There are many Kauaians who drive past what will soon become the Hilton Kauai Beach Resort, at Nukoli‘i off Kuhio Highway near Hanama‘ulu, on a daily basis, and are totally oblivious of the contentious circumstances surrounding the original building of the hotel there.
The site was a flashpoint for protests, arrests, two special elections that stopped and then re-started construction on the resort that opened as the Kauai Hilton Resort and Beach Villas, at least one legal challenge that ended up before justices of the Hawai‘i Supreme Court, and bitter feelings by foes of the resort development there that linger till today.
Before the hotel finally opened in 1986, voters at a special election voted to strip hotel developers of permits necessary for construction of the hotel, and a judge ordered the already-underway construction halted.
Then, a second special election was authorized by members of the County Council, paid for by pro-development forces who contended that the people of Kaua‘i did not understand what they were voting for in the first election.
At the second special election, voters approved a measure allowing developers to finish building the hotel.
There are opponents who to this day will not patronize the hotel because of what they saw as an injustice done over 20 years ago.
The Nukoli‘i development story made national headlines because of the property-rights and land-use issues involved.