Fact or fantasy: Kauai General Plan

After a two-year process with extensive input from over a thousand people, the county Planning Department proclaimed that the recent Updated General Plan (UGP) document is built upon the following four basic goals: 1) a sustainable island, 2) a unique and beautiful place, 3) a healthy and resilient people, and 4) an equitable place with opportunity for all.

The UGP is all but a done deal, with only the County Council left to weigh in, followed by the stroke of the pen of the mayor.

The problem with this document, which is the blueprint for the future of Kauai, is that it doesn’t measure up to the four basic goals highlighted by the Planning Department.

Several residents have written to TGI Forum expressing that the UGP is superficial, has errors, will lead to more traffic, loss of agricultural land and of our rural life style, depletion of our natural environment, more resorts and inadequate affordable housing for locals.

Sustainable? Not possible when we ship in 80 to 90 percent of our food. One of the insightful letters published July 5 in TGI, by Laura Conrey, compares Kauai to the Galapagos Islands where the government takes measures to prevent both unsustainable tourism and immigration.

It states, “Population growth planning is essential for the common good,” and “Mass tourism is bad for the environment and local business.” Unlike Kauai, these guidelines have teeth and are adhered to.

I moved to Kauai in 1974 when there were no stoplights on the highway. It was aquamarine ocean and lush emerald nature that captivated me, as well as the laid-back local life style and the Hawaiian culture. Since then, I’ve never thought of living anywhere else and consider it a privilege to make my home here.

When you love something, it’s only natural to take care of it. We are the stewards of this magnificent island, which is being threatened by overpopulation and tourism that stresses our roads, water, sewage, landfill and nature. The coral is dead or dying, and the rate of bird species extinction, record- breaking.

On top of it all, do you know that 40 percent of all new houses are purchased by Mainlanders and foreigners, because only they can afford them?

Why is the county giving out resort and tract housing permits (with no or minimal affordable housing) to developers — like candy to children? This is the antithesis of the above UGP goal No. 4, because, among other issues, housing isn’t affordable for locals.

It took me 70 minutes (normal 35 minutes) inching along on the Kapaa bypass at 1:30 p.m. June 6, to get to my doctor’s appointment (late) in Lihue.

My previous testimony at public hearings has focused on Kapaa/Wailua, where despite debilitating traffic, a 780-house development Hokua Place on 93 acres, has been recommended for up-zoning from Agricultural to Neighborhood General (aka Urban) in the latest version of the UGP.

With three new resorts already approved in the Wailua corridor, plus Hokua Place, there will be at least an additional 2,500 vehicles added to the congestion that will be minimally resolved by the few road remedies recently proposed by the DOT, to be in place by 2022.

In addition to the Eastside, both the North Shore and Westside residents have protested the up-zoning of land in the UGP hearings, to no avail.

Do we want another Maui? Visitors choose Kauai for its bounty of nature and laid-back life style. Please compare the four basic visions of the Planning Department to what the UGP actually says online. Web site: plankauai.com.

I’m asking everyone who loves Kauai to get involved before it’s too late. Just say “No. We’re not going to pave paradise and put up a parking lot.” Better yet, get involved.

Please join the Kauai Community Coalition, a grassroots group of residents already active with the General Plan process, by attending an islandwide meeting to help formulate a response to the shortfalls and ramifications of the so-called Updated General Plan.

Join us at the community meeting on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m., King Kaumualii Elementary School in Hanamaulu.

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Gabriela Taylor is a resident of Kapaa.

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