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HoKua Place talks grow heated

KAPAA — Tensions bubbled to the surface during a Wailua-Kapaa Neighborhood Association meeting on Saturday, where one of the main topics of the day was HoKua Place, a planned 769-home community behind Kapaa Middle School.

Voices were raised. Pointed remarks were made. Some attendees talked among each other while a project official discussed topics such as traffic and infrastructure improvements.

“I’ve got two lots in this place with money that I earned working hard like how you guys buy stuff, and I’ve had my butt kicked for the last 10 years,” said the project official, Greg Allen Jr. “If you can get people to stop having kids, if you can get all of the people from the Mainland to stop moving here, then we don’t need to do it, but that’s not going to happen.”

The 163-acre project now sits before the Land Use Commission, which is tasked with determining whether 97 acres of state agricultural lands within the proposed development should be set aside for urban use.

Some Eastside residents at the meeting mentioned one key concern repeatedly: traffic congestion.

“I think we all agree that this is the most congested area on the island,” said Kapaa resident Gabriela Taylor, who has lived on Kauai for 42 years. “This is the wrong place for that development, any way you look at it. The traffic is going to be horrendous. I’ve been very tolerant of the growth up to this point, but this could go over the top.”

As HoKua Place is currently proposed, about 97 acres of the development will be set aside for 36 10,000-square-feet, single-family lots; 50 7,500-square-feet, single-family lots; and 500 multi-family dwellings in four-unit apartment buildings. 

About 183 additional units, Allen said, would be assigned as affordable housing options based on current county laws.

Sales prices for the market single-family lots are expected to range from $216,000 to $316,000 based on the size and location of the lots, according to state Office of Environmental Quality Control documents.

Market single-family houses would be in the $650,000 to $950,000 range, while market multi-family units are proposed to be sold in the $250,000 to $350,000 range, depending on size and location.

Affordable multi-family units, meanwhile, would be sold in the $125,000 to $175,000 price range.

The key, Allen said, is integrating all types of homes together to create a diverse community where residents from all types of backgrounds can live together.

“It is the best location in Kapaa for a development opportunity,” Allen said. “If there’s going to be no development, I understand that, but if there’s going to be development, this is the best place for it to happen.”

Some residents question whether some of the homes will be truly affordable.

Kapaa resident Anne Punohu said she lives in a low-income housing development near the Olohena Road roundabout and worries about the availability of affordable homes.

“We have not had any housing developed for low-income residents here in 30 years,” Punohu said. “You have us extremely low-income residents right below you, and we have no opportunities to own up there because it’s not for us. To me, I have to say, it’s offensive.”

Other residents, however, say the affordable housing component will help provide local families with home ownership opportunities.

“We need more projects like yours,” Kapaa resident Kenneth Ponce said to Allen. “You know what, I welcome you. This is my aina — you know, I was born and raised here. We’re trying to fix some of the problems in the Kapaa areas from Kapaa all the way to Wailua because this is a bad corridor for traffic — we all know that. We all have to work together.”

For more information, contact Allen at gallen@harbormall.net or Hookuleana, LLC project consultant Peter Young at info@hookuleana.com.

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