Frequently Asked Questions
What’s happening on June 9th?
The State Environmental Court will hear the arguments for our request for a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO). At that hearing, we’ll present evidence and ask the Judge to grant a TRO to immediately stop the City from any further damage in Waimanalo Bay Beach Park (WBBP) / Sherwood Forest. If that happens, the trial will take place at a later time, but the City won’t be able to work on the project in the meantime.
What does the lawsuit consist of?
The lawsuit was filed in State Court on April 27th, asking the Court to stop the City from further destruction until it has complied with the law. Our attorney Tim Vandeveer said, “The plaintiffs in this lawsuit seek injunction to stop the conversion of this culturally and environmentally sensitive community beach park into a massive sports complex that contravenes State and local law. This community is committed to preserving the rural beauty of Waimanalo Bay Beach Park and protecting its unique ocean-based recreational opportunities for future generations.” Among other failings, he pointed out that the City didn’t do a Flood Encroachment Study for the development—as required by their own land use ordinances—without which people living in neighborhoods near the site have no guarantee against increased flooding.
Is it possible to read the lawsuit?
Yes. A full copy of the lawsuit, as well as the TRO, is posted on our website
, and also on www.SaveSherwoodForest.org
. (Go to their home page and click on “Documents.”) The lawsuit might seem like a lot to read, but if you scroll down to Count 1, Count 2, and Count 3, you can quickly get the gist of how strong the case is.
Why was the former Federal lawsuit against the City dropped?
The Federal lawsuit was voluntarily withdrawn by all of the plaintiffs because they were not getting relief in Federal Court (that is, an injunction from the Court was not forthcoming). Since the City showed no willingness to stop the work despite pending litigation, our legal team felt that there was no choice but to try another venue. The Federal suit was about the City’s previous wrongdoings, but since the filing of that original suit, the City has committed multiple new violations, resulting in new counts in the State Complaint.
Why are the City and the Mayor so relentless and adamant about pushing their project forward, no matter how many times the community passionately opposes it?
Although it can’t be proven yet, information from many City insiders leads us to believe that the City is fulfilling a Federal requirement for park space in order to qualify for Federal grants to further develop Waimanalo. Without destroying Sherwood Forest for a sports field, they wouldn’t be able to proceed with numerous other development schemes proposed in the area. For them, this project could be the key that opens the door to all kinds of dramatic development. This has never been about providing recreation for the keiki of Waimanalo. This appears to be about one thing—laying the groundwork for further development of Waimanalo. Friends of Sherwood Forest won’t just stand by and let them get away with the destruction of this sacred ground and one of the last lovely country places on Oahu. In the long run, we all hope to protect this important place from an out-of-control City government determined to destroy it.
Why won’t the City stop working in the area, when it’s known to contain human remains and historically important archaeological sites?
On more than one occasion, the City has resumed its bulldozing only to be forced to stop when iwi kūpuna
were discovered. The most recent find on April 7th (a fragment of a human humerus bone) once again confirmed what everyone has known for months: the Sherwood Forest area is designated a “Funerary” by the National Register of Historic Places because archaeological evidence shows it contains numerous burials. This entire property is also on the City and County of Honolulu Register of Historic Places as well as the State of Hawaii Register of Historic Places. The City has been working at the site again very recently—even after the April 7th discovery of iwi
. They failed to do an adequate Archaeological Survey and Mitigation Plan in the first place, before
they first started digging, trenching, and bulldozing in the area. The destruction of Sherwood Forest not only desecrates burials, but also erases crucial archaeological information about Oahu’s earliest human settlement.
Why wasn’t an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) done for this important site?
The Developer, the City and County of Honolulu Department of Design and Construction, prepared an Environmental Assessment (EA) after determining themselves
that no EIS was necessary. The lawsuit points out the inadequacies of the EA, and why we are calling for a supplemental EA or EIS based on substantial changes to the project and impacts on infrastructure and the environment since the original assessment was conducted.
Do endangered species live in the Sherwood Forest area?
Yes. The Sherwood Forest area is home to the Federally endangered Hawaiian coot, Hawaiian duck, Hawaiian moorhen, Hawaiian stilt, Hawaiian hoary bat, endangered hawksbill turtle, and threatened green turtle. All of these species have been observed in or near Sherwood Forest. Additionally, the Federally threatened Newell’s shearwater, as well as the wedge-tailed shearwater (protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act), are known to use the area. There is so little natural habitat left for these species; do we really want to remove more habitat for a sports field when there are already sports fields nearby in disrepair?
Why doesn’t the City just repair District IV Park, Azevedo Field?
Residents have long suspected that there are other development plans for Azevedo Field and that is the reason the City refuses to repair the gym or the irrigation system for the fields. The land was zoned Urban Parks but has since been changed to Agriculture, which could enable different types of development. The fields also used to be two separate land parcels, but have now been joined as one 25-acre parcel. This would be more than enough recreation area, so why destroy Sherwood Forest? In addition, the Azevedo location on Hihimanu Street doesn’t contribute to the traffic problems.
What, and who, is Friends of Sherwood Forest?
Formed in May of 2019, Friends of Sherwood Forest is a community group and a plaintiff in the lawsuit filed in State Court on April 27th, 2020. We are a collective of hundreds of participants concerned about the precedent the City is setting by their violations of the law and their use of demonstrably false information in their Master Plan, Special Management Area Permit, and Grading Permit. We are also concerned about the City’s lack of transparency and failure to communicate adequately with the community and citizens in general in the planning of their project. If the Mayor succeeds with his plan for Sherwood Forest, it will set a terrible precedent for all of Oahu going forward. Over the past year, we have raised many thousands of dollars to stop the Mayor’s scheme. To read the Friends of Sherwood Forest mission statement, click here.
What’s the difference between Friends of Sherwood Forest and the group called Save Our Sherwoods, and why were two groups needed?
While we can’t speak for the organization Save Our Sherwoods, their focus shifted some months ago to meeting and working with the Mayor. Their concern, as we understand it, was largely to discuss what should be created
at Sherwood Forest, and not as much in stopping the proposed development. Following the Mayor’s suggestion, they held a series of meetings in an effort to determine what people might want at WBBP as an “alternative” to the City’s proposed development. Despite these efforts, the only plan that is currently permitted for the site is the City’s proposed sports field. Residents have been subjected to numerous broken promises by the Mayor, and he has given no guarantees in writing that this development is stopped. In fact, the grading permit was renewed on April 3rd. Based upon the strict process for planning and permitting, and from their own statements, the City has no intention of altering their current plan or permit. According to City officials, they intend to move forward as quickly as possible with their sports field, and they plan to continue with bulldozing, trench-digging, and spraying herbicide as soon as possible. The focus of Friends of Sherwood Forest is to utilize all legal means available to stop the City from breaking the law. Friends of Sherwood Forest is a plaintiff in the current lawsuit filed in State Court, and Save Our Sherwoods was a plaintiff in the former lawsuit filed in Federal Court.
What does Friends of Sherwood Forest want to see happen to the forest?
We want to stop the destruction of the forest and return it to its natural state. If we succeed, then we would want the community—not corporate developers—to decide what, if anything, should happen with Sherwood Forest. We would want this to be decided by the community, not just a few unelected people hand-picked by the Mayor. If the community decided they wanted something else in this space—for example, a cultural or heritage park—we would be in favor of that. But as things now stand, there is no plan by the City to honor what the community might want. The City is intent upon building their sports field and parking lot, and they have not issued any permit to build a cultural or heritage park. Friends of Sherwood Forest is focused solely on preventing the City from illegally building a sports field on this site.
If I donate to Friends of Sherwood Forest, what will my contribution go towards?
100 percent of your donation will go to our legal fees for the current lawsuit
. Contributions are transferred daily into our trust fund (the Nalo Defense Trust), which goes directly to our attorneys who are working tirelessly to Save Sherwood Forest.
How can I make a donation?
You can donate by going to our GoFundMe page at Friends of Sherwood Forest Waimanalo Legal Fund
. Thank you for considering making a contribution. We rely on your generous support to preserve this precious natural resource in Waimanalo. We know these are difficult times for everyone, but we are extremely grateful for any amount you can contribute.