Coastal Bluff on O’ahu’s North Shore Protected (HI)

HONOLULU, HI, 6/27/2007: The Trust for Public Land (TPL) and the North Shore Community Land Trust (NSCLT) announced today the permanent protection of the 1,129 acre Pupukea-Paumalu coastal bluff, located along O’ahu’s famed North Shore. The City of Honolulu and the State of Hawai’i will each own separate parcels for natural resource protection and public benefit.

This acquisition comes after two decades of growing community support to protect the land. In the 1990s, Japan-based Obayashi Corporation secured the rights to develop a residential subdivision known as Lihi Lani on the property. The Lihi Lani project received entitlements for development of 315 lots, a sewage treatment plant, 50 affordable homes, a YMCA facility, senior housing, and other infrastructure. Community residents raised concerns regarding Obayashi’s project, and the proposed development was placed on hold. Unfavorable economic timing and corporate restructuring led Obayashi to place the property on the market in 2002, creating an opportunity for an unprecedented public-private partnership.

Knowing the property was for sale, the NSCLT approached TPL for its expertise in voluntary willing seller conservation real estate transactions. For several years, NSCLT and TPL negotiated with the landowner for the purchase of the property. Through the Surfrider Foundation Japan, a meeting was arranged between representatives of Obayashi and NSCLT at Obayashi’s headquarters in Tokyo. NSCLT asked North Shore resident and musician Jack Johnson to represent NSCLT at the meeting in Japan. Johnson encouraged Obayashi to consider TPL’s purchase offer. Community persistence and relationship building paid off.

In 2006, TPL and Obayashi signed a $7.95 million purchase agreement, even though other potential buyers were interested in the property. An unprecedented partnership between TPL, NSCLT, the U.S. Army Garrison Hawai’i, the Governor, the State Department of Land and Natural Resources, the State Legislature, the Mayor, the City Council, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and Hawaii’s federal Congressional delegation formed to raise the funds. The purchase price was assembled from the following local, state, and federal sources:

  • City and County of Honolulu: $1,000,000
  • State of Hawai’i: $1,000,000
  • NOAA Coastal Estuarine Land Conservation Program:$1,978,955
  • US Army ACUB Program:$3,344,445.50
  • North Shore Community Land Trust:$ 626,599.50
  • TOTAL: $7,950,000

“We want to thank Obayashi for working with TPL on this historic transaction. Although the project took longer than the average commercial sale, and a variety of complications arose requiring additional time to complete the transaction, Obayashi stuck with us, and worked with the community for a truly win-win outcome,” said Lea Hong, Hawaiian Islands Program Director for TPL. “We thank the State, Governor Linda Lingle, former BLNR Chair Peter Young, Parks Division Director Dan Quinn and his staff, Land Division staff, the City, Mayor Mufi Hanneman, City Councilperson Donovan Dela Cruz, NOAA, the U.S. Army Garrison Hawai’i, Colonel Howard Killian, the State Legislature, Senator Robert Bunda and Representative Michael Magaoay, the North Shore Neighborhood Board, the North Shore Community Land Trust, the Surfrider Foundation, the many North Shore residents and businesses that supported the project, and our entire federal Congressional delegation (including former Congressman Ed Case) led by U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye, for their partnership and hard work in protecting this tremendous resource for the public.”

TPL also facilitated the purchase of Waimea Valley in partnership with Hanneman administration, the U.S. Army Garrison Hawai’i, the State Department of Land and Natural Resources, and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs last year. In March 2007, TPL, the U.S. Army Garrison Hawai’i and the State’s Division of Forestry and Wildlife, Department of Land and Natural Resources, partnered to protect Moanalua Valley. TPL is currently working toward the protection of other areas on the Big Island and O’ahu, and has protected over 36,000 acres in the State of Hawai’i since 1979.

“We are deeply grateful to Obayashi, TPL, our government officials, and the innumerable Pupukea Paumalu community supporters,” said Blake McElheny, President of NSCLT. “Community dreams can be achieved when we bring people together around shared values for the benefit of the public.”

Al Itamoto, Executive Vice President of Obayashi Hawaii, said, “The North Shore community has shown true commitment in protecting this land. We respect and appreciate the hard work of TPL and NSCLT in making this sale happen for the public benefit.”

The purchase was funded in large part by the Army Compatible Use Buffer (ACUB) Program through the U.S. Army Garrison Hawai’i. Pupukea-Paumalu was the Army’s first ACUB project in Hawai’i, but is the third to close following Waimea Valley in 2006, and Moanalua Valley in March 2007. The partnerships and relationships forged in the Pupukea-Paumalu project were key to the success of the Waimea Valley project and future conservation efforts.

“This sweeping landscape is known throughout the islands and the world, and the Army is honored to take part in protecting it and other local treasures, like Waimea and Moanalua Valleys,” said Col. Howard J. Killian, commander, U.S. Army Pupukea-Paumalu, U.S. Army Garrison, Hawai’i. “The past has taught us too well that we need to be conscious of our deeds; change, growth and consequence are inevitable. We can shape a sustainable tomorrow, but only if we take action today, and that is what the Army is prepared to do. We will continue our efforts to work in partnership with local communities like NSCLT, under the leadership of non-profit organizations, like TPL, to preserve important natural and cultural resources, helping us to sustain our mission and secure the future, for Hawai’i’s generations to come.”

25 acres along Kamehameha Highway will be immediately conveyed to the City for use as a “nature preserve.” In the next several months, the remaining 1,104-acre coastal bluff will be conveyed to the State of Hawai’i for addition to the Park Reserve system. TPL will hold title to the 1,104-acre bluff until the NOAA federal funds and State funds are released, and the title can be transferred to the State. The State and NOAA are working diligently to release the funds for the eventual acquisition by the State.

NSCLT has raised additional money to work with the City and State to develop a community-based plan for use of the area and for stewardship. Given the property’s proximity to Sunset Beach Elementary School and the Boys and Girls Scout camps, it is hoped that youth outdoor educational activities can be incorporated into the future uses of the property. In addition, improvements previously built by Obayashi on the property offer excellent opportunities for native plant propagation and restoration.

“This acquisition will help O’ahu’s famed North Shore keep its country and rural character,” said Peter Young, DLNR Deputy Director. “We look forward to working with the community on a future plan for use and management. We can’t do it alone, and appreciate the community’s commitment of human and financial resources to this effort.”

“The City is proud to have contributed to the preservation of this gem along the North Shore coastline,” said Mayor Mufi Hanneman. “Thanks go to the hard work of the community, NSCLT, and TPL in achieving this vision. We are committed to working with the community on the future vision for this property for the benefit of visitors and residents alike.”

U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye said, “Programs like the Army Compatible Use Buffer Program and the NOAA CELCP serve the extremely useful purpose of protecting Hawai’i’s fragile environment. I was happy to support the U.S. Army Garrison, Hawai’i’s and TPL’s efforts to obtain adequate funding for these programs in Hawai’i.”

U.S. Congressman Neil Abercrombie commented: “As a member of the House Armed Services Committee and House Natural Resources Committee, I was glad to be a part of supporting protection of this jewel of the North Shore for future generations with money from the Army’s buffer zone program and the NOAA CELCP program.”

The Trust For Public Land is a national nonprofit land conservation organization founded in 1972 to conserve land for people. In Hawai’i, TPL works side by side with land trusts, community groups and public agencies to protect lands important to the people of Hawai’i.