Housing development will worsen Kapaa traffic

We, the residents of Kapaa and points north need help. The quality of life in our small community is degrading rapidly, drowning in a sea of traffic as we try to navigate the “Kapaa Crawl” and things will soon get far far worse.

Three commercial developments are already under construction along the Kapaa corridor — including the reconstruction of the iconic Coco Palms. Add in the additional traffic from Hokua Place, and our already significant traffic will become unsustainable.

Businesses in Kapaa are already struggling because no one wants to shop here due to the traffic. Sea and I schedule our lives around the traffic. I’m retired. I can choose when to travel.

But Kapaa is the working person’s hometown on Kauai. Most of the people that sustain the hotels, restaurants, and businesses on the island live in Kapaa and have to fight the traffic every single day to get to jobs in Lihue and the Westside. And yet, we seem to be the last to get road improvements and the first to be ignored.

Does Kauai need new affordable housing? Yes!

But as most real estate agents will tell you: “Location, location, location.” Hokua Place is located along the most trafficked corridor on the island. One that has been suffering traffic backups and delays for years.

Add in that additional traffic and what you are creating is not affordable housing, but a massive traffic jam, a permanent parking lot. Until our traffic issues can be addressed, new construction needs to be put on hold or built closer to Lihue.

I spoke to one of the developers of Hokua Place while waiting outside to enter the Planning Commission meeting. A nice individual who seems honestly intent on providing housing for our growing population, although his idea of “affordable” housing is far more expensive than most residents can afford.

His argument about the traffic issue went along the lines of (and I am paraphrasing) “Yes, the traffic is unsustainable and Hokua Place will make it worse, but the only way to get the county and state to take action on the traffic situation is to make is so bad that they have to act.”

My answer to him was that this was akin to jumping out of an airplane without a parachute hoping someone will give you one on the way down. Lord help us all if we ever have to evacuate the area in an emergency!

I know that many of the real estate agents and construction trade contractors that spoke in support of the project have great hopes for the project. I know that we need the housing for our growing population. I wish that more housing projects, rather than hotel and resort projects, were being considered.

But hopes and wishes don’t solve traffic problems. Only well-planned and funded road projects can do that.

Until the state and county are willing and able to fund the road improvements we so desperately need, Hokua Place is the wrong place to build.

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Bill Peterson is a resident of Kapaa.

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