LIHUE — Of the more than 100 people that attended the Kauai County Council’s General Plan Update hearing Wednesday, it was the voices of Kauai’s youth that echoed throughout the Kauai War Memorial Convention Hall.
The Wednesday special meeting was located at the convention hall in order to accommodate the anticipated public interest in the subject, according to the county, and more than 65 residents shared testimonies regarding the update during the meeting.
Traffic, development and stream diversions were all touched upon in public comment.
“The parking lots are overflowed with visitors’ cars,” said 13-year-old Leela Henderson, of Wainiha Valley. “There are cars parked illegally all along the highway and even in the highway.”
She suggested the uptick in vehicles on Kauai’s roadways could be curbed by limiting tourism. Kauai currently has 26,000 daily visitors according to the Hawaii Tourism Authority, and that number is anticipated to grow.
She also suggested finding a way to limit tourism could protect Kauai’s sensitive coral reefs.
“I see a lot of visitors abusing the environment due to lack of education, using toxic sunscreen and bug spray, walking on the reef and harassing the monk seals,” she said.
Students from Kanuikapono Public Charter School also added their voices to the public record on Wednesday, and 16-year-old Russel Fu acknowledged the impact the plan will have on future generations. Fu was at the meeting for a class project with peers, Kanuikapono students grades 9-12.
“The plan is meant for keiki and kids,” Fu said. “Personally, I don’t believe all that (upgrading the) roads would help out too much. You’re making more space for people to clog it up again…the roads are gonna go through lands that used to be sacred to our kupuna, and they lose their value once roads cross them.”
Respect for the Hawaiian homelands is important to include in the General Plan update according to Robert Rowe, po’o for Hui Malama O Kaneiolouma, who said he thinks every one of Kauai’s past planning directors should have been at the meeting to testify about the plan.
“Every island, the rubbish dumps are placed on Hawaiian homelands, and the native persons are denied access to these lands,” Rowe said. “Our burials are considered second to you people of this island when you go and dig up a grave.”
Rounds of applause took place after speakers voiced their opinions, but there was complete silence when representative of P.R.W. Princeville Development Company LLC, Ian Jung, spoke. He admitted to not knowing what the initial letters stand for, and public opposition to Princeville’s phase two development was evident.
Comments were also focused on restoring natural water flow from Mt. Wai’ale’ale, which has been diverted with man-made ditches from Wailua Headwaters that some say negatively impact ecosystem health.
Each member of the public had three minutes to speak about the plan and testimonies began after a moment of silence to recognize the struggles of communities in Puerto Rico and Las Vegas.
During the meeting’s intermission, Kanuikapono students presented council members with ti leaf leis to signify the importance of the public hearing.
“Mahalo for all your input,” council member Mason Chock said to the students. “This is your kuleana as well. You guys are the future, this planning is for you.”
The council was commended by the public for taking time to listen to each individual and better understand all community viewpoints, including native Hawaiians. But, those representing the Lawful Hawaiian Government said the General Plan should reflect respect for native Hawaiians.
“I’m here to remind you that the kanakama’oli is not recognized in the state of Hawaii,” said Keohokui Kauihana, noble for the Lawful Hawaiian Government. “We need to make Hawaiian Kingdom citizens again, and only the government can do that.”
Written testimony on the Bill No. 2666, relating to the update of the General Plan, may be submitted to the Office of the County Clerk, Council Services Division via E-mail to email@example.com.
For those who couldn’t attend the meeting, a video of the meeting will be available for archived viewing after the meeting has ended on the County’s website, www.kauai.gov as well as televised on Ho‘ike Channel 53.