I am writing regarding the opening of Kuhio Highway and the impact of over tourism on the North Shore of Kauai. I’m thinking few people have thought of the impact on our community. For almost a year we have had our lives scheduled around convoy times. The road will be opening soon, yet we feel the county and state have wasted this valuable time in coming up with a plan that works for everyone.
No plan has been made available to us. The responsibility of the state and county to be upfront and factual has been missing. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to present a plan that could save our North Shore and an example for worldwide efforts to preserve our limited resources.
We are coming up to a year with the Kuhio Highway being closed. This was a force of Mother Nature no one saw coming. I certainly appreciate the work that is being done to open up the road. However, I’m extremely frustrated in the lost opportunity to preserve the North Shore of Kauai.
This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create a sustainable ‘aina that would be an example all over the world on how to do it right. You have blown it. We hear through beach talk that vacation rentals are able to start booking May 1. Really? Have any of you been down here to do a physical count of legal vacation rentals. Are you aware of the percentage within neighborhoods that are TVNC mmmm….something that stands for noncompliant. You have missed this opportunity.
I am speaking my opinion of Ha‘ena, and understand there is much more to be considered.
Have you walked the beaches to see the increased presence of turtles, monk seals, fish? Nothing is in place to protect our beaches from overcrowding of scuba and kayaking companies, leaving their garbage and peeing on the beach.
Have measures been taken to keep sunscreen out of the water and out of the air? Where are they parking? On private driveways, blocking emergency vehicle access? Are signs in place and enforcement available?
ATV, bicycles, walking are common modes of transportation here for the past year. Are you prepared to clear vegetation and keep clear sides of the roads so there is room to move away from cars?
Are you prepared to keep posted speed limits and no parking signs clear of vegetation and enforced?
Are you prepared to close, clean up the dump site? It was very beneficial to the community but needs to be returned to its natural state.
Have you seen the roads torn up from large equipment and no longer two lanes? Vegetation is never cleared from the bridges until local people do so.
The Ke‘e master plan is another whole story of its own. But there better be no parking on the highway, and if you are going to limit to 900 vehicles a day you have blown the opportunity to prepare for this to coordinate with the opening of the road.
Our community roads are full of potholes from the flood, and unattended ever since.
The shuttle is a prime piece of this puzzle, yet it’s all hush-hush on your plan, as we are not worthy to be informed until it is decided.
The visitors bureau has advertised us to death, and their responsibility should be supporting the cost of the shuttle, along with the hotels and vacation rentals.
There is so much more that could be discussed. I highly recommend you come spend a day on this side of the convoy, walk our streets, walk our beaches, walk with our community, not a few select who do not speak for all of us.
Surveys have been done by our community, not by your staff. We are not asking to be an island of our own. We are asking you, our government officials, to listen to us, lead the world by example, and not allow this special place to be destroyed by over tourism. Come walk with us, come talk story, listen to the rustle of wind and the ocean waves. We cannot afford to lose this.
You have the responsibility to be honest and upfront with us with the opening of the road and how it will be handled. Are you opening the road with flagmen and no guarantee of time delays?
You might think this is no big deal. But I’m in need of medical tests and treatment planned ahead for the first week of May, and now I’m already worried I’m not getting through. My family’s is just one story of thousands from the past year the people of this community have had to contend with.
So I invite all of you to come spend a day beyond the convoy, walk with us, talk with us. I guarantee the Kuhio Highway will be filled with walkers, bikers and much more if you choose to open the highway without any more input from our entire community. You’ve had a year to gather the information. Present a plan that can be implemented to ensure a sustainable balance between us all.
It’s quite possible you do have a plan. Please share. It’s a living document that can be changed since we don’t always foresee every possibility. It needs to be shared, and don’t dare move the start or blessing at the last moment to avoid confrontation.
Confrontation will happen if you are not upfront and factual with plans for reopening the highway and protecting North Shore from over tourism.
RK Stevenson is a resident of Ha‘ena.