KAPAA — When it comes to planning Kauai’s future, some people believe everyone — from government officials to residents — need to work together and take a holistic approach to prepare for the years ahead.
“It’s really important — there needs to be some overriding vision for the whole island because we’re way too small and way too connected to not deal with the whole picture,” said Laurie Quarton, Kapaa resident.
It’s a sentiment John Moore, another Kapaa resident, echoes.
“Kauai is an island and we’re an island ohana. We have to make a plan for our entire island family,” he said.
Quarton and Moore are members of the Kauai Community Coalition, which was formed in July after the Planning Department started hosting meetings about the General Plan Update.
The coalition was formed because some residents believed the administration wasn’t listening to their concerns, Moore said.
There was also a sense that the administration was focusing only on what they had authority over, a philosophy some Kauai residents disagreed with, Moore said.
“We need to look out for everything on the island, not just what is county government responsibility,” he said.
Over 90 people, from all over Kauai, are a part of the coalition, said Anne Walton, KCC member.
“I said, ‘Let’s bring all of the associations together. What would it look like if we all have one voice?’” she said. “We broadcast wider than just the neighborhood associations, but we wanted them to be the core so we knew each community would be represented across Kauai.”
After the General Plan Update draft was released in November, the coalition identified areas of concern members believe the General Plan needs to address, formed workshops and submitted testimony to the Planning Department.
The General Plan, which contains everything from protecting Kauai’s beauty and the watersheds to addressing Kapaa traffic and designing healthy and complete neighborhoods, was last updated in 2000.
A 357-page updated discussion draft was released Nov. 4, after 18 months of public outreach.
But the $1.2 million project started in 2013.
KCC divided into 13 working groups, which focused on specific sectors like transportation, shared spaces, education, agriculture and environment. They met nine times for about five hours in one month, Moore said.
“There are some brilliant, profound people on this island,” he said. “In this education we’ve gotten over the past year, where we’ve all gotten together to understand the responsibilities of Kauai and the state, some people really blow us away.”
KCC also suggests the General Plan also contains ways to enforce the policies addressed in the plan.
Mike Dahilig, Planning Department director, said the administration has taken some of the group’s recommendations into consideration.
“The group has provided testimony that our department has evaluated, and we have made some recommendations for change to the draft plan’s language based on their input,” he said. “We continue to work equitably and fairly with all who wish to participate in the process without providing preferential treatment to one group or individual over another.”
The General Plan draft will be discussed Tuesday at the Planning Commission meeting.
Members of KCC plan to testify at the meeting. They have three suggestions for planning commissioners: Don’t rush into adopting the draft; hold a vision summit made up of all the stakeholders; and accept their recommendations for the plan.
The plan will go to the Kauai County Council after the Planning Commission believes the document is ready to act upon, Dahilig said. There’s no deadline for the Planning Commission or County Council to approve the plan.
Even after the plan is approved by the Planning Commission, the coalition’s work won’t be over, Walton said.
“We’ll stay on it when as it goes to the County Council and as it goes into implementation, so I think this group is committed to ensuring that this plan is meaningful,” she said.