By NANCY COOK LAUER
Stephens Media Hawaii
The Windward Planning Commission unanimously voted Thursday to “demand” that representatives of an Ocean View swap meet come to its Dec. 5 meeting to explain what they’re doing to alleviate traffic and parking problems, or face sanctions.
At issue is a farmers market and swap meet located at the intersection of Hawaii Belt Road and Prince Kuhio Boulevard, a private road that is the only non-gated entrance into Ocean View Ranchos. The swap meet, held Saturday mornings, has drawn an increasingly large crowd, and parking has infringed into the roadway and a Hele-on bus park-and-ride lot across the street.
“They take over the whole roadway going in,” said Don Nitsche, a board member for Hawaiian Ranchos Road Maintenance Corp, describing how market-goers dart from among parked cars to cross the street, often in the path of oncoming traffic. “Somebody’s going to get seriously injured or worse.”
The corporation filed a formal complaint Aug. 9, after what subdivision residents described as failed attempts to resolve their concerns with swap meet owners. The complaint said the corporation asked the swap meet owners to hire traffic control for market days, to no avail.
“I’ve been to the swap meet and know exactly what you’re talking about,” said Commissioner Raylene Moses. “The swap meet has grown considerably. I see that and I see the safety issue.”
One of the conditions of the special permit held by swap meet owners Oceanview Partners LLC is that the Planning Commission can step in and levy sanctions, up to and including suspension or revocation of the special permit, if the permit applicant is unable to resolve any public complaint or has caused an unreasonable adverse impact on surrounding properties.
The special permit was first issued in 1987, allowing for commercial development on the property. In 2002, the planning commission amended the permit to expand the uses to include an open storage facility and farmers market .
Bradley Westervelt, authorized agent for Oceanview Partners, sent a letter that was received by the Planning Commission on Friday, saying no representatives could come to the meeting. Westervelt said in a telephone interview Thursday that all of the representatives are on the mainland, and couldn’t attend the meeting.
He said in the letter to the Planning Commission that the company had no control over “rogue vendors” who set up at the Hele-on site, although representatives frequently ask them to leave.
“Oceanview Partners LLC tries hard to be a good neighbor and resolve complaints with its tenants and the entire community,” Westervelt said in the letter.
That wasn’t good enough for several commissioners, who cited the need for parking on the permitted site itself, not on land about half a block across the street and below a rise that most market-goers are unaware of. In addition, commissioners said, signage and workers supervising traffic would go a long way to making the event safer.
“It’s the responsibility of the people running the swap meet to police and provide direction,” said Commissioner Charles Heaukulani. “If this is a problem and they can’t get a representative here in December, then we should do what we have to do. I am seriously troubled that no one is here today.”
Nitsche said the road corporation had hired its own traffic control workers as a test, and found it effective in controlling traffic. However, Oceanview Partners refused to pay for the patrols, he said, and the road corporation discontinued them.
“When there’s no direction, it just goes crazy,” he said. “We’ve had several meetings with them. … They don’t want to supervise.”
Email Nancy Cook Lauer at email@example.com.