East Hawaii News — Public Access Details For The Old Mill Beach Story


Papaikou Mill Beach trail altar. Photos By Tiffany Edwards Hunt. All rights reserved. Use with permission only.


Chapter 34 of the Hawaii County Code — available online via the Planning Department page of the County’s website at — states that shoreline access easements must be established for public use when lands makai of the public road or highway are subdivided into six or more lots or six or more dwelling units are proposed to be built as part of a development.

Occasionally, for subdivisions or developments with less than six lots or units, the County has negotiated or required a shoreline access easement by way of the “Special Management Area (SMA) Use Permit” required from the County Planning Commission.

The County can purchase such an easement using money from the Hawaii County Public Access, Open Space and Natural Resources Preservation Fund or the County can condemn the right-of-way (ROW), or easement, under the Right of Eminent Domain.

In some cases, a “prescriptive easement” can be established. 

Sign posted at Papaikou Mill Beach trailhead


In order to have a prescriptive easement or adverse possession of property or a ROW in Hawaii you need the following:

1. Use that is actual and open 

2. Use that is adverse to the owner (w/o permission) 

3.  Twenty years of continuous, uninterrupted use 

Sources: County Department of Planning and Office of the Prosecuting Attorney

— Tiffany Edwards Hunt

Papaikou Mill beach trail with old Mill in the background and concrete switchback in the foreground.


Construction of switchbacks along the trail in 2002.

East Hawaii News — Papaikou Mill Protest, A Photo Story


Sean Cambe and keiki protest access issues with the old Onomea Mill beach in Papikou Friday, May 14, 2010. (Photos by Tiffany Edwards Hunt. All rights reserved. Use with permission only.)

Accompanied are photos of a recent protest in Papaikou regarding the old Onomea Mill beach in Papaikou.  A story appears in today’s edition of the Big Island Weekly.  

Sean Cambe (foreground with keiki), John Shimasaki, and Conrad Estillore protest.

There is an ensuing struggle between old mill beachgoers and the property owner that accommodates access to the beach with a maintained and manicured trail.  County prosecutors and police and community members are trying to mitigate the disagreements between the public and landowners Charlene Prickett and Jim Waugh, who improved access to the black sand beach with a bonafide trail in 2002.  Traditionally, the public made their way through a decrepit mill.  Prickett says that 95 percent of her interactions with the public that regularly access the beach is positive, but the behavior of another 5 percent has gotten progressively worse.  She has periodically closed down access to the beach for trail maintenance, but also to send a message that their trail is a privilege and not a right.  Meanwhile, the beach-going public has grown weary of what they see as progressively more closures and rules for access — like no strollers or coolers, and no bicycles or skateboards with little to no parking near the trail as-is.  

John Shimasaki

Community members say, ‘what about infants and toddlers and strollers, and the need for water after surfing or swimming?’  Some community members want total freedom, the ability to come and go to the beach and to “camp” and “party” there.  But others are more realistic and say they would agree to a maintenance closure schedule in which everyone is aware of and agrees to ahead of time.

Some members of the community want to to work with Prickett and Waugh on the trail maintenance and even to assist in planting. A community garden was suggested. The bottom line for most of the people who showed up at a picket along the highway in Papaikou, Friday, May 14, 2010 is that the public needs access to the old mill beach and conflicts with the landowner have got to stop.  

Conrad Estillore


"I've lived here my whole life," said Robert Kamakahi, 28. "She's been changing the rules everytime. I can't take my dog to the beach. We used to be able to camp down there, party down there."

Marco Barrios

Letters — Participating In The Hāmākua Community Development Plan

Talk Story Training Flyer 08 09Aloha from the Hāmākua Community Development Plan team!

We want to make sure you are notified about the first way you can participate in the Hāmākua CDP.

CDPs are designed to reflect community values, vision, and priorities.   We are at the beginning phase of the process when core community values and people’s vision for the future of Hāmākua are established.  Those foundational values and vision will be identified through small group “talk story” meetings and from a survey. Talk story meetings are easy, fun ways to tell the County what you value about Hāmākua, what you’d like to see in Hāmākua in the future, and which ideas for the future are most important. Read more