Kailua Survey Prompts Response from 1 Out of 4 Households—Here Are the Results

Large landowner Alexander & Baldwin gets an earful on traffic, tourism, trust and preserving the Pali Lanes bowling alley.
Alexander & Baldwin came under fire from Kailua residents this year when they announced plans to knock down Pali Lanes. Now it’s reevaluating.


A recent survey says Kailua residents worry about tourism, traffic and their increasingly crowded small town, and that many distrust Alexander & Baldwin, the large landowner that sent the questionnaire.


Those are the central themes that emerged from the just-released results of the 18-question survey, which the company mailed this week to nearly 16,000 Kailua households queried in September.


Five years after taking control of most commercial property in the Windward O‘ahu town of about 53,000 residents, A&B is facing increasingly vocal complaints about its redevelopment, the growing influx of tourists and a plan to demolish the Pali Lanes bowling alley to build “a gathering place.”


Along with a survey results summary, A&B officials sent a letter explaining that the company has slowed its roll on development plans after hearing complaints from the community.


The letter says: “We put our development plans in Kailua Town on hold while we undertook a comprehensive effort to learn as much as possible about what residents think about Kailua.” It’s signed by Chris Benjamin, the company’s president and CEO, and Sheila-Anne Ebert, the manager of A&B’s Kailua properties.


Officials thanked residents for sending 4,490 responses. Ward Research, the company that A&B hired to conduct the survey, described the numbers as “an exceptional response” of more than 28 percent of those who received the survey.


The A&B letter acknowledged that the company needs to listen more: “Kailua residents are greatly concerned about the impacts of increasing traffic, crowding and tourism. We learned that some residents question whether they can trust A&B.”


A&B goes on to say it is taking the feedback to heart: “While some issues are beyond our control, we will work more closely with the community and government to identify solutions. We will work harder to earn your trust and to share information about our plans in a timely and effective manner.”


After Pali Lanes was added to the state historic register last month, the company extended the bowling center lease for a year, until January 2020, while seeking more input. The earlier demolition plan drew protests, a 10,000-signature petition and complaints across the community, which appeared to surprise A&B officials.


“This is the last of old Kailua to go,” bowler Marvis Smith said this summer. “If Pali Lanes goes, then the whole thing is gone; there goes the aloha spirit.”


A&B is now promising to review alternatives that could include bowling as well as a plan to consult the community before making a final decision. It wrote, “Only through a more extensive evaluation and public presentation of potential alternatives can we truly find the right solution for the community.”


The company also emphasized a new dog park it is donating land for as well as commitment of $100,000 to improve pedestrian safety on Kailua Road.


Read the letter and survey results: kailuatownhi.com/survey