LIHU‘E — If elected to the Kaua‘i County Council, candidates running for office shared their ideas for how the next two years will be impactful to climate change, including stricter setback legislation, building codes and food production.
At a virtual forum hosted by the Community Coalition of Kaua‘i on Wednesday, all but one of the 14 candidates running for a seat on the council shared their ideas on actions they’d initiate during the next term to address climate change in the county.
Current Council Chair Arryl Kaneshiro, who supports the current shoreline-setback ordinance like many candidates running, said he’s working with the county’s Planning Department to utilize coastal-erosion projections to properly notify developers.
Former mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. reiterated the importance of the 2018 General Plan that he was a part of the creation of, which explicitly outlines how the county should prepare for climate change.
Councilmember Mason Chock said preparation can be done in regional town planning, like in the West Kaua‘i Community Plan that is currently before the council for consideration. Chock also talked about updating the building code to eliminate greenhouse gases.
“If we don’t make a conscious effort right now our economic viability of the county will be impacted,” Chock said, noting that the county’s credit rating could be at risk.
Councilmember Felicia Cowden pointed to watershed management. Cowden, who was inspired to run in 2018 after the floods on the North Shore, said it’s important to watch erosion and care for riversides.
“Bigger than any other issue is the impact of flooding,” she said.
She further pointed out how the difference in land saturation should be taken into account when building development, and the county could save itself in the future by looking into this issue now.
How the council could focus on climate change, Ed Justus recommended a climate sub-committee.
Two candidates, Billy De Costa and Jade Wai‘ale‘ale Battad, focused on how food production can be harnessed to create a sustainable island that prioritizes locally-harvested goods.
Wai‘ale‘ale Battad also suggested expanding the committee goals of the county by adding an agriculture-focused one.
Councilmember KipuKai Kuali‘i, noting the current Hazard Mitigation Plan and other county initiatives, suggested expanding resilience centers around the island, which could act as community hubs in case of emergencies, like the Wainiha Community Resilience Center.
“The county is already doing great stuff, we just need to expand upon it and do more,” he said.
Dr. Addison Bulosan, a small business owner, pointed to updating infrastructure to make towns more walkable, and he would consider decentivizing business practices that contribute to climate change.
“As a business, it’s conscious choices that we have to make,” he said.
The forum can be seen on the Community Coalition of Kaua‘i’s Facebook page.
Sabrina Bodon, public safety and government reporter, can be reached at 245-0441 or firstname.lastname@example.org.