Commission tackles General Plan

LIHUE — In its newest version, the General Plan Update spells out ways to enforce policies.

“What we’ve heard from the Planning Commission and the public is that there’s a gap between the policies and actions,” said Marie Williams, county Planning Department community planning program manager.

On Tuesday, Williams presented proposed changes to the General Plan Update to the Planning Commission.

In addition to writing in enforcement measures, edits include adding an index and actions pertaining to lowland forest restoration and improvements to the drainage section, Williams said.

The General Plan, which contains everything from protecting Kauai’s beauty and the watersheds to addressing Kapaa traffic and designing healthy and complete neighborhoods, serves as a blueprint for the future of Kauai.

It was last updated in 2000.

A 357-page updated discussion draft was released in November after 18 months of public outreach.

Mike Dahilig, planning director, said the department is listening to the public’s calls for action in the General Plan Update.

Several Kauai residents said the General Plan needs to address ways to mitigate the growing tourism population, protect the environment and bring more affordable-housing options to Kauai.

“I came here 14 years ago. I fell in love with the culture and the people. What I love most about the island is ohana,” said Bob Cox. “I speak today as a father and a grandfather. My children have to leave the island because they can’t find a place to live. They want to have a place of their own.”

It’s a sentiment echoed by Wally Rezentes Jr., county managing director.

“I’m speaking today as an individual and part of the Wailua Homestead community,” he said. “Affordable housing is needed in all parts of the island. I have three kids. I’m hoping at least one of them will be able to afford to live on this beautiful island.”

Gabriela Taylor, who has lived on Kauai for 43 years, said the General Plan needs to address enforceable ways to protect the environment.

“Nature, our most important resource, is being threatened,” she said. “Steps must be taken to identify, create solutions and enforce the law. Vehicles park and drive on our beaches. It’s a travesty. It’s important for us to be stewards of our beaches.”

She also pointed to the large tourism population.

“The insufficient parking at Kee Beach has resulted in shuttling. How much can we stand? Tourism should be regulated.”

Commissioner Kanoe Ahuna asked the Planning Commission be able to track the changes made in the General Plan drafts.

“Because there have been several revisions, will we receive a full draft with all the changes before approval?” she asked.

The Planning Commission asked the department to prepare a printed and digital copy of the plan to track the changes.

The commission will take up the General Plan Update again on March 28.

Once the update gets approval from the Planning Commission, it will go to the Kauai County Council.

Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura told the commissioners not to make a hurried decision.

“The new General Plan being birthed is the most important planning document in the county. It’s meant to guide the growth and development of our island for the next 20 years,” she said. “Do not pass on this document until it is well written and easy to understand, has vetted and integrated the complex issues facing the county and provides clear long-range guidance.”

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