(BIVN) – Kona residents, testifying before the Leeward Planning Commission on Thursday, strongly opposed a 5-story condominium development planned for Banyans surf spot.
Kilohana Makai LLC is asking for a 5-year time extension to complete construction of a 5-story, 11 unit residential condominium on Aliʻi Drive adjacent to and south of the Kona Banyan Tree Condominium. A Special Management Area permit (SMA Permit No. 07-000020) which was issued for the project back in 2007.
Paula “Simmy” McMichael and Keawe Alapai – two residents with deep, cultural ties to the area – were granted standing on Thursday in a contested case hearing that will be held in the matter.
“This area should be the public beach,” McMichael said about the Banyans surf spot. “When you put a building there… This is a coastal high hazard zone. The ocean keeps tearing it up and we keep allowing them to build their walls.”
“This is our surf area,” McMichael added. “I have ran surf contests there for ten years. Six contests a year for the ten years. It is the best surfing spot on the entire island of Hawaiʻi. You would not put buildings on Oʻahu at Pipeline, Sandy Beach, 20 feet from the shoreline. This is our land.”
McMichael says the existing development in the area, which includes seawalls, has already had an impact on the surf spot. “Because they keep eroding our shoreline, we no longer have the inside wave,” she said. “And the inside wave – you can put keikis, little keikis, there to surf with their kupuna and mothers. But now, you don’t have it. At Banyan’s, you really have to be an advanced surfer to surf there now. They’ve changed our waves.”
This page will be updated to include video clips of the public testimonies in opposition to the development. No one testified in favor, although the Leeward Planning Commission proceeding was held only to determine the standing for the contested case petitions.