Residents weigh in on blueprint for Kauai

KAPAA — Ensuring a future for keiki, mitigating a large tourist population and protecting the environment are just some of the topics Kauai residents want to see addressed in the general plan update.

A draft of the general plan, last updated in 2000, was released Friday by the Planning Department after 16 months of work. It contains a vision, goals, policies, actions and land-use maps intended to guide Kauai’s future growth.

About 40 citizens attended a recent meeting at the Kapaa Public Library to better understand the plan and what it means for Kauai.

“I see growth as the body of an octopus. If you look at the octopus tentacles that reach from the body, you see transportation, infrastructure, including roads, power and water, tourism, nature and zoning changes,” said Gabriela Taylor.

Taylor, along with Laurel Quarton and Sharon and Kip Goodwin organized the meeting, and are part of a committee that is dedicated to helping residents get involved in the general plan udpdate.

The general plan addresses myriad topics and addresses ways to implement the plan and track its progress.

The two-hour meeting was led by Anne Walton, a retired city consultant and planner, who explained the 357-page document and suggested ways residents can take action on the document.

Kauai residents have until Dec. 2 to provide written testimony about the draft. The county will also be hosting open houses, starting today, about the general plan. But official testimony won’t be taken during the open houses.

“We have four weeks to look at, digest and provide comment on this document,” Walton said. “That’s impossible for most people. We need to demand more time at the open house. That needs to be echoing at every meeting.”

An appropriate amount for the public-comment period is about two or three months, she said.

The general plan is divided into 10 sectors — the watershed, housing, land transportation, critical infrastructure, shared spaces, economy, heritage resources, energy sustainability, public safety and health for all.

Each of the sectors have the same four goals:

• Sustainability

• Stewardship

• Health and resilience

• Opportunity

But there’s no guidance as to how to achieve those goals, Walton said.

“It’s pretty abstract, and there’s no target for what they’re trying to achieve,” she said. “They’re good buzzwords and are relevant. But they aren’t relevant if they don’t have a definition or a target of what they are trying to achieve. That’s a big hole in the plan.”

During the meeting, attention turned to looking at other cities’ plans. Examples from cities in Oregon and Maine were discussed. But Doug Wilmore said they don’t have to look that far to find an example of successful plans.

“KIUC has a plan and they’re moving forward with their goals. We have a model with measurable things of what they worked for,” he said. “If we want to look locally, we should use KIUC as a mini model.”

At the end of the meeting, the group agreed to attend the open houses and ask the Planning Department for a three-month extension on the public-comment period.

Islandwide meetings on the updated general plan draft are scheduled as follows:

• Tonight: Kilauea Neighborhood Center, open house, 4 to 6 p.m. Presentation at 6 p.m.

• Monday, Nov. 14: Hanapepe Public Library; open house, 4 to 6 p.m. Presentation at 6 p.m.

• Tuesday, Nov. 15 : Kapaa All Saints’ Church gym; open house, 4 to 6 p.m. Presentation at 6 p.m.

Comments on the draft can be emailed to plankauai@kauai.gov or mailed to Kauai County Planning Department, Attn: Long Range Division; 4444 Rice Street, Suite A473, Lihue, HI 96766.

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