LIHUE — Growth, climate change, taxes and affordable housing were just some of the survey topics recently sent out by County Councilman Gary Hooser to 21,000 Kauai households.
In an effort to better understandresidents’ concerns for the island, his campaign group, Friends of Gary Hooser, sent a survey to households around the island. It allowed the recipients to answer anonymously, which gave them the opportunity to speak freely about their concerns, according to a release.
“My goal was to get community feedback on some of the hot button issues such as pesticide regulation and the dairy proposal, and at the same time get basic information on the degree of public satisfaction with parks and taxes,” he said.
Fashioning the questions was a balancing act, Hooser added.
“The challenge was keeping the number of questions asked relatively limited and frame the question in a straightforward and unbiased manner while dealing with complex issues,” he said.
Almost 1,000 people, from Haena to Kekaha, returned the 14-question survey, a 4.5 percent response rate.
It took about two months to conduct the survey and collect the data, Hooser said.
This is the first time he conducted a survey of that magnitude.
“I felt it was important that as a member of the Kauai County Council I reach out to every community in every corner of our island and ask residents from all walks of life to tell me directly what they thought about the important issues of the day,” he said.
According to the data, 52.5 percent of the people polled do not believe the level of taxes they pay is fair and appropriate and 74.2 percent think the visitor industry should contribute its fair share for county services, like parks, roads and lifeguards.
Given the choice between traffic congestion and road conditions, 71 percent of the people said traffic congestion is the island’s greatest problem. Additionally, 75 percent said they don’t support Hawaii Dairy Farms near Mahaulepu and 58 percent of the people polled said bed and breakfast and homestay visitor operations should be allowed in all parts of Kauai.
Given that the council just passed a bill that restricted B&Bs and homestays to Visitor Destination Areas, Hooser said he was surprised by resident support of B&Bs and homestays.
Hooser also said he was surprised that 91 percent of the population polled supported growth limitation tied to infrastructure capacity and another 91 percent supported farm tours as a source of income for small farm operations.
Roads and traffic, affordable housing and growth and infrastructure were listed as the top three priorities for Kauai residents.
As a result of the survey, Hooser said he is looking at ways to address some of the main issues. Specifically, he is trying to address the development and infrastructure capacity concern.
“Our highways are failing and we need to deal with improving our roadways before we even think about adding more cars to the gridlock that now exists,” he said.