March 27 2013

Oahu, Hawaii’s Green Buffers: For Private Interest or the Public Good?

High-income residential and resort communities line Oahu’s most beautiful beaches:

  • Along the North Shore;
  • Near Kailua and Lanikai Beaches (where President Obama and his family vacationed this winter);
  • Near Waialae Beah Park.

Property owners in these and other areas have used greenery, including fast-growing vines and shrubbery, to obscure public easements. This trick of landscape design stokes the ire of neighbors and other islanders who previously enjoyed unencumbered access to the beaches. The overflowing trashcan near one public right-of-way, pictured below, gives an idea of homeowners’ reasons for concealing these entrances: garbage, noise, crime, and vagrancy.

An Overflowing Garbage Can along a Right-of-way to Ehukai Beach Park on the North Shore

An Overflowing Garbage Can along a Right-of-way to Ehukai Beach Park on the North Shore

In another case, a pedestrian path runs parallel to oceanfront homes that line the North Shore near Waimea Bay, Ehukai Beach Park and its famed Banzai Pipeline, and Sunset Beach. This thoroughfare epitomizes how landscape architecture can mollify tensions between residents and beach-goers. During the winter, when the North Shore hosts a series of surfing competitions, including the renowned Vans Triple Crown, spectators park anywhere and everywhere. The oceanfront pedestrian path, however, acts as a buffer between residences, their private driveways, and the shoulder of Kamehameha Highway, where most beach-goers park their cars. This green buffer effectively manages pedestrian traffic and limits incursions onto private property.

Pedestrian Path along the North Shore, Extending Roughly from Sunset Beach to Waimea Bay

Pedestrian Path along the North Shore, Extending Roughly from Sunset Beach to Waimea Bay

Has landscape architecture ameliorated public-private conflicts where you live? How might planners create green buffers between private and public areas in your neighborhood? How can these buffers protect landowners’ privacy without encumbering public access to shared spaces? Comment here or on Twitter!

Credits: Photographs by Sunny Menozzi. Data linked to sources.

Sunny Menozzi

Sunny Menozzi's military duties have taken her to diverse and exciting places, from Singapore to Arizona, South Korea to Afghanistan, and North Carolina to Hawaii. Sunny's travels inspired her interest in cities, especially how they function, the impact of the built environment on the residents, the methods planners employ to shape natural features, and the vibrancy that can be cultivated by good planning and design. She will begin her pursuit of a master's degree at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the fall of 2013. Sunny plans to focus on reuse and historic preservation, community-building, and economic and environmental sustainability. She hopes to contribute to projects that repurpose military bases. An avid runner, Sunny is interested in the design of recreational trails and policies that encourage the development of walkable communities. She holds a B.S. in International Relations and Russian from the United States Military Academy at West Point.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, March 27th, 2013 at 9:07 am and is filed under Landscape Architecture, Urban Planning and Design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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