Honolulu officials drop plan to name Sandy Beach for Obama

Other sites, including a rail station, remain under consideration

Plans to rename Sandy Beach after President Obama have been scrapped.

Honolulu City Council chairman Ernie Martin says the public didn’t seem crazy about the idea. He told KHON2 the proposal got a lot of negative comments from body surfers as well as Native Hawaiians.

Sandy Beach Park, documented as one of the president’s favorite spots, would have been renamed President Barack Obama Sandy Beach Park, an idea councilmember Stanley Chang proposed to Martin.

A bill to make that happen would have been proposed Wednesday, but not anymore after comments from the public.

“We sincerely appreciate those comments. It’s not that the president isn’t worthy of some degree of recognition, but perhaps we should look at other areas besides Sandy Beach,” Martin said.

FILE - In this Aug. 14, 2008 file photo, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama body surfs at Sandy Beach while on vacation in Honolulu, Hawaii. Two Honolulu city councilmen have dropped plans to rename Sandy Beach Park, a popular beach for President Barack Obama Sandy Beach Park. The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reports Councilman Stanley Chang and Council Chairman Ernie Martin decided to withdraw the proposal after hearing from the public. The beach is a popular bodysurfing spot not on Oahu’s east side. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)
FILE – In this Aug. 14, 2008 file photo, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama body surfs at Sandy Beach while on vacation in Honolulu, Hawaii. Two Honolulu city councilmen have dropped plans to rename Sandy Beach Park, a popular beach for President Barack Obama Sandy Beach Park. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

Martin says Native Hawaiians objected to the name change because, if anything, Sandy Beach should have a Native Hawaiian name. The idea also received backlash from body surfers who were afraid that the designation would bring more tourists to the site “as opposed to being just for the locals now,” Martin said. “It’s probably one of the best areas to body surf, not just in East Oahu but on Oahu in general.”

“I’m very happy that they changed their minds about that,” said Kaneohe resident Wayne Epstein. “So are all of my Facebook friends and everybody I know.”

“It’s basically like changing a landmark. It just wouldn’t seem right,” said Makakilo resident Shylo Quemado Moniz.

Those KHON2 spoke with say keeping the name Sandy Beach is the right move. But council members have another plan to honor the president.

One place being considered is in downtown Honolulu. Council members are looking to name the rail stop at the federal building after President Obama.

Another site would be in Kakaako, especially if at least part of the presidential library is eventually built there.

Martin says there would be no additional cost to do so, because these projects would already be fully funded.

So Bill 60 will be introduced Wednesday to allow the council or the mayor to designate a public facility to honor someone still alive.

Currently, it can only be done for someone who has already passed away.

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