The Kakaina subdivision in Waimanalo is a residential homestead project that was initially designed as a 44 home subdivision to be constructed on lands that were transferred from the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) to the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL) in February 2007.

When DLNR was the property owner, the land was utilized by adjacent land owners primarily as passive extensions of their properties. However, at least one resident retained a revocable permit (RP), a short term land disposition, from DLNR which allowed him to utilize the DLNR land for horses. When the land was transferred from DLNR to DHHL, all existing land use agreements with nearby residents were cancelled and everyone was asked to vacate the property.

As our department’s mission is to place 50% blood quantum native Hawaiians on lands we control, the DHHL initially designed the residential development to be compliant with City and County building codes and guidelines for transportation connectivity – the “complete streets initiative” –  along with area drainage improvements that would help to address pre-existing flooding conditions for our neighbors.

The DHHL project was discussed before the Waimanalo Neighborhood Board on numerous occasions throughout 2012 – in July Commissioner Tassill reported that the ground breaking occurred on the Kakaina project, in November the Board discussed surveyors being on site, and on February 11, 2013, the Board and the community discussed the ingress and egress planned for the Kakaina subdivision.

At this meeting, residents adjacent to the project voiced their concerns regarding possible increased traffic and parking impacts along Mekia and Poalima Streets, as these residents had been accustomed to living along a cul-de-sac with very little traffic. In compliance with the City’s connectivity standards, DHHL designed this subdivision with a primary access from Hihimanu Street, a secondary access from Kakaina Street, and a third access point, from Poalima Street. At this point, the design was complete and DHHL was ready to begin construction of the subdivision.

However, following the February NB meeting, on-going discussions with the community and elected officials led to DHHL’s consultation with the City to consider allowing the DHHL to close the third entry point from Poalima Street to allay the fears and concerns of our neighbors. At a follow up meeting in April called by the City with DHHL and the neighboring residents, the City agreed to allow DHHL to close the access point to the subdivision from Poalima Street. At this meeting, it was also explained to our neighbors that this would lead to the elimination of off-site drainage improvements that would help address some of the pre-existing flooding conditions, as well as delay construction of the project until the City approved the redesign of the project. Based on our neighbors’ input, DHHL agreed to redesign the project to accommodate the community’s requests. The subsequent subdivision redesign and the resubmission of plans for permit approval by the City created an unanticipated delay in the resumption of construction during which high winds and torrential rains buffeted the partially completed construction site.

Had the department not agreed to be a good neighbor and redesign the project, the project would most likely be completed by now. However, in deference to our neighboring residents, DHHL’s attempt to accommodate their wishes ultimately created other unforeseen impacts.

Throughout the process the department and its contractors have made a concerted effort to engage the community through on-site monthly meetings along with six bi-weekly newsletters that are mailed to each of our surrounding neighbors. Contractors have provided their cellular phone and email contact information so that they can be reached by neighboring residents at all times.

In addition to this public outreach, the names of neighbors who had project related construction claims have been forwarded to the contractor’s insurance company for claims processing.

The department believes that it has done its due diligence and continues to try to be a good neighbor and complete the project as expeditiously as possible pending the final approvals from the City.

Please note that the Kakaina subdivision is the second undivided interest community being built recently by DHHL in Waimanalo. The first was the nearby Kumuhau subdivision completed in July 2011.