Limiting​ ​resort​ ​growth​ ​will​ ​address tourism issue

  • Contributed photo County Councilmember JoAnn A. Yukimura

Allan​ ​Parachini’s​ ​recent​ ​reporting​ ​about​ ​the​ ​overabundance​ ​of​ ​visitors​ ​and​ ​cars​ ​at​ ​Haena​ ​State Park​ ​has​ ​sparked​ ​a​ ​passionate​ ​discussion​ ​about​ ​too​ ​many​ ​visitors​ ​on​ ​Kauai.​ ​​ ​To​ ​the​ ​credit​ ​of the​ ​Kauai​ ​visitor​ ​industry,​ ​the​ ​county’s​ ​​Tourism​ ​Strategic​ ​Plan​ ​​acknowledges​ ​that​ ​we​ ​are​ ​at​ ​our limit:​ ​​ ​When​ ​daily​ ​visitor​ ​counts​ ​reach​ ​25,000,​ ​which​ ​happens​ ​often​ ​these​ ​days,​ ​“the​ ​island’s roads,​ ​parks,​ ​beaches​ ​and​ ​other​ ​infrastructure,​ ​in​ ​their​ ​current​ ​conditions,​ ​are​ ​taxed​ ​and​ ​the visitor​ ​experience​ ​and​ ​resident​ ​quality​ ​of​ ​life​ ​diminish.​ …”​​ Residents​ ​and​ ​visitor​ ​industry agree:​ “We​ ​are​ ​at​ ​our​ ​max.”

In​ ​my​ ​previous​ ​op-ed​ ​(TGI​ ​Oct. ​27,)​ ​I​ ​explained​ ​how​ ​managing​ ​resort​ ​development was​ ​key​ ​to​ ​managing​ ​visitor​ ​growth​ ​and​ ​residential​ ​growth​ ​on​ ​Kauai.​ When​ ​resorts​ ​are​ ​built​ ​and someone​ ​has​ ​to​ ​fill​ ​them​ ​and​ ​staff​ ​them,​ ​the​ ​growth​ ​machine​ ​is​ ​hard​ ​to​ ​stop.

The​ ​existing​ ​Kauai​ ​General​ ​Plan​ ​(2000)​ ​is​ ​a​ ​growth​ ​machine​ ​that​ ​has​ ​the​ ​potential​ ​of​ ​5,700 more​ ​visitor​ ​units​ ​on​ ​Kauai​ ​in​ ​the​ ​next​ ​20​ ​years —​ ​a​ ​66 percent​ ​increase​ ​as​ ​follows:

w Currently​ ​we​ ​have​ ​8,600​ ​visitor​ ​units​ ​(resorts​ ​and​ ​vacation​ ​rentals)​ ​in​ ​operation

w There​ ​are​ ​properties​ ​zoned​ ​for​ ​“Resort”​ ​on​ ​which​ ​can​ ​be​ ​built​ ​3,700​ ​new​ ​visitor​ ​units​ ​at Coco​ ​Palms,​ ​Princeville,​ ​Coconut​ ​Plantation,​ ​Poipu​ ​and​ ​Waimea.

w Additionally​ ​there​ ​are​ ​3​ ​“Resort”​ ​designations​ ​on​ ​“Agriculture”​ ​zoned​ ​land​ ​in​ ​the​ ​existing plan​ ​that​ ​would​ ​support​ ​some​ ​2,000​ ​more​ ​visitor​ ​units.​​​ ​(I​ ​am​ ​adjusting​ ​the​ ​3,000​ ​figure in​ ​my​ ​previous​ ​op-ed​ ​based​ ​on​ ​new​ ​information.)​ ​​ ​These​ ​are​ ​at​ ​Princeville​ ​Phase​ ​II, Nukolii​ ​and​ ​Waimea​ ​Plantation​ ​Cottages.

To​ ​most​ ​of​ ​us​ ​on​ ​Kauai,​ ​that​ ​kind​ ​of​ ​growth​ ​is​ ​scary​ ​when​ ​Kauai​ ​is​ ​already​ ​having​ ​difficulty handling​ ​what​ ​we​ ​have​ ​today.

The​ ​update​ ​of​ ​the​ ​General​ ​Plan​ ​currently​ ​before​ ​the​ ​County Council​ ​gives​ ​us​ ​an​ ​opportunity​ ​to​ ​begin​ ​to correct​ ​the​ ​problem​ ​by​ ​regaining​ ​control​ ​of​ ​resort​ ​numbers​ ​so​ ​we​ ​don’t​ ​turn​ ​into​ ​an​ ​Oahu​ ​or Maui.​​​ ​Limiting​ ​resort​ ​growth​ ​will​ ​help​ ​us​ ​achieve​ ​two​ ​of​ ​the​ ​overarching​ ​goals​ ​of​ ​the​ ​General Plan​ ​Update:​ 1.​ ​Keeping​ ​Kauai​ ​a​ ​​unique​ ​and​ ​beautiful​ ​place​​ ​(unlike​ ​many​ ​visitor​ ​destinations overrun​ ​by​ ​visitors),​ ​and​ ​2.​ ​Making​ ​Kauai​ ​a​ ​​sustainable​​ ​​place​ ​​(unlike​ ​places​ ​overrun​ ​by growth).

The​ ​first​ ​step​ ​to​ ​limiting​ ​resort​ ​growth​ ​on​ ​Kauai​ ​is​ ​to​ ​remove​ ​the​ ​“Resort”​ ​designations​ ​in​ ​the current​ ​General​ ​Plan​ ​that​ ​are​ ​on​ ​lands​ ​presently​ ​zoned​ ​“Agriculture.”​ ​​​These​ ​approximately 2,000​ ​units​ ​at​ ​Princeville​ ​Phase​ ​II,​ ​Nukolii​ ​and​ ​Waimea​ ​Plantation​ ​Cottages​ ​don’t​ ​presently have​ ​full​ ​approval​ ​for​ ​resort​ ​use.

I​ ​am​ ​sympathetic​ ​to​ ​Waimea​ ​Plantation​ ​Cottages​ ​​because​ ​their​ ​unique​ ​style​ ​and limited​ ​number​ ​(60​ ​cottages)​ ​have​ ​proven​ ​compatible​ ​with​ ​the​ ​community.​ ​However,​ ​when​ ​the additional​ ​250​ ​units​ ​sought​ ​by​ ​Waimea​ ​Plantation​​ ​Cottages​ ​are​ ​added​ ​to​ ​the​ ​250​ ​resort​ ​units​ ​already​ ​zoned​ ​for but​ ​not​ ​yet​ ​built​ ​on​ ​Gay​ ​and​ ​Robinson​ ​land,​ ​there​ ​could​ ​be​ ​an​ ​833 percent​ ​increase​ ​in​ ​resort​ ​rooms​ ​in Waimea​ ​at​ ​full​ ​build-out.​ ​​ ​

The​ ​Westside​ ​would​ ​do​ ​well​ ​to​ ​avoid​ ​the​ ​unintended​ ​consequences​ ​of resort​ ​development​ ​that​ ​could​ ​come​ ​to​ ​Waimea:​ ​increasing​ ​property​ ​prices​ ​(and​ ​taxes),​ ​traffic congestion,​ ​negative​ ​impacts​ ​on​ ​agriculture​ ​and​ ​most​ ​of​ ​all​ ​diminishing​ ​the​ ​Westside​ ​lifestyle.​ ​A Transfer​ ​of​ ​Development​ ​Rights​ ​(TDR)​ ​program,​ ​which​ ​I​ ​would​ ​support,​ ​could​ ​allow​ ​Waimea​ ​Plantation​ Cottages​ ​to​ ​add​ ​more​ ​units​ ​without​ ​increasing​ ​the​ ​overall​ ​number​ ​of​ ​resort​ ​units​ ​in​ ​Waimea.

(​​Transfer​​ ​of​ ​​Development​ ​Rights​​ ​​ ​is​ ​a​ ​voluntary,​ ​incentive-​ ​based​ ​program​ ​that allows​ ​landowners​ ​to​ ​sell​ ​​development​ ​rights​​ ​from​ ​their​ ​land​ ​to​ ​a​ ​developer​ ​or​ ​other interested​ ​party​ ​who​ ​then​ ​can​ ​use​ ​these​ ​​rights​​ ​to​ ​increase​ ​the​ ​density​ ​of​ ​​development at​ ​another​ ​designated​ ​location.​ ​Credit:​ ​Wikipedia.)

As​ ​for​ ​the​ ​3,700​ ​resort​ ​rooms​ ​that​ ​already​ ​have​ ​“Resort”​ ​zoning,​ ​it​ ​would​ ​be​ ​difficult​ ​to​ ​remove such​ ​zoning.​ ​Instead​ ​we​ ​should​ ​put​ ​in​ ​place​ ​laws​ ​that​ ​clearly​ ​and​ ​fairly​ ​require​ ​every development​ ​to​ ​pay​ ​for​ ​the​ ​public​ ​costs​ ​caused​ ​by​ ​that​ ​development — such​ ​as​ ​increased​ ​traffic lanes,​ ​more​ ​park​ ​space​ ​and​ ​affordable​ ​housing.​ ​​​Adding​ ​3,700​ ​more​ ​resort​ ​rooms​ ​for​ ​thousands of​ ​additional​ ​visitors​ ​will​ ​put​ ​huge​ ​burdens​ ​on​ ​the​ ​environment,​ ​roads,​ ​county​ ​services​ ​and more.​

​​ ​If​ ​developers​ ​don’t​ ​pay​ ​these​ ​costs,​ ​the​ ​community​ ​will​ ​bear​ ​the​ ​burden​ ​through​ ​taxes and​ ​higher​ ​fees.​ ​​​There​ ​will​ ​also​ ​be​ ​increased​ ​pressure​ ​to​ ​raise​ ​and​ ​use​ ​the​ ​Transient Accommodation​ ​Tax​ ​(TAT)​ ​to​ ​offset​ ​the​ ​visitor-related​ ​costs​ ​imposed​ ​on​ ​the​ ​public.​ ​​​To​ ​avoid higher​ ​costs​ ​to​ ​the​ ​community​ ​and​ ​the​ ​visitor​ ​industry,​ ​the​ ​developer​ ​should​ ​be​ ​required​ ​to​ ​pay impact​ ​fees​ ​upfront​ ​to​ ​cover​ ​the​ ​costs​ ​the​ ​development​ ​causes.

When​ ​faced​ ​with​ ​the​ ​true​ ​overall​ ​costs​ ​of​ ​a​ ​new​ ​resort,​ ​developers​ ​may​ ​choose​ ​to​ ​hold​ ​off​ ​until they​ ​are​ ​sure​ ​the​ ​market​ ​can​ ​bear​ ​those​ ​costs.​​​ ​Or,​ ​they​ ​will​ ​pay​ ​to​ ​offset​ ​the​ ​public​ ​costs​ ​of their​ ​development.​ ​​​This​ ​should​ ​slow​ ​down​ ​development​ ​based​ ​on​ ​true​ ​market​ ​dynamics​ ​and will​ ​deflect​ ​the​ ​costs​ ​of​ ​development​ ​from​ ​the​ ​community.

Our​ ​ultimate​ ​goal​ ​should​ ​be​ ​a​ ​land​ ​regulation​ ​system​ ​that​ ​permits​ ​only​ ​development​ ​that​ ​pays its​ ​way,​ ​is​ ​located​ ​in​ ​the​ ​proper​ ​place,​ ​and​ ​benefits​ ​the​ ​community.​ ​​​It​ ​would​ ​be​ ​a​ ​system​ ​that would​ ​indicate​ ​to​ ​developers​ ​early​ ​on​ ​where​ ​and​ ​what​ ​kind​ ​of​ ​development​ ​was​ ​desired​ ​and what​ ​would​ ​be​ ​required​ ​in​ ​terms​ ​of​ ​offsets.​ ​​​Such​ ​a​ ​system​ ​would​ ​be​ ​streamlined​ ​so​ ​that​ ​the worthy​ ​developments​ ​that​ ​pay​ ​their​ ​share​ ​of​ ​public​ ​costs​ ​and​ ​meet​ ​all​ ​requirements​ ​whiz through​ ​the​ ​permitting​ ​system,​ ​making​ ​it​ ​a​ ​“win-win”​ ​for​ ​both​ ​the​ ​developer​ ​and​ ​the​ ​community. Creating​ ​such​ ​a​ ​system​ ​should​ ​be​ ​a​ ​goal​ ​clearly​ ​stated​ ​in​ ​the​ ​General​ ​Plan​ ​Update.

Kauai​ ​is​ ​special​ ​because​ ​its​ ​residents​ ​have​ ​worked​ ​to​ ​keep​ ​it​ ​special.​ ​Come​ ​to​ ​the​ ​Special Planning​ ​Committee​ ​meeting​ ​on​ ​Wednesday​ ​in​ ​the​ ​Historic​ ​County​ ​Building.​ ​​​Public​ ​testimony starts​ ​at​ ​8:30​ ​a.m.​ ​​​You​ ​can​ ​also​ ​email​ ​councilmembers​ ​at​​.​ ​​​A democracy​ ​is​ ​like​ ​a​ ​potluck.​ ​​​It​ ​works​ ​best​ ​when​ ​everyone​ ​participates​ ​in​ ​an​ ​informed​ ​way!


JoAnn Yukimura is a member of the Kauai County Council.

  1. larry December 10, 2017 4:19 am Reply

    there are enough places for a reasonable amount of visitors to stay when they visit……No More New Structures ……THE GLASS IS OVERFLOWING

  2. dennis l bosio December 10, 2017 7:23 am Reply

    To her credit this time the council woman does not mention buses and bicycle paths as being an essential part of the strategic plan to move people around the island. However, we know where her heart is on that matter from several other op eds she has penned.

    The council just passed a new tax earmarked for transportation improvement. Most of us believe that means roads and auto access. Unfortunately, elected officials often do not agree and funnel those funds for “politically correct” uses that fail to reduce to traffic issues.

  3. randy kansas December 10, 2017 11:18 am Reply

    this statement: “Kauai​ ​is​ ​already​ ​having​ ​difficulty handling​ ​what​ ​we​ ​have​ ​today.”

    and the reason, is that the folks running the local government are always “a day late and a dollar short” when running the island;

    too many unfunded pensions for one….always trying to tax their way out of problems;

    run the island like a business (at least elect a few business leaders), stay within your $$$ means and maybe things will get better;

    if you want to limit visitors, simply reduce the number of flights allowed to Kauai !! that’s what they are doing in Greece;

  4. kauaidog December 10, 2017 12:49 pm Reply

    We sure need to do something NOW about the coming influx of visitors if we want to continue any semblance of the wonderful lifestyle Kauai offers. Nobody wants to sit in traffic, This new Hotel slated to begin construction next to Courtyard Marriott in Kapaa is a prime example. My understanding it is 600 rooms! How many cars will that add in Kapaa east side? Enough already!

  5. Mike Hermans December 10, 2017 1:31 pm Reply

    I visit Kauai annually and agree with all of Ms. Yakimura’s points. It would be a very good idea to limit future growth of the tourism industry on Kauai. I would also suggest no rebuilding of the Coco Palms – that is an area where adding a new hotel is a very poor idea.

  6. Debra Kekaualua December 10, 2017 3:16 pm Reply

    ALL excess current hotel rooms should be section 8 awarded to homeless families or others that are dismissed due to such EXCESSIVE rents and too many people not from here need to leave and take all their play toys with them. This includes military war toys and political skanks that are lining their pockets while the rest of us suffering for our children due to autism, heart defects 4 of 5 kekaha keiki born over the last two decades suffer, while you go on your Meri way. Shame on all those complicit with the rambo that exists long before JY was mayor.

  7. Joe December 10, 2017 3:51 pm Reply

    #1 You are not a Democracy.
    #2 You are a county run by the Democrat party.
    #3 You have growth issues because you are run by a single party
    with no dissension outside your party.
    #4 Your entire problem is the Democrat party.

    1. Darrell December 11, 2017 10:26 am Reply

      Exactly right Joe!

  8. steve ball December 10, 2017 4:32 pm Reply

    Hello fellow Kauai people. No one has anything to say about this? Wall to wall hotels & resorts in our future.

  9. KawikaW December 11, 2017 10:41 am Reply

    Debra doesn’t ever seem to consider the fact that if the US military were to leave Kauai we would all be dead or imprisoned within a few short days. They are the ONLY thing stopping the other military strongholds from taking over. Can’t even say U.N. would offer protection, they can’t even convince North Korea to stand down.

  10. kidd December 11, 2017 10:45 am Reply

    Hello ,
    The current administration is Republican , The last was republican as was the one before that . Lets see,
    the last four mayors have been republican . They’ve never met a builder they didn’t love . Remember mayor Kusaka ?
    Our current mayor wants us to be as much like Maui as possible . Already plans are being made and implemented .
    Over pruning of foliage , cutting trees all over , like in Waimea & Kekaha of all places . The idea is to make the whole island look like a rich man’s estate . New rules and fines . $500 for dog n county park ,
    $150 for sleeping in vehicle and planning to lock down county parks from 10 pm to 6 am , with a $1000 fine if in park without permit .
    Jo Ann’s solution is spot on . Stop all this development until we can handle . We are not Maui are we ?

  11. Kaiulani Mahuka December 11, 2017 4:15 pm Reply

    Kaua’i is an island with very fragile eco-systyems that is home to our community- NOT A RESORT DESTINATION. Limit flights and raise prices for visitors, THEY WILL PAY IT. Start being a better steward of the island, QUIT ACTING LIKE #gangsters Kaua’i County!!

  12. numilalocal December 11, 2017 6:27 pm Reply

    To deny development on an already-zoned property would cost the taxpayers tens of millions of dollars. To change ag lands to residential use is a huge issue and as long as people keep moving here we will never have so-called affordable housing. Supply and demand determine housing prices.

  13. Reverend Malama Robinson December 31, 2017 5:59 am Reply

    Real estate exploitation is the driving force behind the out of control and illegal government while tourism is just a byproduct at this point in time.
    I wish to see Joanne retire immediately and steer clear of the demise of The Kauai we once knew….

    We are all enslaved to the Billionaire investor at this point. Forward until we do the right thing and return to the independent nation…..

  14. Denis Gueret January 9, 2018 6:01 pm Reply

    May I make the following suggestion for a partial solution:
    Create a Kauai Transit Authority, capitalized with county and private money, just like a utility, which mission will be:
    To define a global usage plan, then:
    1rst phase: make all new resorts and large real estate dev. comply in providing public transportation, regular lines or on demand.
    2sd phase make all existing resorts hotels and real estate dev. comply to the same.
    Coordinate all these transportation actors with the county public system. ( includes independents who are interested) for reliable connections. Systems for smooth dispatch are already available off the shelf.
    Third phase: where the highway can support 4 lanes, create dedicated corridors. Tax car rentals enough so the public alternative is a better option for most tourists

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