LIHUE — Some residents are asking what Kauai’s General Plan can achieve.
Tuesday, they received some possible answers.
Apollo Kauai and Kauai Women’s Caucus assembled a panel of experts at Ha Coffee Bar to help sort out environmental questions about the plan.
The first to speak was Luke Evslin, a climate activist and member of the citizen advisory committee.
“The best way to ensure this plan gets implemented is to continue community engagement for the life of the plan,” Evslin said to about 25 people. “I hope we have a lot of meetings like this to hold our leaders accountable to it.”
His vision for redesigning the maps for smart land use includes building for pedestrians, not cars, to dramatically reduce carbon emissions within the next 10 years. He suggested revitalizing town cores and limiting growth to town centers where people can live, work and play, in addition to maximizing density with a variety of house types.
Another panelist was Anne Walton, who worked 20 years with the NOAA office of Marine Sanctuaries globally and continues as a consultant for international leadership groups on marine conservation.
“If the plan’s actions are not very target in terms of getting results then they probably don’t belong in the plan,” Walton said. “We’re talking about how to clean this up, so actions are really targeted in the plan. So, there’s an earnest effort taking place to fine-tune this plan, to put some spit and shine on it.”
From January to July, there have been seven versions of the General Plan, and some were concerned that previous plans were never actually implemented.
Walton said areas of contested development in areas, like Princeville and Lima Ola, should consider effects on watersheds, upland forests, estuaries and coral reefs, as well as housing, transportation, infrastructure and agriculture.
The third speaker, Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura, said, “Without a good plan, the chances of achieving our goals for Kauai are really slim.
“If we want to continue the good things about life on Kauai, effectively address the problems that are threatening the quality of our lives like the lack of affordable housing, traffic congestion and drugs,” she said.
Yukimura said she understands the challenges of coordinating with others for the community to come together around the plan.
“If we want to create a future for our children and future generations that is livable and life supporting, we need an excellent general plan,” she said.
“We need a better action plan, not just list 500 actions that aren’t prioritized that we don’t have money to implement for,” Yukimura said. “It just doesn’t work.”
She suggest focusing on “clear goals and objectives” to develop a multi-modal transportation system, affordable housing, natural resources management and sustainable tourism.
“The other thing that’s needed is clear policy statements,” Yukimura added. “This to me is the heart of the General Plan, and it is the biggest missing piece.”