Letters for Friday • May 12, 2006

• Developers don’t get it

• Pono planning

Developers don’t get it

Councilwoman Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho’s excellent editorial piece regarding the non-bridge between Foodland and Safeway highlights the reason so many residents distrust developers. The 26-year-long pattern of delays and extensions — does anyone really think that the current owners, Passco, EVER intended to comply? Of course they didn’t — they are trying to “flip” the property, having owned it just two and a half years. The paltry $110,000 they offered up was meant to make it all go away. The next owners will run the same game — you watch.

There are two major problems I see here. First, why doesn’t our county do its job and impose fines on Passco? Just write up a legal document today, outline the violations, determine the fines and other legal actions, and mail it to Passco’s lawyers? Give them 30 days to comply and then shut them down if they don’t. Believe me — they will.

The second, much larger problem, is that the developers just don’t get it. None of them, NONE, have our island’s best interests at heart. If they did, they would simply walk away from their plans to add hundreds of additional rooms to the Kapa‘a/Coconut Grove corridor. What developer has said, “No this isn’t the right thing — it’s too much?”

No, they offer the promises of jobs and then kick in some cash and hope we bite. Well, let’s not bite, yeah? Guys — we’re not the Mainland, we have lots of jobs — some of us two or three. We don’t need MORE jobs, we need BETTER jobs. How many Kauaians are CEOs or on the soards of these major hotel chains or real estate development firms? None. They are happy to give us the $11/hr. jobs and then bring in their Mainland Posse to fill all the top executive positions — “The golf here is GREAT.” Yeah, aloha, buddy. Their programs to train residents to be chefs, waiters, bartenders, etc. makes me sick. Train us to be accountants, marketing executives, doctors and lawyers so we don’t spend our lives here working for your hotel chain just to pay our KIUC bills.

We shouldn’t be widening our roads just to make sure they only stay as crowded as they are now — we want to spend our tax money to widen the roads to make things better — so WE can get home faster to see our families and enjoy our free time. And we don’t want a coastal bike path that snakes through Kapa’a town so that 1/104th share timeshare owners on Waipouli Beach don’t have to see my fat butt ride by on a bike when they come here for one week every other year.

Developers are thinking about their two-year returns — then they are off for some new spot. “Long term” means nothing because they won’t be there. If it takes money to lube the gears to get what they want — they’ll do it ( i.e $12M to make our traffic only a little worse than it is now — mahalo, guys). If it doesn’t serve them, or if the county doesn’t hold them to the law, they won’t do it (i.e. 26 years — no bridge).

Our lovely little island will always be a target for these folks — it’s a jewel in the rough. With the value of real estate at all-time highs, we’ll have to fight ever harder to keep these guys from cutting and polishing our jewel into something that suits only their needs.

  • John Patterson

Pono planning

“Life on Kauai is being destroyed by traffic and overdevelopment … Building highways does not fix traffic jams.”

It can be added that “Fixing traffic problems does not fix overdevelopment.”

Development on Kaua‘i is out of control. It is not happening in a way that is either sustainable or desirable.

Some prefer to use the term “self-sustainability,” others, the term “carrying capacity.” Both point to a novel idea for Americans: an economy not based on growth — but a balance between people, resources and the health of the environment: something the Hawaiians called “pono”. An economy on an isolated island is a good place to build a model of “self sustainability.” Obviously, on a larger scale, all people are on an isolated island: Earth.

It follows that any economy based on sustained growth and an expanding population is doomed to self destruction by overuse of resources and/or destruction of its environment. It is time we stop defining ourselves as “consumers” and start thinking of ourselves as “sustainers.”

Back in the fall of 2004 began a process to update our Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance (CZO). At that time our mayor said…

“All CZO issues come down to growth issues. It’s about keeping rural lifestyles and characteristics with a growing population.”

Here is the source of many problems. Our planning and zoning should be designed to achieve and maintain a desirable population and level of development … not just accommodate growth as a necessity.

I suggest that the County Council immediately agree to fund an updating of our General Plan. The underlying philosophy of that update should include the goal of identifying and and achieving a desirable population and build-out of Kaua‘i with two important principles in mind.

• One: we will need to provide for ourselves for the bulk of the food and energy we need in the future.

• Two: we will need to rely on economic activity other than the tourism industry as a basis for economic health.

The updating of the CZO should be put on hold until the General Plan is updated. Moreover, the updated General Plan should have implementation strategies built into it and should become the binding control on development… not just an amorphous guide that is widely ignored.

Once the General Plan update is begun there are several steps short of a building moratorium that can be implemented to get things under control.

1) The Planning Commission should deny all Zoning Variances that increase density or intensity of use.

2) There should be no zoning designation upgrades allowed; e.g. Open Space changed to Residential.

3) The current General Plan should be strictly adhered to; e.g. no Resort Development outside of designated areas.

4) The State Special Management Area requirements being supported by the County; e.g. Require and enforce SMA permit requirements.

5) The County should not allow “after the fact” permits without severe penalties.

6) The Planning Department should deny all Additional Dwelling Unit (ADU) permits to units not attached to the primary residence; e.g. ADUs should again be attached ohanas for family members

7) The County Council should allow the ADU provision for rural districts to expire, thus cutting out a de facto 1/4 acre residential zoning.

8) There should be a 100% ban on Agricultural subdivisions for residential use .

We don’t think these ideas are extreme, and most are really just a matter of enforcing existing guidelines and ordinances. This is just a partial list, and we welcome more ideas on this subject, so please think about it and share your thoughts.

Some would say that these suggestions sound draconian and that applying them would wreck the economy here. Some individuals respond that being against “growth” in the economy is un-American.

My view is that Kaua‘i is already “overbuilt” for an economy with $5 a gallon gasoline. We’ll have lots of empty time-shares and hotel rooms when a barrel of oil costs $200.

We won’t see time-share owners jetting across the Pacific for a week in paradise when they can take a bus to the barrier beaches of South Carolina. Times are changing and we won’t have tourism, as we see it today. As a result we will have plenty of housing available for the middle class and lower income families when those visitor accomodations stand empty and the housing bubble bursts. What we won’t have is fuel and food. For more see www.islandbreath.org


  • Juan Wilson, architect

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