Be ready for road reopening

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.

  1. james March 25, 2019 7:19 am Reply

    Is there a plan to limit your access when you drive on the main highway past my Westside neighborhood to get to Polihole? These roads are public, paid for by all of our tax dollars. Is there something special about you that would warrant limiting our use of the roads we paid for with our tax dollars that we don’t know about? Potholes? Take a drive to Poipu down Koloa Rd, or anywhere on the Island, really. We are all in the same boat. Just because our tax funded roads in your area have been shut down for repairs doesn’t mean that you can now limit our access to those roads when they open. We like to visit the north side just like you enjoy coming out west.

  2. Toads in Da Road March 25, 2019 7:48 am Reply

    There’s a toad in da road. Waiting to explode if solutions are now showed to the whining bunch at the end of the road. Insurrection it seems has been offered as a means to cause civil unrest by those who think they know best and more than all the rest. The road of the toad is a state one at that so that’s where it’s at when demands are not met you get what you get. No chances have been missed. No reason to get pissed as your to do list will not get missed. The beaches are still being kissed by the waves and the mist while it’s pointless to resist and the fact that you persist in whining about your to do list and threatening to resist. Time to think about others while you still have your druthers not hiding beneath the covers and whining like all the others who constantly complain about their discomfort and pain caused by the big rain and the wagon train. Time to open the road little toad. Best you can your plea that it’s more than what you need to see that is best for you and me. All in good time so now quit all the things you spout and spit so get over it. When the road has been deemed safe it must be open to the public. More complaining doesn’t do anyone much good especially by you who are a toad in the road trying to hold back the opening of a state highway that serves more people than the toads in the road to change.

  3. Joe Public March 25, 2019 11:06 am Reply

    They always worried about me, me, me, But they expect to be able to drive anywhere on the island, not worrying about the traffic they cause when they crawl out of their corner of the island.

    Always think they are so much more special then the rest of us.

  4. Big Kahuna March 25, 2019 11:30 am Reply

    Well said! Several Toads in the road. So many issues on Kauai that need our leaderships attention. Housing, traffic, teenage drug use, low wages, need & Pay for teachers, roads and taking. care of our elderly. The toads in the road are fake news. Recently the cry was for everyone to claim PTSD. Perhaps the toads would benefit to see what a real disaster looks like.

  5. Arbitrary March 25, 2019 11:56 am Reply

    Dear rick Stevenson, you’re from California. You’re not even hawaiian. Please leave your gated mentality in bay area. Hope your health gets better. And don’t come to texas. Ty.

  6. RKtarded March 25, 2019 1:11 pm Reply

    too bad how quick some on the northshore forgot how the rest of the island saved their asses big time last year. practically all residence of kauai came together to help you recover. volunteering months of time, running boats, skis, vehicles… cleaning, donating – food, water, shelter, and lots of MONEY! money came in from all of HI and the mainland to support all of you on northshore. your ungrateful self centered attitudes are unfortunate. see how many come to your rescue next time you crying “go-fund-me”.

    1. Debbie April 12, 2019 9:16 pm Reply

      I agree. I gave money to help the poor people who were effected with true Aloha spirit. Now I’m not so sure anymore. I also own property on Kauai in Princeville and pay a lot in taxes.

  7. Kalaheo Guy March 25, 2019 2:02 pm Reply

    I live south shore and can’t wait for the road to reopen – I’m frustrated with the situation too. But I would rather wait a little longer and have it done right. Let’s listen to what people up north are really saying. The anger and fear they have is about the same problems we’re all facing. Too many people trying to go to the same places that have limited parking and too much traffic. I’ve seen it in Koke’e all the time since the road closed up north. We see it all over the island. I don’t think this is just a north shore beef. Wherever we have a chance to try to improve things, so Kauai folks can go to the places they want to and actually find a parking spot, and so visitors can also go there if they plan ahead, and everyone can still have a good experience without feeling overcrowded, let’s do it. I don’t think it’s too much to ask that we get answers for 1) how are we going to deal with all the illegal parking which all of us who go up there know makes that road dangerous and makes the traffic worse? 2) is the shuttle going to be ready to go when the road reopens for sure? 3) How are we going to avoid visitors just taking an Uber or Lyft ride to Ha’ena if they can’t park there? That’s going to result in the same crowds we have now. I don’t hear anyone talking about that, probably because ride share is still a pretty young business on Kauai, but watch out. That’s what visitors are used to doing everywhere else they travel and it’s going to happen up north too if there is no plan to deal with it. 5) and how about limiting Kalalau access beyond limiting the number of cars allowed to park? The trail is overwhelmed and we could limit the number of people on it by charging fees for day hikes there and putting a ranger at the trailhead to check day hike permits. There’s a unique opportunity to sort this out right now. If I understand RK’s point correctly, it’s that we should be thinking critically about how to manage overuse everywhere (been on the Canyon Trail lately?) not just up north. I want to be able to go back to Ke’e and hike Kalalau, but I also want the state to do everything within reason to fix the biggest problems before the road reopens. Let’s fix what’s broken up there and then do the same with Koke’e and other spots that are suffering right now.

  8. pointfisha March 25, 2019 4:36 pm Reply

    The most revealing part of this rant is that the author considers the road damage to be a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

    Everybody else was told that this was a disaster. But, I suppose if you and your friends actually want to find a politically expedient situation to exploit so you can get special treatment, private beaches and a North Shore gated community in place, it’s an “opportunity.”

    So convenient you did your own surveys. Not self-serving at all, eh?

  9. stinky eye March 25, 2019 10:28 pm Reply

    laughable! all any one should be be preparing for is plenty stink eye from da ice heads, mold brains, and millionaires alike of deep north hahaha

  10. Hopeful Visitor March 26, 2019 8:21 am Reply

    First, I am so sorry your island has experienced this disaster. I sent (small) donations into a couple of organizations when it happened because it’s clearly a unique, beautiful, and precious place. Even from far away, the devastation was felt.

    I am planning another visit soon and have been trying to follow as much news as possible about the road & trail reopening. While this will be a return visit for me, this time is special. My mother has had a lifelong dream of visiting Hawai’i and the time is finally right for her to come along (she was a primary caregiver to my grandfather the last few years).

    As someone that lives in a highly visited area of my city I understand the frustration of the homeowners, so I’ll say the same now as I do to new neighbors that complain about tourists, traffic, etc. in our neighborhood – we all knew before we purchased in that location that it is a highly visited area. It was SO special you chose to purchase there anyway, even at a high price.

    Is it sometimes a pain? Yes. Should there be proper protections in place to avoid destruction to nature? Absolutely. But the same reasons you are attracted to the area attract others that simply want a short glimpse into that paradise.

    We have purchased permits to hike and camp at Kalalau and purposely chose at least a year after the flood to visit to give what we hoped would be reasonable time for repairs. We are lifelong hikers with respectful practices with a simple desire to experience that special place. We abide by the rules and agree that those who don’t should pay a penalty. We too would like to know details about the opening dates and shuttle procedures and hope our opportunity isn’t lost.


    1. Kalaheo Guy March 26, 2019 11:57 am Reply

      Hopeful Visitor: You say you have permits, but who sold you the permits to hike Kalalau? Na Pali is a state park, and the state has closed it and has not allowed reservations to be made for any time in the future. Only Miloli’i is open for camping, and you can’t hike in there – you have to kayak there and there’s nowhere you can go beyond the beach really once you are there. If you try to book on the state’s website you will see that no matter what date you select, or how far out into the future, the status for Na Pali is “C” for closed, meaning no bookings are allowed. If I remember correctly, this has been the case since a few days after the floods last year. And if you reserved your permits through the state before the flood last April I would encourage you to check back. It’s not necessarily the case that the trail and park will reopen after the road re-opens. To my knowledge there have been no repairs to the trial and work to prepare it for reopening wasn’t going to start until after the road reopened. However, there has been precious little info about the status of the trail since last April, so please do check as I could certainly be wrong.

    2. Debbie April 12, 2019 9:27 pm Reply

      I am sorry you made plans. The local people don’t want it open and the local people aways get what they want.. Kauai is very much a member of the good old boys club. The locals all stick together. The next disaster I wont be giving a dime…..

  11. ATVs_really March 26, 2019 11:43 am Reply

    I love the attitude, it’s our road stay away. So everybody is riding ATVs on county roads? I am sure all of the North Shore residents love having unlicensed riders and vehicles rolling up and down the road, with unmuffled exhaust notes wafting through the breeze. Sounds like paradise!!

  12. rks353 March 26, 2019 5:34 pm Reply

    I would like to clarify I am not Rick and I am not from San Francisco. This was a copy of letters I wrote to government officials to create dialogue, research and sharing of information. It was not intended to be published in the paper as my opinion. I was hoping more research and information could be provided by newspaper. It was intended to create dialogue which I have not heard, in order to be prepared for the opening of the road. I’m fully aware this is a public road. It would have been a great opportunity to come up with innovative ideas to lessen the impact of over tourism. I’m speaking for myself, in regards to the area that is my home. I am aware our entire island is feeling the impact and looking for solutions. Do I have them? No but I hope thru discussions, education and community efforts, we can find them.
    Respectfully ~rks

    1. rick rolled March 26, 2019 8:52 pm Reply

      give it up rick

  13. Kauaidoug March 27, 2019 7:10 am Reply

    I think these cries of special treatment for north shore is incredibly short cited. Anyone who has been to kee beach in the last 3 or 4 years could see the situation was not sustainable. Way too many people. Unfortunately we have Coco Palms to serve as an example to far sighted planning on this island. That and the traffi c and recycling and housing,,,

    1. dougie hooser March 27, 2019 9:16 pm Reply

      get real doogie

  14. Hopeful Visitor March 27, 2019 1:42 pm Reply

    I purchased the permits last fall from the State of Hawaii Dept of Land and Natural Resources website and the permits were granted. I’ve hiked there before and used the same official site. I realize if it’s still closed at that time, the permits are worthless.

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