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Ooma on LUC agenda in Kona (May 5)

The state Land Use Commission (LUC) hearing regarding a development company’s request to change coastal Ooma’s Conservation classification to Urban is 10 a.m. Wednesday, May 5 at King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel.

Those unable to testify in person may submit written statements via e-mail to

The panel also plans a Ooma site visit 11:30 a.m. Thursday, May 6. Ooma’s owners and county representatives are expected to be there. The visit is open to the public; however, no public testimony will be taken on site.

Coastal Ooma is 300 acres makai of the Queen Kaahumanu Highway, adjacent and between NELHA and Kohanaiki (aka “Pine Trees”). This is a separate development from the neighboring Kohanaiki’s golf course development, which already has been approved and is temporarily halted.

The LUC will not be making a decision Wednesday on Ooma’s reclassification. The reclassification decision may take several months, although the LUC is expected to schedule the decision-making hearing in Kona.

A grassroots community group says it has gathered more than 2,400 signatures on a petition asking to protect Ooma from reclassification, development, and the impending threat of limited public shoreline access.

Among the group’s concerns:

Why should Ooma II remain in protected Conservation status and be acquired by the County as Open, Public space?

Open coastline and coastal Conservation land on Hawaii Island is vanishing,

Class AA waters like those off the Ooma coast must be protected.

Ooma was listed by the Hawaii County Open Space Commission as the top five place to be acquired as public, open space . Only protecting and acquiring both Ooma II parcels will insure that the public has a reasonable slice of what’s left of Kona’s coastal pie as well as meet community demands to protect remaining coastal, conservation lands in their natural state.

This proposal is strictly speculative and will never be built as planned. Once the Conservation classification is lost, the land will be for sale to the highest bidder.

There are no guarantees that housing and/or commercial plans for this property will be economically sustainable over the long-term, Palamanui, Kohanaiki, and Hokulia are just three projects that sit idle due to inability and/or unwillingness of landowners to follow through on their plans.

Projections of the need for new commercial space need to be re-examined. With so many failing businesses and commercial spaces opening up, the creation of new commercial space on coastal land seems an even more ludicrous waste of a sensitive, natural landscape.

More low-paying or temporary construction jobs are the last thing Kona needs.

Those jobs don’t contribute to a sustainable economy that protects and honors what is special about Hawaii’s natural, cultural and social resources. In fact, there are 15,000 permitted buildings in North Kona district already awaiting construction (and on land that is zoned for development). When the economy heats up, there will be more than enough construction jobs to fulfill Kona’s construction employment needs.

It makes economic sense to protect Ooma’s Conservation status. Many businesses in Kona depend upon maintaining a healthy, natural environment, both on- and off-shore.

Surfing’s popularity is soaring, yet safe, clean water and uncrowded surf breaks are becoming victims of overcrowding and polluted runoff throughout the State.

Cultural and archeological resources at Ooma II must be appropriately protected and/or made accessible, depending upon their nature.

No more development should be approved until infrastructure catches up to existing development. Roads, schools, parks, and affordable housing must be created for the people who already live here before more development is approved.

The Ooma II development plan was not created from the grassroots-up — just another developer-generated plan. Development proponents claim Ooma Beachside Village fulfills the goals of the Kona Community Development Plan. The reality: it ignores the community’s desire to protect open, coastal space from private development.

There is no need for so-called “improvements” at Ooma. Private control and development of Ooma will result in the loss of its natural integrity and long-term benefits which the community, in great numbers, already enjoys.

There is no guarantee that plans presented by Ooma’s current owners are anything more than a way to increase entitlements in order to get more profit from the land’s resale.

Coastal Ooma has been the flash point of two monumental community land use victories in the last two decades. Why are we still doing this? Our leaders need to heed the thousands of steadfast voices that are asking Ooma be protected in its natural state.

Ooma II’s Conservation designation is no fluke, and keeping it that way best serves the public interest. The environmental, cultural, and recreational resources of the entire Ooma II area deserve the highest degree of protection.

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