Residents: Housing, planning need General Plan attention

LIHUE — Kauai residents say the General Plan needs to address affordable housing and future growth.

“I’m the father of seven and grandfather of four, with one on the way. I’m here on behalf of those seven and the families they are about to raise,” said Leonard Peters. “I want to let you know $400,000 is not what is considered affordable for my kids. I don’t see that improving at all if we do nothing.”

Jim Edmonds, a real estate agent in Kilauea, said he is committed to helping local families find affordable homes, but it’s difficult.

“That ship has sailed. There are no homes for them,” he said. “We’ve learned the term ‘affordable housing’ on the island has become a sick joke. There are no reasonable places to live on the island, so we’ve figured out the only way to help the island is build truly affordable houses.”

Peters and Edmonds were two of about a dozen people who attended a Planning Commission meeting Tuesday to put in their two cents on the General Plan Update.

The plan serves as a blueprint for Kauai’s future and was last updated in 2000.

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

During the meeting, several people spoke in favor of Hokua Place, a proposed residential development behind Kapaa Middle School.

The project, spearheaded by Greg Allen, will boast 769 homes, but was taken off the General Plan Update.

“It seems to be a much-needed plan. It seems that if we continue to say ‘no’ to any kind of growth or development, which is inevitable, we will simply be unprepared for the future,” aid Leilani Spencer, Kapaa resident. “If we continue to say ‘no,’ where will our people live? I’m not talking about Mainland transplants. I’m referring to our on-Kauai people and their families.”

But Bill Peterson, another Kapaa resident, said while he isn’t against Hokua Place, the project needs to be fully vetted.

“The current location is not bad, but until you can solve the existing traffic issue, you’re basically building yourself a parking lot,” he said.

When it comes to planning for Kauai’s future, John Moore, a member of the Kauai Community Coalition — a group of residents that took it upon themselves to breakdown the General Plan Update — suggested holding a vision summit.

“We feel that if we bring all the leaders of the state and county departments, as well as concerned citizens, we can come up with better, best practices solutions for our island,” he said.

The General Plan Update will be discussed again by the Planning Commission at the end of April.

“We all genuinely care about Kauai, we just have different opinions about how to solve it,” Edmonds said.

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