POSTED: 12 September 2005 - 10:00pm HST

Koke'e Reprieve by BLNR

"Kokee Waters" by artist Curtis Wilson Cost

Good News from the Board Meeting on Friday!
by Frank O. Hay for the Koke'e Leaseholders Association on 9 Sep 2005

On Friday, September 9, 2005, the Board of Land and Natural Resources in its meeting in Honolulu voted to:

1.  accept State Parks' recommendation to negotiate directly for historic preservation leases with existing lessees for cabins in categories 4 and 5 (about 40 cabins in total);

2.  reject the proposal to take 20 cabins and give them to a concessionaire for short-term or daily rental;

3.  reject the concept of a drawing, and instead replace it with an auction (for the remaining 60-odd cabins), provided that the incumbent leaseholder "have an opportunity to match the highest bidder" and that the highest bidder (if not the incumbent) "shall pay the former lessee the assessed value of the existing cabin".  These provisions will help protect our property rights and correct the inequities that occurred in the 1985 auction.

Here is a document in Acrobat Reader PDF (100kb) format that more fully describes Ron Agor's motion and the action taken.

There was considerable discussion, but the Board took no action on an appeals process or the ability to remove the offending deck (or window, sliding glass door, or French door) which may have downgraded particular cabins.  The Board was particularly affected by the tragic results of the 1985 auction and wanted to correct them, despite the so-called "surrender provision" (outgoing leaseholders fold up their cabin and take it away, or leave it for the State and the incoming leaseholder without a penny in compensation).  

Cam Cavasso's testimony was particularly valuable.  Representing the Waimanalo district in the 1985-1986 Legislature, Cam saw the errors of the Koke'e auction and helped correct them in time for an auction of agricultural parcels at Waimanalo the next year, so that the value of the leaseholder's "improvements" were protected from the "fire sale" chaos at Koke'e.

Our special thanks go to Ron Agor, for so effectively representing Koke'e and the island of Kauai.

Thanks also to Sam Blair and Carmen Wong, Donn Carswell, Cam Cavasso, Linda Faye Collins, Ed Holland, Paul Matsunaga, Rick Ralston, Jim Romig, Ed Wels, Meredith Whipple, Nancy and Dan Williamson, and David Bettencourt who attended and testified and to the many friends and leaseholders who offered  written testimony.  And a special thanks to Carmen Wong, who videotaped the meeting and transcribed the motion.  

It's not over yet -- and won't be until our new leases are signed.  Please note that the Attorney General must approve the Board's actions, and that the terms and conditions of the leases will be decided in the coming year.  We expect that the Board will authorize 20 year leases.  

We'll make more information available as soon as possible.  Check our website to determine which cabins were selected for direct negotiation and which for an auction (see State Parks' May 31 submittal to State Historic Preservation Division for a cabin by cabin assessment by tax map key).



Koke'e Action Alert! Land Board Submittal

7 September 2005 - 9:00pm

Park Headquarters building at Kokee

Koke’e Action Alert
Board of Land & Natural Resources Meeting in Honolulu
Friday, September 9, 2005, Beginning at 9:00am

On Friday, the Board of Land and Natural Resources will meet to set the direction for the future of Koke’e.  Agenda Item E-1 is entitled: Request Approval to Dispose of Recreation Residences through Direct Negotiations, Drawing, and Request for Qualifications/Request for Proposals for Concession Lease, Koke'e and Waimea Canyon State Parks, Waimea, Kauai.  The full submittal will soon be available at our web site

In brief, it calls for direct negotiations with leaseholders whose cabins are rated “4” or “5” (the “most historic”) and “contributing” to the historic district.  All others (listed below) will be subject to a drawing.  Although this list may not be complete, State Parks’ submittal on May 31, 2005, to State Historic Preservation Division [also available on our web site] lists cabins as not in the “4” or “5” categories. The list is available on the Malama O Kokee website.

At least seven vacant lots may be made available by a drawing.  At present, there are NO plans to compensate any of the leaseholders for their cabins.  Some of the EIGHT cabins under DLNR will be made available at a drawing.

The submittal proposes to withdraw 20 cabins [not yet identified] for short-term rental, despite the testimony of both Kikiaola Land Company [that operates The Lodge at Koke’e] and the former operator, Koke’e Ventures Inc., which operated the Lodge from 1983 to 2003, that such a proposal is impractical and uneconomic.  

What can you do?  Call your neighbors at Koke’e – let them know about this ill-conceived plan.  Write a letter to the Board of Land and Natural Resources and either email or fax it to or (808) 587-0390.

(Editor's Note: Out of 114 cabins, 47 are in the "Historic" Designation and will be directly negotiated with leaseholders at market value, and the cabins available in the lottery will also be leased at market value. This "market value" may make it impossible for many families to keep their cabins at Kokee, and may prohibit most Kauaians from the possibility of leasing them through the lottery.)



POSTED: 29 August 2005 - 8:00am HST

DLNR Chair ignores Kauai residents wishes

modified plan (without gate) provided by Juan WIlson include in BLNR approved amendment on Kokee Draft Master Plan

by Juan Wilson 29 August 2005

Peter Young is the Lingle appointed chair of the Department of Land & Natural Resources. In an interview with The Garden Island News Young reported that

"the DLNR leaders plan to put an entry gate on Koke‘e Road, and are looking to charge entry fees only to non-residents" (see article reproduced below)

This is not what the Board of the DLNR voted on in January after public pressure from Kauai residents indicated their dissatisfaction with the original gated plan. Could Young mean what he said?

According to Ron Agor, architect and Kauai DLNR Board representative, this was a mis-statement. Peter Young made a similar statement last week and Ron said he corrected Peter on the issue. According to Ron, the DLNR plans to collect a fee from non-residents without a physical gate. As far as I can see, how this might be accomplished without a gate may be no better than having a gate in the first place.

In any case, the DLNR scheme to raise money flies in the face of the overwhelming revulsion of a gate and fee felt by the residents of Kauai. In petitions and public meetings the vast majority of island residents testified that a gate and fee charged to visit Kokee was a terrible idea.

There was enough pressure on the Board of the DLNR that they included an amendment to their approval of the Kokee Draft Master Plan that eliminated the gate plan (see diagram above).

If the approval of the Draft Master Plan by the Board includes a gate and fee it means that the DLNR only pretended to listen to the people who attended all those public meetings.

Representatives of the DLNR will tell you that these design considerations are coming from the planning consultant, R.M. Towill Corporation. This is not the case. In personal conversations with members of Towill Corporation it was clear to me that the planning consultants were either neutral to or against the inclusion of the Kokee Road gate. It appears that Peter Young is pushing the issue personally.

The DLNR has shown itself to be a rogue government department acting as an agent of corporations, the military and its own private monetary interest. It is certainly not fulfilling its mission as a protector of the public trust - "malama ka aina".

After the high handed manner the DLNR has conducted the 5000 acre land grab by the PMRF on the Mana Plain and the development of the Kokee Master Plan we can only doubt the trustworthiness of Peter Young and his crew.



Juan Wilson alternative to DLNR Draft Master Plan

At the BLNR hearings in January, Juan Wilson submitted an alternative scheme for the entry and lodge areas of the Kokee State Park Draft Master Plan that was presented in Eleele to Kauai residents in November of 2004.

At the January 14th 2005 hearing, those alternatives (in the form of drawings replacing Figures 7-2 and 7-4 of the DMP) were included in an amendment to the motion to approve the Draft Master Plan. In addition, the wording of the amendment, as formulated by board member Ron Agor, included a verbal description of the alternative scheme.

The alternative scheme included four major elements.

1) The removal of a gate and security booth at the entrance of the park to be replaced by a Ranger Station and “Welcome to the Kokee State Park” sign.

2) The construction of a “Grand Lodge” that would provide overnight accommodations for 16 beds (expandable to 32) at the edge of Kanaloahuluhulu Meadow to be connected to the refurbished Museum.

3) The restriction of “visitor” traffic beyond the “Lodge” area. This would include a realignment of Kokee Road so that the “Lodge” area is the natural terminus of the trip up from Waimea Canyon. To accommodate visitors to the Kalalau Lookouts and trailheads the state (or a vendor) would operate electric jitneys as shuttles from the “Lodge” to sites beyond.

4) The preservation of the residential community in Kokee as the “Eyes of the Island” and friends of the upland forest.

An overview of the scheme is to transform the experience of riding up the canyon road and arriving at Kokee. It makes the Kokee “Lodge” area the real terminus of the trip. It makes the trails and lookouts beyond the “Lodge” and extra special event for the visitor. Something only experienced by hiking, biking or taking a guided tour. It does not provide “drive-up” access for rental cars to the trailheads or Kalalau lookouts. Elements of the scheme include:

A) Make the visitor feel welcome to experience the drama of Waimea Canyon without fees or restrictions.
B) Create an exciting and informative place of arrival for visitors to Kokee. Provide eating, sleeping, recreational and educational opportunities at this “end of the road”.

C) Operate a “Grand Lodge” with sleeping, banquet and meeting accommodations that fill be the architectural focus and terminus of the “road to Kokee”. This will be an income generating activity for the Park and offset the impact on the current residential community on visitor accommodation needs as seen by the Parks Department.
D) For visitors wishing to go beyond the “Lodge” area provide a “Station” as the starting point for hikers, bicyclists, or shuttle riders. This will be an income generating activity for the Park.

A crucial aspect of this scheme is the nature of the restrictions to private vehicular traffic that might be imposed. In my original “Lodge” area scheme I realigned the road leading beyond the “Lodge” area so that it formed a “tee” intersection with Kokee Road. I identified a sign at the intersection reading “Staff & Residents Only”.

The idea was to eliminate tourist rental cars traveling beyond the “Lodge” area to Kalalau lookouts or upland trailheads. I intentionally did not specify the definition of “Resident”. In my mind it might have meant anything from Kokee resident, Kauai County resident to State of Hawaii resident. That definition could be adjusted based on traffic, beginning with the least restrictive mode.

The intent was to restrict traffic on the road beyond the “Lodge” so that it would be safe for slow electrical jitneys, bicycles and and hikers as well as the limited number of “residents”. Obviously, the people living on the island want as few restrictions as possible to their movement. Their wishes and uses of Kokee need to be included to any balanced approach.

I personally feel vehicular restrictions can be used positively in environmentally delicate areas without violating the rights or interests of the public. For example, on Nantucket Island to drive on the beach it is required that you are a resident of the island and have a beach access permit sticker on your four-wheel drive vehicle. Violators are heavily fined.

Since January I have modified some details of the transportation elements of “Lodge” area plan. This includes separation of bus parking, car parking, jitney/bike routes, and pedestrian circulation.

Enclosed with this letter is a copy of the “Entry” area plan submitted in January and an updated version of the “Lodge” area plan. Note that if my scheme were implemented that the Kalalau lookouts parking lot expansion plans may not be necessary. Efforts at the lookouts instead would involve providing what would be needed for the shuttle from the “Lodge”.


TGI - Young: Visitors may pay to tour Kokee

by Lester Chang on 28 August 2005 in the Garden Island News

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources is leaning toward charging only nonresidents a fee for entering the Koke‘e and Waimea State Park complex, Kaua‘i's flagship state park.

At the same time, DLNR officials would like more new folks to secure leases to 110 recreational cabins in the Koke‘e State Park, but are still considering direct leases to existing leaseholders through new rules, and a state law requiring such action.

Peter Young, the chairman of the Board of Land and Natural Resources and state Department of Land and Natural Resources, offered those comments during a recent interview with The Garden Island.

Young was on Kaua‘i Thursday to talk with members of the County Council about DLNR's offer to have Kaua‘i County take control of state small-boat harbors, boat-launching ramps and piers on Kaua‘i. The intent is to give all counties "home rule" over such facilities.

The park issues Young raised are addressed in a master plan DLNR leaders and a consultant are working on that will determine the look and feel of the state-park complex over the next 20 years.

While millions of dollars are likely to be spent on new projects, and repair and maintenance some day, all of the work is to ensure the park remains one of the premier parks in Hawai‘i, allowing for protection of pristine wilderness areas visited by thousands of visitors yearly.

DLNR leaders plan to put an entry gate on Koke‘e Road, and are looking to charge entry fees only to non-residents.

Residents would not have to pay because, through their payment of taxes to the state, they technically have helped create the park complex, Young said.

"One issue brought out at hearings (on the proposed master plan), is that residents needn't pay a fee, and only the visitors," Young said.
In fashioning a fee program for the Kaua‘i park complex, DLNR officials have used a fee program at Hanauma Bay on O‘ahu "as a model," Young said.
Visitors pay for entry, but residents don't have to pay, again, on the presumption the latter pays taxes in Hawai‘i that were used to create the world-renowned beach park.

Many residents have raised the notion that funds raised at the Kaua‘i state park should remain on the island.

That idea could be implemented, but only in degrees, Young said.
"It is not likely that all the money will be used at a particular park where it is raised," he said. "But from my perspective, we need to allocate a portion, and a significant amount, back to that park."

Funds that won't remain with the Kaua‘i park will be used to support other parks in the state where entry fees are not assessed.

As a way to generate more funds for the state-park system, DLNR is looking to locate "mobile-food concessions" throughout the state, he said. The ones on Kaua‘i would be located at the Waimea Canyon Lookout, Polihale State Park, and at the Opaeka‘a Falls lookout, which is part of the Wailua River State Park.

Vendors will be selected through a bid process. Up to seven companies have shown interest in the Kaua‘i sites so far, Young said.

Interest in the Kaua‘i sites is high compared to that for other areas in the state, Young said. "For some facilities elsewhere in the state, nobody even submitted an intent to bid," Young said.

The bids will go out this Wednesday, Aug. 31, and vendors would be opening their windows for business at the sites on Saturday, Oct. 1st.

Traditional "lunch-wagon-type" vehicles or other vendors serving fine cuisine could be operating at any of the sites across the state, Young said.

The vendors will contribute to the maintenance of areas where they will sell their goods, Young said. Vendors will clean restrooms that are located near their businesses, and vendors who operate in areas where there are no restroom facilities will provide portable toilets, Young said.
"A complaint about our restrooms is that they are not cleaned often enough, so this is a way to get more cleaning done," Young said.

Young had comments on these matters as well:

The disposition on the leasing of the 110 recreational cabins in Koke‘e is still up in the air. The leases for those cabins and leases of other cabins were first awarded in an 1985 auction. Although all the leases expire by December 2006, the current lessees want to have their leases renewed. Having all the units declared as part of a historic district would allow for direct-lease negotiations between the current lessees and the DLNR, Young said. Typically, the cabins would have to be 50 years and older to be considered, he said. In issuing leases, DLNR leaders will consider both current lessees who have had the cabins for generations, and new lessees. Technically, anyone, including people from the Mainland, could bid on the leases when they become available, Young said. DLNR leaders would like residents to have the first crack at getting the leases, whether they be done through direct negotiations or by other methods, Young indicated. "Part of our discussion is ‘is there a way we can restrict it?'" Young said. "And that is a legal question we need to get resolved with the attorney general's office." The leases also could be staggered, and some would run five years, Young said;

Replacement of large-scale cesspools with septic tanks are ongoing at state parks, in compliance with upgraded requirements of leaders of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. DLNR leaders plan to replace the large-scale cesspool at Ke‘e Beach on the North Shore, and replace the existing restrooms there, too, Young said. Funding is available, and the work at the Ke‘e Beach facilities is scheduled to start next year, Young said. Having restrooms that function is vital, because they are used by thousands of hikers and visitors to the 11-mile-long Na Pali Coast. The bathrooms are located near the start of the trail.

New restrooms are planned at the Kalalau Lookout, and by the Fern Grotto in Wailua;

The renovation of restrooms in Koke‘e and at the Wailua Marina also are planned;

DLNR staffers are working with U.S. Fish and Wildlife staffers who are drafting a recovery plan for four endangered water-birds found only in Hawai‘i. They are the Hawaiian duck, or koloa maoli; Hawaiian coot, or ‘alae ke‘oke‘o, Hawaiian common moorhen, or ‘ale ‘ula; and the Hawaiian stilt, or a‘eo.


More Information
For more on this issue at check out -
Island Breath: Kokee Plan 6
Island Breath: Kokee Plan 5
Island Breath: Kokee Plan 4
Island Breath: Kokee Plan 3
Island Breath: Kokee Plan 2
Island Breath: Kokee Plan 1

If you have questions, or need additional information try the contact below:

from the state hired planning consultant -
Chester Koga
R.M. Towill Corporation

call (808) 842-1133
email to

To reach DLNR staff on this issue -
Lauren Tanaka
Division of State Parks
1151 Punchbowl St., Room 310
Honolulu, Hawaii 96813
(808) 587-0293
Visit the DLNR website at: