Friday, June 29, 2012

Updates on Oahu Access Issues

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser ran a "Kokua Line" column today that answered questions about trash cans disappearing from Lanikai beach access paths, and the city's plan to post an online reference source for Oahu beach rights of way. (For Mainland readers, "kokua" is the Hawaiian word for help.)

On the former, turns out the city discovered it had been collecting garbage on "private" easements and decided to discontinue that service. Sheesh. Talk about dumb, shortsighted policies. By taking away the trash cans, the city is giving people an excuse to drop garbage and litter on those beach paths rather than carrying it to another public access trash can. That in turn will cause residents who live next to the private easements to say they want to put up gates on those paths that are currently open to the public because they're sick of picking up garbage!

Furthermore, the city already picks up residential trash on PRIVATE beachside lanes, so why can't they continue to provide that service on beach easements?

As for the online listing of public rights of way, the Department of Parks and Recreation says it has been delayed due to complications related to longitudes and latitudes in their database. Huh? What the heck are they doing? All we need is a simple map that shows where the public accesses are located! How difficult can that be? Instead, in typical government bureaucratic fashion, they make it a lot harder than it has to be.

Meanwhile, in the private sector, the same column says: "A book called "Oahu Beach Access -- A Guide to Oahu's Beaches Through the Public Rights of Way," was recently published. We'll find out about it from co-authors Katherine Garner and Carol Kettner and pass on the information in a future column."

No idea if there will be an online version. The authors had contacted me to request using "Beach Access Hawaii" as their book title, which was fine with me -- but I pointed out that they'd get more online search hits if they made it "Hawaii beach access" or "Oahu beach access" since that is the way most people would Google for info.

Here's the complete column from the Star-Advertiser:
Question: Why has the city stopped trash collection at Lanikai beach accesses? I was in Lanikai recently and wanted to throw away some trash and found a sign at the beach access at Haokea Drive and Mokulua Drive that stated the city would no longer maintain and pick up trash. There was no trash can and the sign said I would have to carry out any trash I had. I've lived in Kailua for almost 60 years and there have always been trash cans at these beach accesses.

Answer: It turns out that the city maintains only three of the beach rights of way in Lanikai and had inadvertently been placing trash cans on private access ways. The other rights of way, including at Haokea and Mokulua, are maintained by the Lanikai Community Association, said Miles Hazama, Windward Oahu district manager for the city Department of Parks and Recreation.

The inadvertent service was discovered late last year, after the department contracted a private company to maintain its rights of way. "At that time, we discovered that the city's trash receptacles were also placed at the Lanikai Association's private (rights of way)," Hazama said. "Since city resources cannot be used to maintain private property, we removed the city trash receptacles."

After that was done, he said the Lanikai Community Association placed signs at its access ways saying: "Please take all trash with you. No trash service at this beach access. City of Hono lulu will no longer pick up your trash from this area. Dumping trash at this location is a health hazard. Please keep our beaches clean. Mahalo."

Hazama said the city's rights of ways, identified by blue signs and yellow emergency numbers, continue to have trash cans.

Beach Rights of Way
We were told in February ( that the Department of Parks and Recreation would be posting a list of more than 80 public beach rights of way on its website. Turns out that was easier said than done.

"We're working on it diligently," a parks official told us this week. But, he could not yet give a date by which the list would be posted. The problem is a database that relies on latitudes and longitudes and general descriptions, which "is not user friendly at all."

"It's a work in process," the official said. "We're trying to come up with something that's user friendly and will provide people with the information that they are looking for in a helpful way. It's going to take us a little longer to put this thing together."

The list is tied to the city's beach rights of way where signs were posted to help direct emergency responders to people in distress. The plan is to post addresses, the identification numbers used by emergency responders, as well as general information.