City council moves forward with condemnation effort of Portlock beach gate
A battle over a Portlock gate blocking access to a beach path is far from over.
Portlock - A battle over a Portlock gate blocking access to a beach path is far from over. The city council is taking up the matter at next Wednesday's meeting.
This locked gate off 379 Portlock Road is at the center of this longstanding controversy. It leads to Maunalua Bay.
The Honolulu City Council, beach users, beach groups like Liveable Hawaii Kai Hui, and - according to the association's president - all but one of the homeowners in the Portlock Homeowner's Association, want the gate opened.
But the couple who owns 75 percent of the private lane that leads to the gate want it locked, and did so themselves last May. Bert Dohmen and his wife Santy live right next to it. "We have drug parties at the tip of the lane, homeless people, even a visit of three MS-13 gang members."
Dohmen won't go on camera because he says he's afraid for his safety; the issue has inflamed tempers. He says he also owns the sandy footpath leading to the ocean.
"All the beaches in Hawaii are public. There is no law requiring a private citizen to give access over his private property for people to get to the ocean," he says, citing UH law professor David Callies, an expert on land use.
There are other 22 other public lanes for beach access. Dohmen says the public should use those. KITV4 asked, "If 22 other people said what you said, 'Go to someone else's lane, not in my backyard,' then there would be no beach access." Dohmen replied, "'If' is such a big word. It isn't happening. It hasn't happened all these years."
Dohmen also insists this is politically motivated. "This whole thing is not about access. It's about a ploy by a candidate, Trevor Ozawa, trying to use taxpayer money to get reelected." Ozawa, who narrowly kept his seat in the November general election, denies that.
The city council in 1998 also took up the issue. Councilman John Yoshimura fought it and lost. Dohmen accuses Yoshimura of also gunning for votes.
The city informed Dohmen via certified mail in a letter dated November 14 that it is starting the process of taking the easement back, citing public domain. Resolution 18-263 is on the council's Wednesday agenda as "Eminent domain of a pedestrian easement for public use... Providing for the acquisition of a pedestrian easement for public use, to wit: Portlock Road Beach Access Easement, situate at Maunalua, Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii, and determining and declaring the necessity of the acquisition thereof by eminent domain."
Dohmen says he plans, once again, to fight it. He also wants it known that he's not alone in this battle. "You have no idea how many calls and emails I have received from people backing me up," he e-mailed.
He says he didn't want to provide any of his individual supporter's names without their permission first, and didn't respond yet (as of Thursday's air time) for our request for names of any groups or organizations that back his position.
Related: Click here for a city map of public right of ways: http://cchnl.maps.arcgis.com/apps/OnePane/gpx/index.html?appid=0389a0d1ba8642af8f82832d0d25fdc0&webmap=bb2692cf44564637b072fcac2a1bf095