If you’ve surfed Jaws, or you’ve watched other people surf Jaws in web clips (99% more likely), then you’re probably familiar with the fact that the famed big-wave spot is fronted by acres of beautiful, open land. That land, 267 acres stretching from Pe’ahi to Maliko Gulch, is privately owned. And it’s for sale.
Until roughly a decade ago, this land was used to grow pineapple. But when growing and exporting the delicious fruit became economically unviable, landowner Alexander & Baldwin (the agriculture/developer powerhouse that owns about 87,000 acres across the Hawaiian Islands and a third of Maui) let the land go fallow. Now A&B is looking to make a chunk of change off their idle, unused property.
Many Maui residents, however, wish to keep this land free of any development. The space hosts endangered species and serves as a cultural, recreational, and educational space for its surrounding residents. And, obvious to most of us wave-obsessed beings, it provides a beautiful backdrop to one of the best big waves on the planet.
“Developers could potentially buy this land and build whatever they want on it,” says Torsten Durkan, Jaws local and Maui resident. “There could be more erosion and more runoff that could potentially damage the reefs around here and the ecosystem surrounding the reefs. This land is beautiful the way it is. I’d hate to see it get commercialized and turn into the North Shore, where you have the Volcom House and the Quiksilver houses but at Jaws.”
Many Maui residents, along with the Haiku Community Association and the non-profit organization Malama Hamakua Maui, have persuaded the County Council to set aside $9.5 million of Maui’s Open Space Fund (established to preserve and protect special regions of the island from development) to purchase the 267 acres from A&B. The retail price for the land, set at $10.5 million, is still much more than the budget allows, but the Malama Hamakua Maui organization is raising money that will go toward the offer.
The issue is now in the hands of Mayor Alan Arakawa, who can veto the County Council’s proposition up until June 20th if he so chooses. If he does approve the proposal, he’ll then enter negotiations with A&B for purchase of the land. Maui residents, and anyone who enjoys all that the North Shore of Maui has to offer, are encouraged to show their support of the new budget plan by either setting up meetings with the mayor or lending financial support to Malama Hamakua Maui.