I subscribe to The Garden Island e-news letter and read it almost daily to keep up on what is happening on Kauai.
As background, I don’t live in Hawaii, nor do I own any real estate, timeshare, etc. I simply come visit about once a year and I only leave money behind and take memories home. I’ve been doing this since 1973.
I have seen most of the changes on this still beautiful and special island and read with interest the concerns voiced in The Garden Island news.
I was just on the island for two weeks, staying in the Hanalei area. As much as I have read about traffic, crowded beaches etc. I found it not too bad. Given that I don’t venture far from the North Shore maybe I simply missed it but from my view the typical “crawl” through Kapaa is still a pain and has been for a long, long time. I was amazed at how few cars were using the bypass but then there isn’t a very good signage system to make the bypass obvious to newcomers to the island so somebody might want to address this as it would be simple and low cost.
The reality of the world is that it is getting crowded and more people have the money to travel and see places that are being promoted so the issues facing Kauai are not unlike what happens in other parts of the world. Managing this reality is the challenge for the citizens of Kauai and the people that you elect. It appears from my perspective that special interests get the majority of the decision makers’ attention so the voters on Kauai/Hawaii /USA need to pay attention to who gets elected and how they perform… Vote them out if the job isn’t getting done.
The other thing I get from “reading between the lines” is that there is a little of this “I got here before you” attitude. You’re not that special, if you didn’t realize that. The percentage of Hawaiians vs “others” is quite small on the island so that means that the majority of the island residents are from someplace else.
My thoughts? It is unacceptable that people can buy land on this island and simply close out access to wonderful sights. In 1973, you could get to the natural Slippery Slides and have a blast — those got closed off a long, long time ago. Now you can’t get to some of the waterfalls or the access to too many beaches is becoming impossible due to private property purchases that then deny access except by boat or not at all.
Given the tourism nature of the island and its dependence on tourist dollars, I suggest that your decision-makers come to terms with the reality and stop the private purchase/takeover of natural sites and their access and provide reasonable accommodation and direction.
I wish the people of Kauai the best and will continue to visit and watch with interest what happens as time moves on and I will forever cherish the memories of the earlier and simpler times on Kauai but, if you peel back the cover just a little bit, it’s still there.
Mike Fallis is a resident of Fair Oaks, California.