Group sinks teeth into General Plan Update

KAPAA — Elaine Valois believes more people would read the General Plan Update if it was written in a way that catches their attention.

“The General Plan is a boring title,” she said. “It’s got to have another name to waken it up.”

The Kapaa resident plans to condense the 357-page document to 100 words.

“The legalese are hard to understand,” she said. “I want to write in it true, tough single sentences, explaining what this really means. People need to know the exact meaning of it.”

Valois was one of about 30 people who attended a community meeting about the GPU Wednesday night at the Kapaa Public Library.

The meeting was hosted by the Community Coalition Kauai in an effort to make the community aware of what they believe are short falls in the plan and what they can do to improve it.

“We need to know what the real consequences are,” Valois said.

CCK has broken up into different working groups, including:

w Spreading the word through community organizations

w Working with the neighborhood association to take a position

w A media campaign

w Coordinating testimony

w Coming up with an alternative implementation plan

The group discussed four main components of the GPU they want to work on, ways to get their message to the community and how to keep their momentum going.

“While there are many problems with the General Plan, we need to try to at least focus on a few key messages,” said Carl Imparato, CCK member. “So rather than talk about the 80 things that may be wrong, it makes a lot of sense to try to focus our messaging on a few key areas so maybe we can have maximum impact.”

CCK identified four main points they believe is wrong with the GPU.

They include a lack of policies to address tourism growth disrespect for community self-determination, lack of requirements for implementation and disregard for public safety.

“The first important message is that we need to have growth management, and the General Plan should have a policy that tourism related development doesn’t exceed our infrastructure, that doesn’t harm our rural character and doesn’t degrade county’s quality of life,” Imparato said.

Imparato, who lives in Hanalei, said county officials need to acknowledge tourism growth and that the tourism numbers outlined in the plan may not be accurate.

“We’re having 2 percent a year growth for the last 15 years and 4 percent over the last five years,” he said. “The question is right sizing. I don’t think anyone in this room wants to send the message that tourism is bad. We all prefer a calmer place, but it’s the about the right number and what we can cope with.”

Anne Walton, a Kapaa resident, said while the plan addresses the need to diversify the economy, it doesn’t give concrete ideas.

“It doesn’t come to any resolution about why we’re so dependent on such a volatile industry,” she said. “And it’s the same industry that’s creating an impact on resident’s day-to-day life here.”

The GPU was last updated in 2000. The update was released on Nov. 4, 2016, after 18 months of public outreach.

The GPU, which contains everything from protecting Kauai’s beauty and the watersheds to addressing Kapaa traffic and designing healthy and complete neighborhoods, was approved 4 to 2 by the Planning Commission on June 13. Commissioners Kanoe Ahuna and Donna Apisa voted against the GPU.

Sharon Goodwin, who lives in Wailua, is concerned the plan does not do enough to address watersheds.

“As far as all the people are going to move here, another consideration is the water. Where will the water come from for all these people,” she said. “We need to get our heads into this and understand it somewhat.”

CCK plans on getting its message out via a petition, social media, PSAs and rack cards.

The group has formed the slogans, “Fix the Plan” and “For our keiki, for our future, for Kauai.”

For Felicia Cowden, a CCK member who lives in Kilauea, passion is important.

“All of us in this room understand policy and the role of government,” she said. “I find the majority of people don’t understand it. So we have to use more common speech for people that is going to connect with them. When there’s an emotional pull, you’re going to get people’s attention.”

The GPU will go to the Kauai County Council for the first time on Aug. 23.

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