LIHUE — There is a new face on the Kauai County Planning Commission.
Kanoe Ahuna was sworn in Tuesday.
“Running for Senate really opened my eyes to the issues on the island,” said Ahuna, who ran for Senate against Ron Kouchi but was defeated. “I’ve learned a lot about Transient Vacation Rentals and planning in general.”
Ahuna was chosen by Mayor Bernard Carvalho, Jr. as the cultural and environmental appointee and takes the place of Angela Anderson, who resigned.
“I think the mayor saw me as a person who can have an open mind in regard to Hawaiian culture and the environment on the Planning Commission,” Ahuna said.
The Kapaa woman works to preserve culture islandwide by restoring sacred sites and heiaus.
She also has over 17 years experience in education in the public and private sectors and uses her background to promote Hawaiian culture.
Ahuna believes she will add a unique voice to the Planning Commission.
“I can bring more of a community education and cultural perspective,” she said.
Mitigating traffic congestion, especially in Kapaa and finding a balance between tourism and development are two of the main issues before the Planning Commission.
“Traffic is a huge problem, and a lot of it has to do with planning,” Ahuna said. “I’d love to find a proactive approach and look for solutions now, before having to deal with intervention.”
One way to do that is getting the community involved, she said.
“With developments like Coco Palms, there’s huge traffic concerns,” she said.
When it comes to tourism and development, Ahuna believes it is better to have fewer tourists who regularly return to Kauai.
“Tourism is huge here, and we want to give tourists a quality experience,” she said. “And having a large number of tourists isn’t necessarily a good thing. We want to provide tourists with quality experience so they continue to come back.”
Balancing the needs of tourists and locals is an issue that needs to be addressed, Ahuna said.
“Locals should always be treated as first priority because we’re the residents of the island and we need to have a voice,” she said.