Kaneohe Ranch

Kailua can’t turn back hands of time, but it doesn’t have to lose its aloha

September 9, 2012
By Gloria Garvey
Honolulu Star-Advertiser


Here in Kailua, we have heard some reports of visitors being treated with hostility; even an incident of egging was reported. It undoubtedly has something to do with the passage, veto and override of Bill 11.

Bill 11 has turned businesses against residents, neighbors against neighbors. We are the Hatfields and the McCoys.

A cadre of longtime residents and a few new ones want things to stay the way they were.

Lousy selection of clothes at Liberty House. Holiday Mart vying for the filthiest store in the state. “Make Long’s the start of your day” because there was nothing else to do. Honolulu Book Shop where, heaven forbid, anyone could find a book that wasn’t on the best-seller list. Stinky bars in Kailua Shopping Center. Buzz’s not open at lunch. Precious few restaurants to choose from. Beaches with few people on them.

Periodically, Kailua threatened to secede from Honolulu. Frank Fasi laughed his way over the mountain with his fire trucks and ambulances.

Then, the famous Dr. Beach named Kailua the No. 1 beach in the world. The Castle family and its representative, Kaneohe Ranch, began sprucing up the town. Brook Gramann and I decided to open a store so we could make local products, hire local people and help feed local coffers (as well as our own, but that took eight years with no help from the banks). Others took risks and opened stores as well.

Barack Obama vacationed here, but not until Bill Clinton golfed with Ben Cayetano at Mid-Pac and got his “Hillary and Bill sat here” plaque at Buzz’s.

Kailua has been discovered. That’s what happens when you have a great place. Build it and they will come. Beaches got crowd-ed. Local businesses actually started to make money. We did it all without Baby Gap, Gap Kids, The Gap, Banana Republic, J Crew, Ralph Lauren. We don’t look like Carmel, Westport, Newport or every other beach town on the planet. Believe it or not, we still look like Kailua.

Along the way, we seem to have lost something: our aloha. When you have something good, inevitably you have to share it. In Hawaii, even Kailua, we used to want to share it. Perhaps it is too much of a good thing, and Bill 11 was only meant to stop it before we became Waikiki.

We still have our beautiful wetlands. We still have the Pillbox to climb to. We still have our beautiful beaches. We have bicycles we can rent in town. We have better places to shop, better places to eat. Kailua is now a walkable town. All within the same footprint.

Kailua is, and always was, a beach town. Now it has been discovered. We can’t turn back the hands of time. But we can be kind, and we can welcome our visitors and be glad they love Kailua like we do.

The greatest waterman ever to have lived said it best: “In Hawaii we greet friends, loved ones or strangers with ‘aloha,’ which means with love. Aloha is the key word to the universal spirit of real hospitality, which makes Hawaii renowned as the world’s center of understanding and fellowship. Try meeting or leaving people with aloha. You’ll be surprised by their reaction. I believe it, and it is my creed. Aloha to you.” — Duke Paoa Kahanamoku