larsen's Beach trailhead. You drive through a gate, onto a concrete driveway.
And park in a lot that will be graveled, with space for 20 cars.
Leaving your car, you take a 15-to-20-minute walk along a grassy, 10-foot-wide access. It's quite level, with lovely mauka-makai views and seabirds and nene flying overhead.
At the end of the grass, the trail goes down a gentle slope.
It stops first at a little triangle of land shaded by ironwood trees. It's an area I've walked through many times, not realizing it was privately owned. Falko is proposing to dedicate this triangle to the county.
You can walk through the triangle to reach Waipake Beach.
Or, you can go through a rock outcropping and drop onto the coastal trail that connects Waipake Beach with Larsen's (Lepeuli) Beach.
In other words, we are being given the exact same coastal trail we've been happily and safely using for years, though one alarmist termed it the "precipice of death."
Only now, we'll also have a mauka-makai access, so we can get to this beautiful beach without having to walk all the way from Larsen's.
Which means this remote, still wild beach, where monk seals pup and turtles bask, is going to get more use, a thought that gives me a little pang, because it's so special, so remarkable. And what we humans use, we tend to destroy.
So why would anyone in their right mind want to encourage even more use, by pushing for vehicular access right to the bluff and a paved trail that would funnel people into a relatively pristine area with no bathrooms, no lifeguards and dangerous ocean conditions that have already resulted in numerous drownings and near-drownings?
Which brings us to a group that is small in number, but loud in voice. It includes Richard Spacer, whose sole agenda is nude beaches; David Dinner of 1000 Friends of Kauai, a membership-less group that doesn't do anything anymore except show up to say no to perfectly reasonable proposals; and Hope and Tim Kallai, who want to also squeeze a bluff top path out of Falko, which they claim is an ancient ala loa.
But that ain't gonna happen unless the county condemns it, because the beach along here is always usable, even in big surf. Under state law, the sand is our lateral shoreline access. And while I sympathize with their desire to establish the ala loa, the route remains unresolved on the bordering properties — owned by Waioli Corp. and Pflueger — and is possibly facing litigation on the Waioli side. It's highly unlikely the state would arbitrarily assign a route through the Falko lands at this point.
As for the beach access now on the table, I thought it was wonderful, one I would love to use because it feels like old Kauai. And the dozens of local fisherman who testified in favor of keeping it a foot path at the planning commission are happy with it, too.
Which is why, at the end of our walk, I turned to Shawn Smith of Falko Properties and said, "So WTF is the problem?"
If it's unhappiness about the 375-acre "ag subdivision" that this access goes through, well, that boat has already sailed. It's been approved as a15-lot subdivision and through the CPR process, got the maximum density of 75 homes, with no guest houses or vacation rentals allowed. It is now on the market, and someone will either buy it for a private estate, or sell it off as "gentleman's estates."
That unfortunate fact isn't going to change, because the county has already approved the subdivision, and it doesn't have a history of enforcing the farm dwelling agreements required for all houses on ag land.
The only question now is whether the County Council should accept the proposed beach access through the subdivision. And the answer is yes, it's a good'un.