LIHU‘E — Members of the Hawai‘i Alliance for Progressive Action mobilized a bulk of testimony to call against the HoKua Place subdivision’s Kapa‘a development that is before the state Land Use Commission.
However, most of the letters did not address the matters at hand for the LUC’s Wednesday meeting, Chair Jonathan Scheuer said.
The LUC met this week to discuss three motions relating to an intervention in the matter to rezone 96 acres of agricultural land to urban district land.
HoKua Place, from developers HG Kaua‘i Joint Ventures, LLC, aims to build 86 single-family lots with 683 multi-family units as well as a 1.4-acre neighborhood commercial center and a 3.1-acre community park in the vicinity of Kapa‘a Middle School.
In November 2020, HG Kaua‘i Joint Ventures sought a protective order to prevent public disclosure of financial documents.
Shortly thereafter, Liko Martin filed a motion to intervene in the matters, citing the need for agricultural lands and the strain on existing wastewater, sewage and road infrastructure. Martin, an area descendant, said there are no other parties currently involved in the process representing Hawaiian and resident interests. The petition to intervene was approved in December by the commission.
Later that month, Martin filed a motion to have the developer’s protective order dismissed. William Yuen, who represents the developer, explained that there should be privacy and redaction of certain documents pertaining to credit agreements.
After a line of questioning, at-large commissioner Gary Okuda said there wasn’t much evidence of a “detriment” or “harm in release information” on the side of the developer.
Commissioner Nancy Cabral, who represents Hawai‘i Island, said that when a developer buys a property, it should have the financials to start and continue work.
County of Kaua‘i Attorney Chris Donahoe said the county has an interest in this information, seeing that privacy was not outweighed by public interest, specifically in matters that would give the county better ability to assess the development. Agreeing, Commissioner Dawn Chang, an at-large member, said the disclosure would help the developer to establish trust, noting that this case has a lot of community interest.
At least 65 pieces of testimony came in, Scheuer reported. That includes the letters from HAPA members.
Fern Anuenue Holland, a community organizer with HAPA, submitted testimony detailing a personal connection to the area.
Holland’s testimony cites overdevelopment, an “inadequate and incomplete” environmental impact statement, a lack of “true affordable housing,” and infrastructure pertaining to traffic and water.
“Personally, I really believe that Kaua‘i has reached a tipping point,” Holland wrote.
“Our infrastructure is over capacity and failing, and it simply cannot sustain this kind of overdevelopment in this area. Aging and overstressed infrastructure is present all around the area being considered, and is evident as we sit in excessive traffic delays, drive on roads that are in disrepair, when sewage overflows into the ocean, when our school classrooms are overcrowded and our coral reefs and environment buckle under the stress of overdevelopment or development in which infrastructure needs and thoughtful planning aren’t considered first,” she said.
Commissioners moved unanimously to deny the petitioner’s request, which would result in the financial disclosures becoming public.
Scheuer, who during a December meeting strongly suggested that Martin seek council, disclosed a working relationship with the counsel Martin eventually did hire. Neither commissioners nor interested parties raised objections to Scheuer and Biana Isaki, who have worked together on subcontracts and have written a forthcoming book together.
This project has been in the wings for a decade this year. In 2011, Three Stooges, LLC, filed the petition to reclassify the land. In 2014, HG Kaua‘i Joint Ventures requested to continue the petition.
The next action should be Jan. 25, with parties filing witness and exhibit lists, according to a tentative schedule of events.
Correction: This article was updated on Friday, Jan. 8 at 10:53 a.m. to correct when HG Kaua‘i Joint Ventures sought a protective order to prevent public disclosure of financial documents. It was November 2020, not November 2019.
Sabrina Bodon, reporter, can be reached at 245-0441 or firstname.lastname@example.org.