Parking changes to begin in Poipu

LIHUE — On any given day, walking and parking along the grassy, unmarked shoulders of Poipu Road can be a challenge, even for those who have worked or lived in the area for years.

“It really makes me nervous to walk down there, especially when I’m walking the dogs,” said Carol Ann Davis, who has lived in Poipu for over 40 years. “Sometimes the vegetation, especially on the mauka side, grows really high, so you’re forced to walk into the road at times.”

Changes, however, may ease some of those concerns after the Kauai County Council unanimously approved a resolution last week to establish parking buffer zones along several high-traffic areas on Poipu Road.

It was a move that some community leaders and county officials say is a step in the right direction to address a long-standing issue on the South Shore.

“We realize that it’s hard to come to an agreement, because on Kauai, we’re not used to having restrictions on parking on (road) shoulders, but to meet the needs of more people exercising, using bikes, and so forth, we need to think about the safety of our children and tourists going forward,” County Councilman Ross Kagawa said.

The resolution, according to county documents, will establish parking buffer zones on either side of the Poipu Road intersections at Kiahuna Plantation Drive; the driveway entrance of the Kiahuna Plantation Resort; the driveway entrance to Marriott’s Waiohai Beach Club and Koa Kea Hotel; and Keleka Street.

These parking buffers will also be marked with “No Parking at Any Time — From Here to Corner” and “Tow Away” signs that will be installed within the next few weeks.

“Our solution is not a solution for parking,” Deputy County Engineer Lyle Tabata said. “Our solution is for safety related to the premise of having enough safe sight distance for vehicular traffic coming out of driveways and intersections.”

Long-term solutions to solve parking hazards along Poipu Road are still being reviewed, Tabata said.

A community planning session conducted in May by the county, in collaboration with Get Fit Kauai, produced preliminary transportation plans and designs that will be turned over to a consultant to begin the formal design process.

County Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura said the county is also funding a corridor study that is considering a Poipu area shuttle service to ease ongoing traffic and parking issues.

Chris Gampon, general manager at Outrigger Kiahuna Plantation Resort and president of the Poipu Beach Resort Association, said he has been a vocal proponent of having no-parking area setbacks outside the resort because it would allow drivers to see pedestrians walking along Poipu Road.

“There are a lot of concerns that need to be addressed, but this is a great first step,” Gampon said.

Stella Burgess, spokeswoman at the Grand Hyatt Kauai, said placing the no-parking zones along Keleka Street will provide benefits for pedestrian and vehicle traffic.

“We need to work together to solve this problem for the South Shore, because this may be coming up in may other places,” she said.

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