LIHUE — The 287-page county document created to plan for Kauai’s future has some residents fearful of what’s ahead.
The first hearing of the Draft General Plan by the County Council went for nearly five hours Wednesday at the Historic County Building.
About 100 people crowded into the meeting room. Some stood against walls, others sat on the floor, and many waited by the doorway to learn how the plan may affect their lives.
“I think it should stop, because they’re not including the first peoples here,” said Anahola resident Noble Keohokui Kauihana, an elected official for Hawaii Government.“The kanaka maoli people are not being represented. They use our history but don’t give us recognition as a people.”
“We’re not even mentioned,” he continued, “so I think they shouldn’t carry forward with their development of the Hawaiian Kingdom.”
The Planning Commission approved and transmitted the amended General Plan Update on June 13 to council. Kauai’s council members on Wednesday said they hoped to reflect community voices in the new plan.
Many residents have expressed worries that the plan doesn’t address growth issues related to tourism and development.
Koloa landscaper Allen Yangcon said this was his first time attending this type of meeting.
“Growing up here all my life I’ve seen a lot of changes, and I’m wondering how and why some of these changes are taking place,” Yangco said. “I finally came to the age where I got to make a difference, not just for me, but for my daughter and her kids in the future as well.”
Council Chair Mel Rapozo invited citizens to share their views before the new plan was presented. The presenters, each given three minutes to speak, struggled to be heard through the microphone in the small crowded room.
Kanaka maoli, Rupert Rowe, head of Hui Malama O Kaneiolouma, said the future plan is out of control.
“The general plan does not look at the true issues of this county, because it has continued not to understand how to manage a small island in the middle of the biggest ocean,” Rowe said. “We have no answers for our rubbish, our resources and our growth. It’s a plan that has no destiny.”
He referred to it as a “make believe plan in the eyes of all developers who can get their projects through the county.”
“That’s why we are where we are today,” he said.
In the General Draft Plan, the County of Kauai Planning Department addressed many areas, including affordable housing, land transportation, infrastructure needs, resort development, energy sustainability, increased tourism, traffic congestion and public safety for the island’s projected population of 88,000 by 2035.
Its purpose is to create a long-range vision and framework to guide growth and development in a plan to be updated every 10 years. Some hot topics included projected maps discussing East Kauai development and Hanapepe/Eleele land use.
The Community Coalition Kauai has started an online petition for those who believe the plan proposes new designations and zonings that largely benefit large landowners and developers.
Sonia Song of Kapaa said the plan is very general without specific goals and policies.
She said a group of community members has done an excellent job in doing research for the island communities—what has worked, what didn’t work.
“I want to ask council members whether they are humble enough to give them a chance to share their ideas of success stories and lessons learned to see how we can adapt that to Kauai in terms of traffic control, rental units, and restricting the number of tourist through economic means,” she said.
“I wish every Wednesday, when I come to these council meetings, that the turnout and passion I saw today was represented on a weekly basis,” said Matt Bernabe, Kapaa resident.
Council members said it is still early in the process, and the county will continue to accept public comments on the plan.
Comments on the plan can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.