Veteran surfer questions access to beach at Po’ipu

For the past 30 years, Po’ipu resident Herb Case has parked in a public parking lot in front of Po’ipu Beach Park and walked to the county park to socialize, partake in barbecues and surf.

Now, Case, 81, contends his access has been cut back because the developer of the new Waiohai Beach Club has built a buffer zone in the parking lot, resulting in the loss of space for up to 100 vehicles.

Previously, the parking lot, which abuts the resort site, allowed for parking of 200 vehicles, Case said.

Case contends the improvement should take place on the developer’s property and that the work will prevent him, other residents and visitors from having ready access to a county beach park.

The park was rated among the best all-round beaches in the yearly survey of America’s best beaches done by Stephen Leatherman, a geologist at the Florida International University and leading beach authority.

The Waiohai Hotel was located to the west of the county park and was severely damaged by Hurricane ‘Iniki in 1992. It was razed prior to the construction of Marriott’s new project.

Marriott Ownership Resorts is now converting the former 461-room hotel into a 227-unit timeshare resort for $50 million. The resort sits on 11.8 acres.

Greg Kamm, a project manager for the project, was not immediately available for comment.

Case said the buffer zone means residents and visitors will have less parking by the beach, creating conflicts.

Case said he believes time share tenants will park their vehicles in the smaller parking lot as well, creating more parking problems.

“The parking lot is half-full at 8 a.m., with vehicles of the workers (from the time share project site),” Case said. “That leaves about 50 parking spaces for everyone else. That is not much.”

He said he now takes a moped to the beach because he can’t readily find parking by Po’ipu Beach park.

“It is sad, because 30 years ago (when he moved to Kaua’i from Waianae on O’ahu), I could park anywhere around here,” Case said.

Over that time, Case said he has tried to make it to the Po’ipu Beach Park every day. “I got to know the local gang. I went surfing, and as I got older, I went swimming,” Case said. “I could go to the beach any time knowing there was parking.”

Representatives for the developer said paved parking for 132 vehicles would be created in the parking lot.

Case said he reported the creation of the buffer zone to the Kaua’i County Planning Department. One department official said he was unaware of any public complaints about the work.

Case also said he once used a public right-of-way on the eastern border of the old Waiohai Hotel to get from the county parking lot to the beach.

But, the length of the pathway was cut due to the construction work at the resort, and there are no assurances the full pathway will be reopened to the public, Case contends.

Les Milnes, a planing department staffer, said the access is a designated public right-of-the-way and that the path will remain open to the public after the resort is constructed.

Staff writer Lester Chang can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 225) and mailto:lchang@pulitzer.net

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