After receiving hundreds of public testimonies against approval for “Urban” up zoning of 97 acres behind Kapaa Middle School, called Hokua Place, Planning Commissioners, unfortunately overturned the sensible decision of the Planning Department to keep the land zoned “Agriculture.”
By the time we reached the fourth iteration of the Draft General Plan, it was assigned yet another zoning category, “Neighborhood General,” which is really “Urban Light” in disguise. Additionally, Kapaa would change from the destination “Small” to a “Large Town Place Type.” See: General Plan Update website: http://www.plankauai.gov
This means that up to 780 dwellings at Hokua Place would be built in an overly congested area, where traffic jams are common. A friend just told me that he got stuck in gridlock when vehicles in the traffic circle came to a standstill for 15 minutes. Add about 1,500 cars generated from Hokua Place to that route and you have perpetual gridlock.
If that isn’t disaster enough, imagine Kuhio Highway when 2,500 cars will be added to the Kapaa Crawl by 3, already approved, hotels ready to go up in the Wailua corridor: Two behind Longs, plus the Coco Palms. If it’s approved, our precious island home would soon become another Maui. I read letters in TGI and also hear from visitors who won’t return to Kauai because of the debilitating traffic.
Reasons For Stopping Hokua Place Development
1. Drowning in Traffic? The only road construction the state has slated for the next couple of years in the Kapaa area is an additional lane on the mauka side of Kuhio Highway between the Bypass Road and traffic light in front of Coco Palms. Yes, there’s long line of southbound daytime traffic backed up against that light now. But don’t forget that an equal jam of northbound traffic inches through Wailua and Kapaa, in the afternoon.
The county also has given the green light to build more housing in Kapahi and promote retail commerce, as well. Initially, the PO said that most housing would be focused in Lihue where plans are to permit residents to build an ADU next to their homes. Sadly, they abandoned plans to spare Kapaa from overdevelopment, despite traffic and diminishing quality of life.
2. Affordable housing a hoax? I recently learned that the huge subdivision under construction at the cutoff from the highway to Hanamaulu Town, has no affordable housing. Affordable housing was mandated by law in 2008 to be at least 30 percent of new subdivisions. But guess what? Not one affordable tract has been built on Kauai since then. Even 30 percent is a joke when you find out that 70 percent of dwellings are way outside the range of what locals can afford. And to hammer that home, please note that the median home price on Kauai is $730,000. That explains why 45 percent of Kauai homes are purchased by mainlanders or foreigners. If up zoned, Hokua Place buildout would have to include 234 affordable multifamily dwellings and the remaining would be 546 single houses. Who will buy those homes priced from $650,000 to $950,000? Clearly, such homes will attract more mainlanders/foreigners here.
3. Hokua Place negates food sustainability Ag. land is meant to grow food, not houses. Given buildings, pavement and GMO fields on Kauai, agricultural production land opportunities are slowly eroding. It’s clear that with 90 percent of our food imported here, we must grow much more food to become sustainable.
I implore you to help save our rural lifestyle. Please come with written testimony (12 copies) to the Planning Commission hearing Tuesday, or email your testimony to Kauai Planning Department, firstname.lastname@example.org by Monday noon. If we let developers suck the soul out of this tiny island where nature is our treasure, we have have not only failed our children, but we have failed Kauai. Let’s stop Hokua Place as well as stop any permitting of additional resorts on Kauai, and make affordable housing a priority. Enough is enough.
Gabriela Taylor is resident of Kapaa.