“When somebody cuts off an access, you gotta jump on it,” warns Kaua`i County Council member Tim Bynum.
In 2007, the county lost a federal lawsuit over what it had thought was a public road through a 174-acre property called Tara Plantation, which was then owned by movie producer Peter Guber’s Mandalay Properties Hawai`i, LLC.
Because a previous landowner erected a gate in 1958 and the county failed to claim the road by 1978, it became a private road through adverse possession, the court found.
In December 2012, the county council passed a resolution Bynum introduced that called on the county’s Public Access, Open Space, and Natural Resources Fund Commission to pursue gaining at least a public footpath to the bay.
Little has happened since the commission’s first meeting of 2013, where Max Graham, an attorney representing current landowner Papa`a Bay Ranch, said a preliminary appraisal found that an easement through the property would cost between $5 million and $9 million. He also noted that the bay is accessible from Moloa`a to the north and Aliomanu from the south.
Some commission members “were taken aback” by Graham’s estimate and more controversial matters have since kept the commission busy, Bynum says.
“I’m meeting with the county attorney to keep that process moving forward. … It’s in process. These things take time,” he says, adding that he doesn’t believe the access will cost anything near Grahams’ estimate.
“It’s ag land. It’s not urban,” he says.