There are solutions to Kauai’s problems

Having been an observer of Kauai politics since the reign of uncle Tony as mayor and a resident for nearly half my 74 years, it’s time to comment on some of the current issues facing the island.

w Traffic: We accept all kinds of limits in our lives, i.e. speed limits, mandatory insurance, alcohol and seat-belt limits when driving, and many others. The time has come to limit the number of cars on island, as the traffic has become sadly unbearable and the vast majority of cars have only one driver. This has been done in many places in the world. Just Google it to discover where and how it has been successful. As I sit in traffic trying to get to Lihue after 11 a.m. and the bypass is backed up half way to Kapaa I wonder just how much time and fossil fuel is being wasted by all these cars, mine included. Yes, I’m guilty. If you have a car and are driving you are the traffic! Contraflow is not the answer. In fact, I wonder what is the total annual cost of placing all those cones six days a week? Decentralizing government offices and services and staggering work hours might help. One long-term solution is to float a bond for construction of a monorail from Princeville to KCC over powerline trail. One stop only for hikers and hunters should protect the interior sufficiently. Park and ride. Then, Uber or take the bus. Of course, like many of our other issues there is not the vision nor political will to implement this or other major changes to the status quo. Economics seems to trump all other issues including quality of life.

w Affordable housing: The problem isn’t the cost of housing. It’s the cost of infrastructure and the lack of land available. By using the tool of eminent domain there could be plenty of land taken at fair market value from our large landowners to develop affordable housing. Tax incentives might grease the wheel. Mauka Kealia Kai comes to mind as well as Steve Case’s vast holdings. There are others, and you all know who they are. As with the above there’s no political will to solve the problem. Why? Because these folks are running the show. I would prefer to hire Disney to run the show. Probably cheaper and they have lots of experience with crowds, security and monorails!

w Economic diversification: A whole new industry could be developed on the Westside’s vast acreages. Hemp, now legal in all 50 states, and could provide more jobs, food, fiber and oils for local use and export. All that is required is, once again, some vision and political will. Steve Case or Mr. Zuckerberg could easily afford the machinery to separate the plant into various parts for processing. I won’t even suggest legalizing MJ beyond medical use as there seems to be much opposition to this hot potato and I do see the wisdom in a wait-and-see attitude. However, if legalized and taxed correctly in order to compete with the black market, this could be a financial windfall for government, perhaps even funding the unfunded pensions of all those government workers, state and local. Anybody know how much that is?


Michael Wells is a resident of Moloaa.

  1. Uncleaina March 14, 2019 6:21 am Reply

    Sorry but our county can’t even properly patch a pothole. But it IS pretty funny to think that they could build a monorail through the jungle!

  2. kauaiboy March 14, 2019 6:31 am Reply

    I like the monorail idea. I think a ride through Kauai’s wilderness would become greatly popular for both residents and visitors alike. But we’d have to figure out how to carry the wild boar carcasses back to the terminals without creating a mess and grossing out the vegans and faint-of-heart.

    Housing. Not a bad idea. Might be better to negotiate with owners of ag or open zoned land near population centers to allow a zoning change when presented with an icon-clad plan to develop affordable housing.

    Hemp on the Westside? Absolutely, with Kauai branded value added products creating local jobs and income. And it would not necessarily mean asking rich rich guys to do it. Create a public-held corporation that smart local folks could invest in to make this a reality.

  3. james March 14, 2019 7:13 am Reply

    It’s so easy to jump on the “affordable housing” bandwagon. However, no one addresses the specifics of doing it. First, why do we need affordable housing? We already have a wide range of housing options from relatively inexpensive rentals to multi-million dollars estates. The free market dictates the housing market. If you can’t afford to live here, move to somewhere less expensive. It is not a right to live on Kauai. Secondly, should we, as taxpayers, pay for others to have affordable housing. Why? What do we get out of such a proposal? Does it benefit the majority of Kauaiian taxpayers? No one subsidizes my housing. Affordable housing is a political stunt that caters to the vocal minority to get elected. Let the free market work as it is designed to and get government out of it.

  4. Oingo boingo March 14, 2019 8:34 am Reply

    How about limiting the number of flights from the mainland and put a limit on the amount of car rentals allowed on island.

  5. RG DeSoto March 14, 2019 8:54 am Reply

    Wells has written a nice little neo-fascist proposal, advocating the use of government force, violence and coercion to solve problems caused entirely by government. Good going Michael, everything you’ve proposed further trashes individual liberty and property and would subject us to the boot of the state on our necks.
    There is a lot of land available for housing…however it is locked up by silly zoning laws and fascist mandates on large landowners like the IAL initiative ( ). You’re tilting at windmills and the wrong ones to boot.
    At 74 you should know better by now.
    RG DeSoto

  6. Jose Bulatao, Jr. March 14, 2019 9:45 am Reply

    Michael Wells has come up with plausible concepts to address ways in which the complexities of “island-living” may be addressed effectively and efficiently, and yet, at the same time, protect and preserve the environmental integrity of the finite resources of our island. These concepts should be carefully analyzed and integrated into the ways in which we consider the balancing factors of meeting the demands we place on our environment without depleting the finite resources of our aina!

  7. Kauaidoug March 14, 2019 10:12 am Reply

    A monorail that tourists and locals alike could ride with beach gear or a few groceries. A monorail would be elevated so it could run alongside the highway and stop at logical points. And what has the cost been doing stop gap contra flow for all these years. Now it’s three vehicles setting up cones I’ve noticed! I’m sure that’s safety issues but good grief. How much does that cost annually? I bet we would be astounded if that were revealed but don’t count on it. We have a priceless and unique situation on Kaua’i island and we have to think out of the box for what’s good for our island and us.

  8. Kauaidoug March 14, 2019 10:20 am Reply

    Mr Wells has some very good points. A monorail is the way to go! This contraflow is a stop gap strategy whose time needs to end with a real solution. Make the bus work for the public and visitors. There should be a bus stop close to Lydgate for instance so public and visitors alike can use. The bus is useless for people working at a lot of hotels etc up in princeville. It’s still a long long walk from the highway to the Regis for instance. We need to think out of the box for our island.

  9. Kauaidoug March 14, 2019 10:24 am Reply

    For the third time attempting to post a comment yes to the monorail and think out of the box. Contra flow as a stop gap has got to go. What is the annual cost?

  10. Steve March 14, 2019 1:10 pm Reply

    Road congestion, which is steadily increasing all of our chances of serious or fatal accidents (read the news lately! …note the recent fatal accident-related traffic delays) must be controlled at the level of available guest and dwelling units (hotels and developments). Its hard, but it takes political will, integrity and leadership, demanded by the people. Difficulty in booking a rental car by imposing limitations will punish existing hotel/visitor occupancy rates and reduce revenue that helps to support the many working families on Kauai that work in the visitor and related industries. The idea should be to keep existing operations running close to peak, but limit further hotel and visitor unit development. Further, safety and emergency vehicle access alone dictate the need for 2-lane divided highways between towns–not to mention efficiency, pollution reduction, time/labor saving, etc. That’s hard too, but if Maui can make strides, why not Kauai? And as to “magic” solutions involving buses and monorails–think about how you’re gonna get around once you ride to town or your destination. Who among us, working long hours or 2+ jobs has the time to wait at bus stops to get 4 blocks from where you need to be? These solutions tend to work in high-density and urban areas, whereas Kauai is a sprawl of communities and businesses.

  11. Charlie Chimknee March 14, 2019 8:02 pm Reply

    Aloha Kakou,

    100 vehicle non stop Car Trains Kapa’a to LIHUE…using traffic monitors at the intersections to keep the “trains” rolling non stop.

    Privately owned inexpensive Jeepney vans, pick up and drop off anywhere routes. Ones dedicated to inside towns, others for inter-town transport. Allow whatever the market will bear so that waiting 5 minutes is a long time, competition drives down the cost to inside town 1/2 a buck, and inter town $1 and bit more for longer rides.
    More people will ride including tourists so drivers make a living. Tips accepted.

    List routes painted in front of each Jeepney van. Filipinos already know how to do this.

    Go to the store by car takes 45 minutes, but by the Stupid Bus it takes 4 hours.

    Privatize the transport system. Busses with 2 people on board pass through Our towns too,many times a day. Ridiculous system.

    It’s staring us in the face. Depending on the day of the week, 1 or 2 hour waits…America does not go that slow. Tourists cannot afford the bus stop wait downtime on an expensive vacation.

    Those who can…do
    Those who cannot…run for office and promises promises promises.


  12. ted March 14, 2019 9:14 pm Reply

    oh a rail, wow you’re a genius! why hasn’t oahu thought of that ???

  13. kauaiboy March 15, 2019 7:45 am Reply

    WOW. What an ill-informed and selfish comment.

    Hey James, please name your “relatively inexpensive rentals”

    “It is not a right to live on Kauai” ? Even if you grew up here?

    Affordable housing. What do you get out of such a proposal? How about the satisfaction of knowing that future generations will be able to live on Kauai and have a thriving lifestyle?

    You sound greedy and sick. Get some help.

    1. james March 16, 2019 7:32 am Reply

      So let me get this straight. If you were born in the Silicon Valley, for example, then you have a right to have all the other taxpayers pay so you can continue to live there? Why? I just don’t understand that type of thinking. Sounds like you are looking for a free hand-out. If you can’t afford to live somewhere, not just Kauai, then you need to move somewhere less expensive or make more money to afford to live where you want to live. That’s not greedy and sick, that’s the free market system working as designed. Lot’s of folks move from where they were born and raised, even other countries. You won’t be the first to have to move from where you were raised. You just don’t want to, which I understand and sympathize with.

  14. Craig Millett March 15, 2019 8:20 am Reply

    The so-called “free market” is destroying Earth and is nothing more than a fantasy invented to mask unlimited greed. Some of you should learn to respect your fellow citizens and find ways to work together for Kauai. When your “”free market” collapses you may be singing another tune.

  15. Bob July 29, 2019 2:31 am Reply

    How about a new law? 😎 I know not another. For say next 20 years only people born & raised on Kauai be allowed to buy land or a home on Kauai.
    Feels kinda commie to me but the people of Kauai and Hawaii are being robbed everyday as large amounts of once agg land is sold and subdivided by corporate heads & government connected elite rich from China and beyond. Slow down growth by giving local people of all ethnicities a chance to buy a home for their family on the island they were born on.
    As to the idea of a monorail on Kauai, far out brah! Great except for the part about more taxpayer debt bonds etc Too quick to taunt our state workers with better funded aka bigger pension funds.Not a great idea. We all know that as in the mainland many will never really receive all they were promised by polititions promising anything to get votes and funds from unions etc.

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