To the Forum:
Here is an
interesting question: Why didn’t the Planning Commission suggest Jimmy Pfleuger
give the Kilauea Neighborhood Association a visit to discuss his proposed new
subdivision before giving preliminary approval?
The KNA is one of the most
active community associations on the island, and the PC has an admirable
history of referring applicants for variances to the KNA before making its
In just the last 12 months many long and interesting KNA
meetings have been spent discussing schools, fruit stands, churches, bed and
breakfast applications, bike paths, and yes, even whole new
residential/commercial subdivision proposals.
Each of these proposals had
or might have an impact on the nature and quality of life in our laid back
rural community. Yet, one of the most visible earthwork projects in recent
memory — quietly pursued over the last few years and culminating in a berm
building blitzkrieg — has quickly received preliminary subdivision approval
without so much as a courtesy call to the KNA. How can this be?
short answer is that a public hearing for subdivision approval is not required.
Accurate, true, and irrefutable. But, ya know, I’ll bet somewhere in the CZO’s
there is some verbiage that gives the Planning Commission some flexibility in
The Citizen’s Advisory Committee recognized that lack of
public participation in subdivision planning is a serious omission in the
current planning process. The Planning Department and the Planning Commission
are well aware that the KNA is currently engaged in a community based, long
term planning effort for the greater Kilauea area.
No “requirement” for a
public hearing is one thing, but no public discussion whatsoever is another
Often it is only after sufficient public attention is
focused on an issue that some things get done, or undone. And with a
subdivision of this scale the public deserves to know what is going on ahead of
In this case, there seems to be at least four areas where further
information is needed, and without a credible public forum, there will be more
unproductive rumors and innuendo (and Letters to the Editor) than informed
The first issue, stream impoundment, is a state issue.
Among other problems, those beautiful new ponds gracefully stepping down the
hillside to the ocean were never evaluated for impact on native fish, or reef
runoff during construction.
The second issue is the county grading permits.
Why was so much work allowed to proceed without permits? We live downwind —
don’t ask about the dust! Are the permit fees so outrageous, or the fines so
ineffectual that any developer in his right mind would choose the
Third is the relationship between the developer, the Director of
Public Works, and the engineering firm now managed by the DPW director’s
Fourth is the issue of whether the berms are in conformance with
setback and height restrictions of the Department of Transportation.
the public, through the well-established and credible voice of the Kilauea
Neighborhood Association, has never had an opportunity to ask these, or other
Let’s be very, very clear here: Stopping this development is not
the issue. Private property and land owner’s rights to seek a return on
investment, are not the issue. Community awareness of projects that have
profound implications for the social fabric of the community is a major issue.
The Planning Commission should guide developers in that direction.
It is a
matter of the climate being created around development issues. If simple
courtesy isn’t expected of developers by the Planning Commission because it
isn’t “legally required,” then it isn’t much of a stretch to imagine why
communities get distrustful and stubborn when questions are raised.
are two other “high end” developments under way right now in Kilauea. I wonder
how many residents are aware of that, or the impacts they will most certainly
have on the community?
As the community watches itself being morphed into
a private get-a-way for Silicone Valley and L.A., how will the frustration get
expressed? Are the battles over beach access, viewplanes, traffic impacts,
stream degradation, etc., just being postponed?
This developer still has a
wonderful opportunity to leave a shining legacy — an example of how to
integrate, as contrasted to “impose,” a high end residential community into the
texture of Kilauea. With such a development, there are many advantages that
could be pointed to so the community at large may reasonably be expected to be
a good neighbor. But a good neighbor policy starts with simple
Confrontations usually occur when communication breaks down, or
is never attempted. Why wouldn’t the Planning Commission try to avoid that
scenario when such rich opportunities lay so close at hand??