Between a rock and a hard spot

LIHUE — A developer behind a 357-acre beachfront property in Waipake on Kauai’s North Shore wants to give the county public beach access as part of a trade off for a proposed residential project.

But the offer — called a grant of easement — doesn’t lead to a white, sandy beach.

It goes straight to lava rocks.

Facing the Kauai County Council is the decision whether to accept the offer or try and negotiate with developer Falko Partners for a better access point.

“When I comment I’m going to the beach … I don’t say I’m going to the rocks,” Moloaa resident Tim Kallai said at a meeting last week when the council took up the issue.

The council deferred making a decision on the matter until a site visit could be made.

The proposed public access to the stunning and remote Waipake Beach, just west of Larsen’s Beach, includes a mile-long walk from Koolau Road, which is OK with the nearby Kilauea Neighborhood Association.

But once reaching the shoreline, beachgoers would have to walk about 200 yards west following a narrow foot path with a 12-foot cliff to their left and lava rocks and the ocean to their right, which could present a potentially dangerous scenario during high-surf in the winter months.

Potential buyers for the 80 already-approved homes at the Kahuaina Plantation subdivision wouldn’t have the same problem. They would have straight access to Waipake Beach, a remote coastline frequented by monk seals, nesting turtles, endangered seabirds and occasional nudists.

Kallai’s concerns, as well as those from his wife, Hope Kallai, had much to do with safety as well as with the legality of Falko Partners having been granted years ago a subdivision on an agricultural parcel to allow 80 homesites to be developed.

A grant of easement is a trade off of sorts that the public gains from a development project.

Attorney Dennis Lombardi, representing Falko Partners, asked the council to accept the easement first, rather than holding the developer “hostage,” and then the two sides could work with providing an easier access point.

The council, however, deferred any decision to Nov. 13, pending a site visit. Council members wanted to find out if the landowner was willing to provide access over an existing foot path following the top of the beach rocks all the way to the sandy beach.

The Land and Farm website has the property listed for sale at $70 million.

“Fully entitled for up to 80 homesites with assigned tax IDs, Kahuaina Plantation is the result of a decade long entitlement effort. Low inventory, a rising market, and huge barriers to entry provide extraordinary investment returns,” states the Land and Farm website.

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