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Kauai In Crisis

Mayor Bryan Baptiste deals with a garden of gridlock.

PROPOSED DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS
NO.
PROJECT
UNITS
NO.
PROJECT
UNITS
1.
Princeville Mauka
950
30.
Coconut Grove timeshare
170
2.
Central/Eastern Plateau
1,200
31.
Kauai Lagoons affordable housing
82
3.
Kilauea Town Expansion
350
32.
Hanamaulu Triangle
400
4.
Kealia Affordable
90
33.
Lihue Infill
1,500
5.
McCloskey Kealia Mauka
N/A
34.
Kauai Lagoons
affordable housing
24
6.
Hulemalu Plateau
800
35.
Nawiliwili Hui
50
7.
Knudsen
1,000
36.
Puali
104
8.
Kikiaola-Mauka
600
37.
Pikake
180
9.
Princeville Shopping Ctr.
Affordable Housing
100
38.
Kauai Lagoons
723
10.
Hanalei Plantation
385
39.
Rice Camp
56
11.
Nukolii II
N/A
40.
Self Help
41
12.
Puakea III
150
41.
Schuler
56
13.
Kikiaola 250
250
42.
Kalepa
80
14.
Kekaha Mill
N/A
43.
Regency II
80
15.
DHHL - Wailua
600
44.
Kukuiula
1,500
16.
Brookfield timeshare
102
45.
Regency
320
17.
MLB - Condo
68
46.
Kiahuna
1,400
18.
Bali Hai Expansion
timeshare
200
47.
Starwood (Sheraton Exp.)
150
19.
Starwood timeshare
367
48.
Kakela Makai - II & III
115
20.
Queen Emma II
118
49.
Paanau
60
21.
Meadows
130
50.
Kukuiula Employee
Housing
100
22.
Greens
40
51.
Koloa Town N.C.
40
23.
DHHL- Anahola
186
52.
Poipu Beach Hotel
125
24.
Kealia Mauka
192
53.
Port Allen
135
25.
Kulana
110
54.
Habitat
123
26.
Kulana Kai
55
55.
Kapalawai
250
27.
Waipouli Beach timeshare

190
56.
DHHL - Kekaha
49
28.
Coco Palms Resort
252
57.
DHHL - Hanapepe
500
29.
Former Blackfield
325

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.

Looking Forward

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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