North Shore eyes ‘new normal’

WAINIHA — The future of Wainiha and Haena was on the table at Opakapaka Grill and Bar Wednesday night.

The two communities have been isolated for at least six months since the April flood washed out sections of Kuhio Highway. They have been accessible through a single-lane convoy system to residents of the area only.

About 75 people gathered to talk about preparing and planning for what comes after access to the area reopens to the public some time in 2019. Plans and ideas were made to work along with the planned construction associated with the updating of the Haena State Park Master Plan as well.

“We’re a strong, united community, and we want this to be a beacon, a treasured area, and create the new normal that everyone on island could enjoy,” said Joel Guy, vice president of the Hanalei Haena Community Association, which hosted the meeting.

Like small committees, residents sat in groups around tables, expressing ideas and writing them on paper. Some residents walked from table to table, listening in and dropping in to give input. Shuttles, parking, communication, roads and policies were discussed.

While many suggestions were generated, there were common concerns voiced and solutions proposed.

A major concern is that people want to be sure road and bridge repairs are completed by the time Kuhio Highway is reopened.

A transition period of at least six months or more was a key goal of the group.

During this time, island residents would be welcomed into Wainiha and Haena, while tourists could visit only via shuttle. The convoy system would end, but it was suggested that road repairs could continue, especially since this method would help reduce traffic. This process would need to be managed by someone at a checkpoint.

“Because of fragile infrastructure, we want a limited time period (when all island residents can come to Wainiha and Haena),” Guy said.

He said this would help to ensure the safety of non-residents as well. Fewer vehicles and fewer visitors would allow for people in the area to “heal” more easily, he added.

People also agreed that slowing vehicle overflow for a short period of time would make it easier for people to continue to recover from the flood, and give workers more room to finish road repairs.

All island residents could pass through to the area, but would need to show placards for access.

On the topic of the convoy, one woman said, “We love it and we hate it.”

All agreed they would like to see a time around 10 a.m. added to the schedule when people can leave and enter the area.

On the flip side, residents that otherwise would be forced to be stuck waiting on the other side (outside Wainiha and Haena) could get back home earlier. Many individuals sometimes have to wait hours to get home through the convoy.

It was also agreed that after the road is reopened, no-parking zones would prevent an overflow of traffic into the community.

Laura Richards, general manager of Hanalei Colony Resort, was at the communications table, and relayed some themes, including describing the Wainiha and Haena area as a “national treasure,” and emphasizing the importance of perpetuating cultural knowledge.

Providing information in a brochure or a video on a flight to the island about the area’s history and what has happened in Haena and Wainiha as a result of the April flood was one suggestion.

Information about how to be respectful of Hawaiian culture and the environment while visiting Haena and Wainiha was considered a must.

“I think a major goal was to steer toward inclusiveness toward the whole island. We’re not the only ones dealing with an unbalanced (situation) between residents and non-residents. (We’re asking) how do we create the new normal?” Guy added.


Monique Rowan is a Kauai native and Wainiha resident who writes occasionally for The Garden Island.

  1. Anonymous November 18, 2018 7:49 am Reply

    People of Kauai, please know that not everyone on the north shore shares the same sentiments expressed at the “community meeting”. The road closure and restricted access enforced by the county has only increased the rate of mold growth on some people’s brains, perpetuating their belief that they speak for the entire community and that their part of this beautiful island is somehow “gated” to keep others out. There ARE property owners, residents and workers who YEARN for and end to the emergency declaration and a return to normalcy but are cautious of expressing their views out of fear that their property will end up like Opakapaka or the arson torched vehicles at the base of Powerhouse Road. More damage has been done to the north shore psyche than the flood itself and will probably take a decade to correct. Tourists will have more to fear from flying objects thrown at them or being verbally accosted than driving over the edge of the highway. One thing I think we can agree on, I don’t think any of us wants the sides of our road littered with “No Parking” signs.

  2. Jenifer Prince November 18, 2018 1:36 pm Reply

    I agree 100% that Haena needs the reduction of cars and I applaud the concept of only using a shuttle service for the tourists. Priority should always be the folks that live in Haena and hanalei and the folks who live on Kauai.many years ago a shuttle service for Ke’e was proposed and abandoned. Let’s protect and preserve Haena and Hanalei please.
    The land and the residents need to heal……..aloha

  3. Steven November 18, 2018 7:44 pm Reply

    Please look at this video of the “new normal”

    Just a note, shortly after this meeting concluded there was a fire a the Hanalei Colony Resort that could have become devastating for the entire area

  4. joemaka November 19, 2018 8:14 am Reply

    People – visitors and residents – have a right to go to publicly owned locations. The road and parks are not private. Some (not all) Haena residents would like the rest of us to pay for all the benefits of infrastructure and have it only for them. The fact that the County and State allow small factions to influence decisions is unacceptable.

    The truth is that a lot of the people out there are just plain strange and unrealistic. The fact that vacation homes cannot be rented is criminal. The fact that Na Pali is closed for hiking is sad. The road is fine right now.

    Cars are a big problem. Yes on a mandatory shuttle for the ENTIRE north shore past Princeville. This will be better for residents, visitors, and businesses.

  5. Penquin November 22, 2018 11:13 am Reply

    If all of the ‘nationalists’ on the North Shore want to keep everyone but residents out of the area, why don’t they pay for all of the repairs to the roads and structures damaged by the flood? Next, they can buy up all of the other public spaces at fair market value. Then maybe they have a right prevent others from coming into the area. It’s funny that so many residents don’t realize the benefits of public access. Sure there is a lot of traffic, but that can be said for any major city in the world. I for one, can’t wait for the road to be open again.

  6. some guy December 2, 2018 12:04 am Reply

    was talking to my now “ex-friend” in north shore few weeks ago, he did not hesitate to go on h*ole rant. from now on ill remember this mentality next time anyone on north shore needs a go fundme. take what you will out of it.

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