Kauai In Crisis
Mayor Bryan Baptiste deals with a garden of gridlock.
PROPOSED DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS
Coconut Grove timeshare
Kauai Lagoons affordable housing
Kilauea Town Expansion
McCloskey Kealia Mauka
Princeville Shopping Ctr.
DHHL - Wailua
MLB - Condo
Bali Hai Expansion
Starwood (Sheraton Exp.)
Kakela Makai - II & III
Queen Emma II
Koloa Town N.C.
Poipu Beach Hotel
Waipouli Beach timeshare
DHHL - Kekaha
Coco Palms Resort
DHHL - Hanapepe
Another potential solution being widely discussed on Kauai is the creation of an assessment impact fee, whereby developers would pay x amount of dollars per unit into an infrastructure fund. It's not really a novel concept, but is one that hasn't yet been employed uniformly on Kauai. "We've been pushing for an impact fee ordinance for a long time," says Abrams. "Determine what the county infrastructure needs are going to be, quantify it, spread it out to all the developers and simply say, you guys are going to pay your fair share." But on an island where the booming construction and real estate industries are giving the economy a much-needed shot in the arm, people are cautious of biting the hand that feeds them.
Like G.I. Joe says, knowing is half the battle. And most of the island's leaders appear acutely aware of the issue, and are eager to get the horse out from behind the cart. "Part of the reason we're in this situation is that it all comes down to money and it all comes down, I think, to political will over the years. People have always been divided not on the need for bypass roads, but how it looks and where it goes," says Baptiste. "And that general lack of decisiveness, I think, especially on the main highways, has caused us to get to this point, but there's nothing I can do about that now, other than look toward what we can do for the future."
As Hawaii Business went to press in August, Baptiste was busily meeting with state DOT executives, the city council and his county engineers to discuss varying strategies. One of his ideas is a five-year, use-it-or-lose-it ordinance, requiring any landowner to begin construction within five years of obtaining zoning entitlements. The idea is not to push people into development, but to make sure their plans are firm before the entitlement stage. Another long-term idea, he suggests, is to request special congressional appropriations over and above what the state allocates to Kauai each year for road construction. In the past three years combined, Kauai got a mere $27.4 million for CIP projects - less than 6 percent of the statewide budget of $465.2 million. Meanwhile, Kauai's general plan calls for a combined total of $317 million to $399 million worth of roadway improvements needed by 2020.
|JAM SESSION: From sun-up to sundown, traffic on Kauai has gotten downright unbearable Photo: Karin Kovalsky.|
Yukimura suggests yet another solution - improving the public transportation system. She hopes to expand the county's bus service, which runs a handful of daily routes to and from Lihue, and suggests doing promotional events to encourage people to ride. "Public transportation is one piece of the puzzle," she says. "But no matter what, it's definitely time to look at where we're going and whether we want to go there or not, and if we don't, we need to make some adjustments."
Baptiste couldn't agree more: "This is no doubt going to be a challenge, and honestly, I believe a lot of the things we do now may not help today, but we definitely need to start putting in the structure necessary to prevent this from happening in the future, and also to make sure we create the kind of island we want for our future generations."
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