City Council postpones action on Oneula Beach Park’s cement barriers

Samson Kaala Reiny

HONOLULU—The Honolulu City Council postponed taking action on a situation involving cement barriers at Oneula Beach Park until the next regular Council meeting on September 22.

Last week, an investigation by The Hawaii Independent into the origins of 34 cement barriers placed at Oneula Beach Park revealed that City officials did not follow procurement rules.

Kurt Favella, who is both president of the Ewa Beach Lion’s Club and a former chair of the Ewa Neighborhood Board, and George Grace, owner of Save Oahu’s Racetrack (SORT LLC), used tractors to place the old freeway barriers along both the perimeter of the playing field and near entrances to the shoreline at Oneula. SORT LLC had donated the barriers it received unlawfully from the City at the request of Favella.

Convening last Wednesday, August 18, Council members noted there were too many questions that needed to be answered.

Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi wanted clarification on whether Ewa’s neighborhood board ever got to weigh in on the barriers.

“It was on the agenda in January,” Favella said. He also noted that several attempts at bringing the issue into committee last year were unsuccessful because of infighting among board members.

“We couldn’t get to [deciding if we were] for or against it,” Favella said.

Councilman Romy Cachola said he wants the neighborhood board to vote on the matter before the Council makes any decision.

“I think you should go one more time to the neighborhood board,” Cachola said. “Otherwise, there will be fighting amongst yourselves. I want to make sure there’s more consensus to accept or remove [the barriers].”

Council members also brought up several possible discrepancies on both State and City levels.

Cachola called forward the City’s Department of Corporation Counsel and asked first about liability. He asked whether the City would still be legally responsible for the barriers even if the Council had not officially accepted it.

A spokeswoman said she thinks so.

When asked by Cachola if the City Department of Parks and Recreation was “out of line” by placing the barriers before the Council approved it, the spokeswoman agreed. This is in line with The Hawaii Independent’s assertion that, according to the Revised Guidelines on Gifts, a department should not use a gift before acceptance by the City Council.

Lastly, Councilman Nestor Garcia stated he would speak with the Department of Transportation to clarify the proper ownership of the barriers. Garcia said he had gotten wind just a few days ago that there was an ongoing investigation regarding some of the barriers. He then noted that Council Chairman Todd Apo knew of the investigation. 

“I just want to make sure that if we come back to this resolution again and actually accept the gift,” Garcia said, “that it’s free and clear of any suspicions that hover around this.”