Coco Palms takes spotlight at LBA meeting

LIHUE — When Kamuela Kapule O Kamehameha approached Kauai’s legislators Thursday during the Lihue Business Association meeting, he wanted to make one thing clear.

In his view, they didn’t have any authority over the Coco Palms property Wailua.

“I have the Royal Patent for land titles to Coco Palms,” he said. “How is it capable you guys are making decisions on land you don’t own?”

He said he would hold them legally accountable for their actions.

“I sit on the Royal Council. I’m a direct heir to the throne and a direct descent of King Kaumualii, his majesty, and her majesty, Deborah Kapule,” he said.

“The land titles are held in my hands,” Kapule O Kamehameha said.

Assured by legislators they were discussing improvements to Kuhio Highway fronting Coco Palms, not the disputed ownership of the hotel property, Kapule O Kamehameha said, “Everything I’ve heard so far is about money, money and more money.”

He said affordable homes were mentioned in the $500,000 range.

“Are you guys really serious?” he said.

He said they are feeding the homeless with the taro and sweet potatoes they are growing on their land, yet, his people are being harassed by police and others.

“I want know, how is this still happening on our homeland?” Kapule O Kamehameha said.

Senate President Ron Kouchi said, “Nobody’s talking about building activities on Coco Palms.”

He noted there were several people recording the meeting and said, “it’s clear we’re not talking about the Coco Palms Hotel site.”

Regarding Kuhio Highway improvements fronting Coco Palms, Rep. Nadine Nakamura said work could begin next year. Designs for improving the stretch from Kapaa Bypass Road to the Wailua Bridge were finalized.

“That project is in the works. They had issues going above or below ground utilities,” Nakamura said. “It’s going to be above ground utilities.”

Kapule O Kamehameha and Noa Mau-Espirito say they took up residence at Coco Palms over a year ago. The men have been joined by about 25 family members living off the land.

The men say they have a royal patent called Palapala Sila Nui, which they say gives their family the rights to the land in perpetuity.

They are claiming ownership of the historic hotel site targeted for a $175 million restoration. It has sat shuttered after being damaged by Hurricane Iniki in 1992.

Coco Palms Hui is in the process of developing a 350-room hotel with restaurants on the site.

Recently, a motion that would have ordered the two men to stay away from property was denied by Judge Michael Soong.

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