Honolua Bay Defenseless?
Much of this fear stems from conceptual development plans submitted back in January 2007 by Maui Land & Pineapple Company, Inc. (ML&P), which included a golf course, 40 luxury home sites and a surf park/cultural area overlooking the spiritually, culturally and historically rich surfbreak.
A frustrated chunk of the community assembled to argue that private commercial development would threaten the break, as the coral reef ecosystem has already suffered alarming decline. The Save Honolua Coalition (whose mission is “to maintain open space and public access while revitalizing the ecosystem of Honolua Ahupua’a through community-based management utilizing Hawaiian practices and values”) rallied to speak out in favor of official Preservation, and 16,000 people signed petitions. The battle appeared to have been won as ML&P withdrew their plans.
Since then, the community has taken an active role in forming a partnership with the landowner and other organizations such as the Surfrider Maui Chapter and the Save Honolua Coalition to help maintain those lands around Honolua Bay. Assisted largely by local surf photographer Damian Antioco’s (Dooma Photos) fundraisers, Surfrider Maui was able to address the drainage problems by tipping the road back to divert water that previously ran over the cliffs, down the trail and into the bay and fields. At the same time, Save Honolua initiated monthly and larger quarterly clean-ups, native plantings, water quality monitoring and other efforts such as installing day-use mooring buoys and funding two port-a-potties.
However, on August 2nd of this year at the General Plan Committee meeting, the Maui County Council reviewed the West Maui maps. Council Member Mike White, who represents Makawao, Haiku and Paia, made a surprise motion by voting to maintain the agricultural designation of approximately 139 of 270 acres owned by ML&P from Honolua Stream to Honokohau Stream. This left approximately 131 acres, including all the immediate coastline and the Honolua Bay area, unmodified, effectively removing the area from preservation. His motion was seconded and passed.
This is one of the most beautiful places on Maui and definitely one of the most spectacular surf breaks in Hawaii. This looks like an egregious attempt to develop one of the most pristine areas on Maui. Fortunately, the fight is not over yet.
“The battle is not over yet,” asserts Save Honolua Coalition President Tamara Paltin. “It is an election year and the public is just starting to mobilize once again. The Maui County Council will have an opportunity to make this right and re-vote on this matter. If you would like to help efforts, the Save Honolua Coalition has a plan with three options: 1) Motion to reconsider; 2) Propose an amendment; 3) Land Acquisition, Eminent Domain, Conservation Easement or Purchase of Development Rights.”