LIHUE — In its update, the Kauai General Plan addresses everything from growth management and sea-level rise to social equity.
The general plan, last updated in 2000, is an important document because it serves as a blueprint for the future of the island, said Marie Williams, community planning program manager for the county Planning Department.
Additionally, Hawaii state law requires the counties to have a general plan, which mandates county zoning requirements.
“The General Plan is a policy and map document which sets the direction for how future growth is managed,” Williams said. “Therefore, the plan covers multiple topics.”
While residents agree there should to be guidelines to manage Kauai’s future, some raised concerns with the general plan, saying there is no way to enforce the ideals set forth in it.
“The general plan is a wish list that doesn’t really do anything,” said Kip Goodwin. “The County Council should enact ordinances to enforce it.”
Goodwin lives in Wailua Homesteads and has been a Kauai resident for 10 years. He believes the General Plan needs to address tourism and list ways to manage a growing visitor population.
“A line needs to be drawn. Tourism should benefit Kauai people, not be used as a vehicle to increase numbers,” he said.
While in California a few months ago, Goodwin said he saw an advertisement for Timbers Resort on Kauai.
“This is an example of how Kauai is being promoted all over the world,” he said. “They’re trying to bring over as many visitors as they can, despite what the negative effects might be.”
Carl Imparato, who lives in Hanalei, said the General Plan needs to acknowledge that tourism is growing.
“When tourism is growing more than your population, you’re not doing anyone any favors,” he said. “Tourism is valuable, but all things in good measure.”
Potential impacts of too much tourism include an increase in congestion on the roads, parking problems, affordable housing shortages and a loss of Kauai’s culture and heritage, he said.
“If you go down this same path, traffic, the quality of life is going to get worse,” Imparato said. “It’s threatening the aloha spirit.”
Imparato, a 15-year Kauai resident, said the General Plan needs to answer two questions:
w How much tourism is too much tourism?
w How does the county make sure it doesn’t exceed that level?
“I understand the general plan is supposed to be a vision and road map, but a road map isn’t any good without the rules of the road.”
Judy Rachap supports the General Plan, but questions how it will be enforced.
“I’m in agreement with everything the General Plan says. In essence, its intent is excellent,” she said. “But the implementation and the mechanics of utilizing it are questionable.”
Rachap, who has lived in Koloa for 16 years, said the General Plan needs to address the potential impacts a dairy farm will have not only in Mahaulepu, but on the Southside in general.
“If this was allowed to operate, it would change the lifestyle of the island in a negative way,” she said.
The General Plan update needs to address zoning to ensure that large commercial farming ventures aren’t going to be approved near local neighborhoods or businesses, Rachap said.
A draft of the General Plan will be released online today. The discussion draft is based on input provided during public-outreach events over 16 months.
“The General Plan is a consensus-driven document which must respond to the community’s desires, concerns and hopes,” Williams said. “The only way to accomplish this is through a robust public process which captures the diversity of opinions on Kauai.”