Government choice?

The issue concerning Wal-Mart should not be about where we draw the line, but how we draw the line. The problem with “Big Box” stores is not that they are big, but what do they look like and how do they fit in with Kaua‘i. If we draw the line with a regulation that restricts size, then we limit our options. It is not a problem to have a big store in the lot behind the existing Wal-Mart; it would be a problem if a super store were built in Hanalei or Maha‘ulepu. The editorial in Sunday’s edition (“Big box bill … let’s breathe, people,” In Our Voices, April 29) is too simplistic.

It only addresses whether we draw the line or not as if those are our only two choices. We need to consider why, what and how to draw the line. It’s not about cheap chicken, it is about choices.

It is not wise for the county to legislate size. Does the government know what is right for us? How many shoes and what type of shoe? It sounds like communist Russia. “You vill buy dese shoes made by de people.”

We should address unwanted development or unattractive buildings in the planning department. How can they, with a straight face, legislate no big boxes after seeing the monstrosities they have recently put up for the county and allowed to be put up in Kapa‘a. Apparently the Planning Department allowed Costco to go up without attractive landscaping. They could have easily made it fit in better by requiring an architecturally pleasing design. I’d rather have Wal-Mart offer me cheaper groceries if I want them, than to have my government tell me I can’t have what can be offered.

The editorial implies price is the only determining factor. It is not just price, but price, time, choice, size and convenience. If big boxes stamp out competition then there should have been no more Menehune stores long ago. Sheesh, it sounds like the editorial was written by Costco. We are not “herding everyone into a few large stores,” we are allowing them to go to the store of their choice. Yet if we don’t allow large stores, then we might be herding shoppers to several stores until they find what they need. That just puts more cars on the road and causes more congestion with all the driving to and fro. We will still go to those stores when we need to as they offer specialty items conveniently. What does “giving us more room to breathe” mean? Breathe the exhaust fumes from cars making trips to get groceries at Kojimas, Big Save, Star Market, Ishihara, Menehune, Foodland, and Costco? By all means restrict where the building of large stores can be located and make those building them conform to standards of appearance and architecture, but don’t just limit the size, mandate some landscaping for Costco; hide the box with palms and beautiful plants. It’s not the size that destroys the ambiance, it’s the architecture and landscaping and location.

I don’t think Wal-Mart wants to build a Superstore because of anticipated development, rather they think they can make a profit from the existing market. So if we created the development (the horse), then we should let the superstore (the cart) follow. If you want to slow the development, slow the development, not the stores that must by necessity follow it.

• Paul Kelley



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