GPU inconsistencies troublesomeTo the Forum:

Incident to the current efforts to create a year 2020 Kauai General Plan there

has been a focus on the important policy issue concerning Kauai’s development.

The issue is complex, most of the public commentaries have been polarized and

an overview is hard to find.

The recently issued General Plan Discussion

Draft includes a Vision as to the Kauai that many people would like to see in

2020.

The Vision’s broad objectives call for preservation of the rural

lifestyle; and a diversified economy in which the visitor industry provides

30-35 percent of Kauai’s jobs (down from the present 45 percent) with a focus

on developing jobs in agricultural and high technology industries.

The

inconsistencies found in the plan applying these concepts are troublesome. Let

us consider one of them.

The Plan contemplates that Kauai’s population will

increase from the 1998 base of 56,000 to a 2020 range between 65,000 and 74,000

and that the average daily visitor count will increase from the 1998 base of

17,000 to a 2020 range which the Plan characterizes as “desirable” of

24,000 to 28,000. (It does not state to whom such growth would be

“desirable.”)

Assuming the relationship between jobs and

population remains constant and using the midpoint of the 2020 projections, the

bizarre and unsupportable conclusion is that a more than 50 percent increase in

visitor count will be serviced by about the same number (14,000) of

jobs.

Because of anomalies like this, it is essential that we give

attention to the critically important projections made in considering the land

use issues. it is fundamental that we must provide the accommodations required

for our resident population growth and for requisite public facilities.

It

is in the area of furnishing accommodation units for the visitor industry needs

that controversy is centered. While there seems to be an emerging consensus

that no new zoning should be made for resort facilities, at least until resort

occupancy reaches 80 percent of capacity, this reaches only a part of the

limitations which could be appropriate.

If it is intended to place all

unbuilt tourist accommodations under citizen control as has been suggested, it

will be necessary to establish limits on the 1,630 units for which zoning and

permits have already been granted and the 3,990 units with zoning but no

permits.

Such units, if built, and no others were, would provide a 2020

visitor accommodation unit population of 12,650 which is more than the 12,050

indicated as being necessary for a 32,000 daily visitor count with a 69 percent

historic occupancy rate.

If it is wished to control construction of any new

tourist accommodations, reliance could not realistically be placed on current

law or the practices of the Planning Commission and the County Council as

history shows that, while conditions may be imposed, granting of developer

applications is almost automatic.

Recognizing this, it has been proposed

that determinations as to new construction could be placed with the

communities. The problem here is that there is no law authorizing it, and the

plan only contemplates Community Development Plans “subject to County

priorities and the availability of staff and funding.”

In other words

any such program will likely be put in place, if ever, after the horse is out

of the barn. Another concept is to adopt an ordinance requiring voter approval

of all new hotel and timeshare construction.

Any efforts to impose

limitations on new construction will certainly be met with aggrieved and

organized responses from the developers and the construction industry who will

contend that their god given rights to profitably exploit their opportunities

will be harmed.

Those who would seek to take advantage of favorable

changes must be prepared to accept adverse changes.

Unfortunately the

General Plan Draft contains no specific provision about controlling tourism

accommodations. A number of the CAC members are concerned about this omission

but seem loath to take a stand.

One well considered proposal I have heard

is to adopt an ordinance imposing a moratorium beginning immediately and

continuing for at least five years on all construction of visitor facilities

except for properties now zoned for this purpose and having post-Iniki permits

to build.

After the five-year period, the situation should be reviewed and

any appropriate changes made. Perhaps this concept could get general

support.

Sadly, we should recognize that the General Plan process is

imperfect and one which protects the business as usual rights of our major land

owners and fails to implement the basic citizen concerns about the direction of

Kauai’s future.

If the residents of our island miss the opportunity to

assert their views in the General Plan hearings and in the next election the

price which will be paid is to see the essential nature of Kauai forever

altered.

Walter Lewis

Princeville

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