Just say no to high rises on Kauai

In voting for a candidate running for public office in Kauai you are not just voting for a person, you are voting for the future of Kauai, what are your thoughts and what are your expectations. Also, what are the expectations of those who funded your campaign and what do they want to achieve.

It appears that one issue may be that of approving a high rise here in Kauai. Such an action would be in clear violation of our current building height standards of 30 feet for residential and 50 feet for commercial.

These standards have been in place for a long number of years and were established to retain the character of Kauai. They were also put in place to assure that no high rises would be built on Kauai.

These building height standards have very strong support of the residents of Kauai. In fact, at least 80 percent of our residents would strongly oppose any change regarding these limitations.

It is the task of the appointed planning commissioners to review all building plans and, in doing so, they have the power of making exceptions. In the past, such exceptions would be very rare and might be one or two feet due to a building site problem.

However, these planning commissioners do have the power to make other exceptions.

We often hear “every vote counts,” but — like in “Animal Farm” — “All animals are equal but some are equaler than others.”

Well, that is also what we find in politics. I am sure that at least 80 percent of the residents in Kauai oppose having a high rise in Kauai and I would guess that only 3 percent of residents would support high rises as they would financially benefit a lot.

Why are the 80 percent of us opposed to a high rise? We are opposed as it would change the character of the island. Kauai is what many visitors and residents feel when they think of Hawaii. The pace is slower here, the residents are more “laid back” and more friendly. We even like the one-lane bridges. In addition, Kauai is the most beautiful of all the Hawaiian islands.

Developers often tell us that we are running out of buildable land. Well, we may be running out of buildable waterfront land but certainly there is a great deal of buildable land. Just look around you! There is so much open land available that we should have two priorities.

The first priority is to build homes where people work. The greatest center of employment is the open land right in back of greater Lihue, which includes the shopping areas, car dealers, medical offices, major grocery stores, and the industrial park.

The second priority should be that of building low-cost housing and doing that we should ask developers “Why is the per square foot building cost here in Kauai twice what the mainland per square foot building cost is?”

There are perhaps some Kauai residents that don’t know that Kauai was an independent island. We had our own king and our own royal court and we were never conquered by the king of Oahu (who had conquered Maui and the big island of Hawaii). Three times he tried to conquer Kauai and each time he failed. His spiritual adviser told him. “You will always fail in trying to conquer Kauai because “the gods are with them, not with you.”

Let’s hope that the gods are with us in blocking high rises.

•••

Joe Frisinger is a resident of Princeville.

16 Comments
  1. Jake February 7, 2019 4:29 am Reply

    Joe, you are kind of all over the place.

    First, please list the Kauai survey that states 80% would not support higher buildings.

    “Developers often tell us that we are running out of buildable land.”……………The island is finite in terms of “buildable land”. If you want more “urban sprawl” then we already have, then there are cons to building up the hills from the “waterfront”: Distancing, Unwalkable, Inefficient, Traffic, even more “infrastructure”. We already can’t walk to anything on most, if not all, of the island. We need a car to go everywhere, and there is only a joke of a 2 lane highway. It is a lot cheaper to build on grade, vice on hills.

    “The second priority should be that of building low-cost housing and doing that we should ask developers “Why is the per square foot building cost here in Kauai twice what the mainland per square foot building cost is?”

    Ok, we live in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. The Jones Act extorts billions from the residents each year, but that is another topic. So, bringing any building material, to the islands, costs much, much more than the rest of the planet. The other half is labor. “Unskilled” construction guys start at $30 an hour, and miss at least 1 day of work a week. Material is more expensive and labor is off the charts for people who know what they are doing. Maybe building higher would provide cheaper cost per square foot = affordable housing??

    “The greatest center of employment is the open land right in back of greater Lihue, which includes the shopping areas, car dealers, medical offices, major grocery stores, and the industrial park.”

    Take a deep breath….so maybe, just maybe, should we increase the heights of buildings for ease, space, mobility, and cost? All the infrastructure is where the jobs are located. Building higher will bring down the cost per square foot. People can walk, vice own cars. Urban sprawl is usually not very well planned….pretty much what you see on this island. The mass transportation is inefficient, for obvious reasons already listed.

    Bottomline: Any debate on this topic usually ends with “feelings and emotions”. Everyone wants to keep Kauai the way it is, the way they were raised 40-50 years ago, and not overdevelop (how ever you want to define). Yet, building higher, would solve/mitigate many of your stated island problems. Most people are lazy, and the easy thing is to say “no” without educating yourself on the real benefits to increasing the height restriction. Again, leave the emotions out of it and focus on the facts.


  2. RG DeSoto February 7, 2019 5:04 am Reply

    “Developers often tell us that we are running out of buildable land. Well, we may be running out of buildable waterfront land but certainly there is a great deal of buildable land. Just look around you! There is so much open land available that we should have two priorities.”
    You are right, Joe…but the real problem is the county and state bureaucratic obstruction to rezoning from ag to residential. Couple that with all the other regulations, interference and land use laws and it’s a sure way to drive the price of housing up beyond the reach of many.
    For some reason politicians have an obsession with agriculture and vehemently oppose rezoning all the while whining and wringing their hands over the lack of “affordable” housing. They are the problem…not developers, builders & land owners.
    RG DeSoto


  3. Joe Maka February 7, 2019 5:22 am Reply

    Joe, you are a resident of Princeville, a high end resort community. So, you can afford land and a home. Not everyone can. Land is the most expensive part of the housing equation on Kauai. The choice is either sprawling development or going vertical to provide affordable housing. I prefer the vertical option.


  4. Joe Maka February 7, 2019 5:23 am Reply

    And I highly question the source or validity of your statistics.


  5. randy kansas February 7, 2019 5:46 am Reply

    “It appears that one issue may be that of approving a high rise here in Kauai.”

    please provide information and data to support this claim and that something is in the works ?

    fake news ?

    RK


  6. Steve February 7, 2019 7:59 am Reply

    Great Points Joe!

    Kauai needs to adapt to change but somethings should never be compromised. There is plenty of land on Kauai, perhaps discussions with Grove Farm or other land owners or even the State that controls over 80% of the land needs to be addressed before the thought of a high rise. Although one high rise could be built for low cost housing out of site in Kappa or in Lihue alternate solutions must be explored first.

    The County needs to think like a business and stop demonize land owners for buying large parcels of AG land. The solution is to build partnerships with large land owners and compromise on common issues. Thinking like a business will allow discussions for finding common solutions, concerns, needs and wants. In the past we have had several on the council that have voiced unrealistic solutions demonizing these folks or taking them to Court. This has been ineffective and will not withstand legal challenges.

    A better way is compromise and find common solutions for housing, traffic and new jobs. Did it ever occur to anyone on Kauai that those demonized can be part of the solution. Many of these land owners also run very large global business that need good help. Virtual jobs are an everyday way of life. How about someone approach Mark Zuckerberg or Steve Case with a business proposition that makes sense for Kauai, jobs and perhaps would consider an endowment to build infrastructure and low cost housing. What’s the first thing Kauai does when new residents claim Kauai as a home, full or part time. Kauai looks to demonize vs working for common goals and solutions with the very people that could make a difference for all of Kauai.


  7. kauaidoug February 7, 2019 8:15 am Reply

    NO bleeping way!!


    1. Ed Cullen February 8, 2019 1:33 pm Reply

      Kauai is a speck in the middle of nowhere, multiple time zones from any population centers. The island was basically an agricultural zone until world farming changes forced the island to embrace tourism. The attitude on the island is anti business unless you claim to be a local family operation. Significant portions of the population have come to the island to escape the stressful and competitive atmosphere elsewhere. Those that have the desire to work in the business world go to the mainland. there is no transportation and all you see is the embarrassing decades old hotel project on a totally inadequate highway which chokes our traffic and damages our environment.
      The strength of this Island is the sanctuary it provides, and solutions for the problems of Kauai cannot lose sight of this fact.


  8. Rick Cooper February 7, 2019 8:17 am Reply

    Joe (author). I agree 100%!!
    Is there a particular project that you know of or that is in the works you are concerned about? Or, in the wake of having a recently elected, ‘pro-development’ Mayor, are you just affirming the facts in order to try to prevent such proposals? If there are specifics, the people of Kaua’i need to know ASAP.
    Thank you!!


  9. Rick Cooper February 7, 2019 8:25 am Reply

    Joe (author).
    I agree 100%!! Kaua’i’s building height regulation is unique to the major islands and protects our ‘aina over buildings’ priority aesthetic.
    Is there a particular project that you know of, or one in the works you are concerned about?
    Or, in the wake of having a recently elected a ‘pro-development’ Mayor (who reportedly accepted a lot of campaign donation money from development interests), are you just affirming the facts in order to try to prevent such proposals? If there are specifics, the people of Kaua’i need to know ASAP.
    Thank you!!


  10. curious dog February 7, 2019 11:58 am Reply

    Parking in Princeville is ridiculous. The residential roads are closed off to the general public…not a very welcoming feeling for our warm, friendly island. Just try to find an open space at the very limited public parking lot at the end of the road….good luck!

    Wondering out loud here….Is Princeville planning a high-rise parking garage somewhere? Now THAT would be ironic.


  11. Mary Kerns February 7, 2019 1:35 pm Reply

    kiwikerns@comcast.netOne of the most wonderful things about Kauai is the height restriction for man made structures! That means that the views of the land are preserved fore everyone. We came to Kauai for over 15 years each year for 6 weeks or more and grew to love and respect the devotion of the Kauai residents for their island. So if they run out of beachfront property that is buildable within the present limits, so be it. Build on other land but keep the height where it is so that this Garden Isle, Gem of the Pacific, maintains its beauty and is not scarred by overwhelming size buildings that get in the way of those who love seeing the natural beauty.


  12. wilwelsh2@yahoo.com February 7, 2019 2:56 pm Reply

    I hope we don’t have to fight the height-restriction battle again. Without the 4-story height limit, Poipu would look like Waikiki, as would most of Kapaa and certainly the north shore.


  13. numilalocal February 7, 2019 7:54 pm Reply

    You say “we” when referring to Kauai having its own king. Are you Kanaka?


    1. some guy February 9, 2019 3:00 am Reply

      he’s kanaka ha’ole


  14. rk669 February 8, 2019 5:57 pm Reply

    Outside Campaign Money to Kawakami say,we’ll see about that!


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