HoKua Place comment deadline

SUBHEAD: Monday, June 22nd 2015 is the last day to submit your comments on major new development in Kapaa.

By Bill Peterson on 28 May 2015 for the Garden Island News - (http://thegardenisland.com/news/opinion/guest/the-hokua-place-development-in-kapaa-an-alternative-view/article_9b276715-9373-532f-9ae5-ee71cc1d65a5.html)

Image above: HoKua Place EIS preparer and former DLNR Director Peter Young, appointed by Gov. Linda Lingle was grilled for the fifth day of his reconfirmation hearing in 2007. He later resigned to reenter activities in real estate. From (http://archives.starbulletin.com/2007/04/19/news/story05.html).

An important deadline is rapidly approaching.

If you want to have any say about the proposed Hokua Place Development plans to build 769 housing units near the Kapaa Middle School, you need to speak up now.

The Hawaii Land USe Commission (LUC) welcomes and invites written testimony on agenda items via several methods:
  1. via e-mail:   luc@dbedt.hawaii.gov
  2. via direct mail to State Land Use Commission, P.O. Box 2359, Honolulu, Hawai`i  96804
  3. by fax at (808) 587-3827
  4. or, in conjunction with oral testimony at an LUC hearing.
Regardless of format, the Commission requests that written testimony on an LUC meeting agenda item be submitted at least 48 hours prior to its scheduled meeting to ensure that the testimony is posted to the LUC website and made available to the Commissioners before the meeting.

*Note:  Submittals made after this deadline may not be processed and/or circulated prior to the meeting but will be made available to the Commissioners as soon as they are processed.

Comments on the HoKua Place Development Draft Environmental Impact Statement will be accepted by the state of Hawaii Land Use Commission until June 22 at:
Land Use Commission
If you want your comments and concerns to be considered as part of the EIS process, they should also be submitted to the EIS preparer, Hookuleana LLC,
Peter Young EIS Preparer
IB Publisher's note: Please send your comments to all the following as well: 
Kauai Planning Representative

Kauai Council members

Mayor Bernard Carvalho

TGI News Editor Bill Buley
The recent article on the front page of The Garden Island entitled “Developer pitches bypass connection” (Saturday, May 23, written by Ryan Kazmirack) mentions that the developers of the HoKua Place project plan to build a new road through the proposed housing development connecting Olohena Road to the Kapaa Bypass. It quotes project principal Greg Allen as saying, “We know that we need to put in the roads before we put in the houses.”

The implication is that this road will be sufficient to handle the increased traffic from the HoKua Place development without further adding to the existing traffic congestion in the Kapaa corridor.
The article goes on to describe the development plans as calling for “86 single-family lots and 57 townhouse units to be built on 97 acres of land.”

A more revealing description would be 86 single-family lots and 683 multi-family units in those 57 townhouses.

That is 769 family homes — assuming the current Kauai average of 2.99 persons per household from the last census, we are talking approximately 2,300 people added to our local Kapaa population.

According to the final version of the “2012 Kauai Transportation Data Book,” the County’s own “Multimodal Transportation Plan” states:
“Kauai has the highest ratio of registered vehicles to population in the state, and is the only county where there is more than one vehicle registered per person.“
That would indicate those 2,300 people will have next to 2,500 vehicles.

That seems an exceptionally high number, even to me. But at a minimum, I would estimate an additional two vehicles per household, or 1,539 vehicles.

Add that to the morning and afternoon rush hour!

The developer’s own Traffic Impact Assessment Report, written in 2012, as part of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the HoKua Place, Phase 2 Development, suggested a very modest additional 394 vehicles will be added to the peak morning rush hour and 487 to the afternoon peak rush hour.

It also noted that the traffic flow through the Kapaa roundabout and the intersection of the Kapaa bypass and Kuhio Highway were already rated “E” and “F” (failing grades for level-of-service or traffic flow).

Little or no traffic mitigation has been done since that report was written and the traffic has grown noticeably worse over the last three years.

And, of course, their Traffic Impact Assessment Report did not take into account the recently approved projects in Kapaa at Coco Palms, the Coconut Beach Resort and the Coconut Plantation Village.

Considering the Kapaa roundabout already resembles a parking lot during peak periods, it is difficult to see how even these optimistic numbers could be sustained.

Yet according to the developer’s Traffic Impact Assessment Report, “Traffic impacts due to the project are not considered significant.”

The gist of the developer’s report seems to be “The traffic situation in Kapaa is so bad now, we can hardly make it much worse.” (this is not a quote — just my interpretation).

The developer is depending upon the state and the county to take care of the traffic problems along the Kapaa corridor.

The Hawaii State Department of Transportation does have plans in place to address some of these issues. An HDOT project to add a lane to Kuhio Highway from the Kapaa bypass to the Kuamoo Road intersection at the Wailua Bridge is scheduled to start construction in 2016, subject to federal and state financing.

HDOT is also looking at adding a lane and opening the north end of the Kapaa bypass to two-way traffic, although no project is currently scheduled or approved. They also have plans to tweak the traffic lights along Kuhio Highway to hopefully improve the flow of traffic. These changes may help, if and when they are ever implemented.

However, there is a Republican majority in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate these days, and federal funds for highway improvement have traditionally not done well under Republican majority budgets.

State highway financing also has a way of ending up in projects on Oahu and Maui, rather than Kauai. Highway projects on Kauai also tend to take longer than projected to be completed even at the best of times.

Optimism is wonderful, but building an additional 769 housing units today, in the hope that the state and county can solve the traffic congestion issues sometime in the future, is a fool’s game.

It is clear why the county government supports the HoKua Place, phase 2 development; it should provide an additional $1 million to $1.5 million in pre-exemption real property taxes annually.

The estimated retail value of the development ranges from a low of $209 million to a high of $276 million, including the 86 single-family homes and 683 multi-family units.

That is a lot of tax revenue for the perennially cash-strapped county to spend.

But even the county has evidenced some misgivings about the traffic impact from the project, as noted in the “Comments from County of Kauai Department of Public Works and Responses, dated June 6, 2014,” quoted on Page 133 of the Hokua Place DEIS.

There is much to like about the proposed HoKua Place development, phase 2. The developers have put a great deal of effort and research into trying to come up with a sustainable community that will provide a mix of middle- and low-income housing to respond to a growing population on Kauai.

Unfortunately, until the issue of traffic congestion can be adequately addressed, it is a development that the Eastside of Kauai cannot afford. If it is allowed to go forward, then it will be clear that money — not the needs of the people of Kauai — speaks loudest to our elected officials.

“HoKua Place Section 343‐5e HRS Draft Environmental Impact Statement“, available as a PDF at http://oeqc.doh.hawaii.gov/Shared%20Documents/EA_and_EIS_Online_Library/Kauai/2010s/2015-05-08-KA-5E-DEIS-HoKua-Place.pdf

“2012 Kauai Transportation Data Book” - Final Version

Besides the Traffic its the Growth

SUBHEAD: Three quarters of HoKua Place is made up of multistory apartment buildings. It's a formula for unraveling what is Kauai.

By Juan Wilson on 18 June 2015 for Island Breath - 

Image above: Greg Allen Jr., a minority partner in the proposed HoKua Place subdivision in Kapaa, works on some electrical wiring at a construction site on Friday in Wailua.. From (http://thegardenisland.com/lifestyles/talk_story/talk-story-greg-allen-jr/article_969bf9fc-af50-11e4-918f-3facecd60271.html).

I know that this rambles off the subject of the proposed HoKua Place development in Kapaa, but I want to pull back a look at this in a wider perspective just now.

One of the paradoxes of the discussion about development is that it is argued that the reason we have to take on a project (to expand urban development, expand a commercial strip or widen a highway) is to "accommodate" inevitable future Growth. If we don't go along there will be terrible consequences.

Well that's just plain bullshit! By training and practice I am an architect and planner, now retired. I have heard that refrain about the need to build for half a century.

Much of the motivation to do speculative real estate development is cover past debts and make money by getting investors in on a deal.

It would seem Kapaa resident Greg Allen, a principle in the HoKua development scheme, has some pressure to make a deal. This from the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) on May 13, 2011. See (http://hawaii.gov/dlnr/chair/meeting/submittals/110513/K-OCCL-Submittals-K3.PDF):

On February 14, 2006, the applicant asked and received a two year time extension or KA-3 121 to complete construction by May 23, 2008 (Exhibit 2).

On April 25, 2008, Mr. Allen asked for a second time extension of three years to complete construction.

On June 13, 2008, the BLNR approved the request to extend the construction deadline until May 23, 2011 (Exhibit 3).

On February 22, 2011, Mr. Allen asked for a third time extension of three years to complete construction.

On March 9, 2011, the OCCL asked the Kauai District Land Office agent to conduct a site inspection of the subject parcel (Exhibit 4).

Mr. Allen indicates the SFR’s slab was poured, the rebar installation was completed, well was constructed, 3/4 of the retaining walls have been constructed and landscaping was completed.

Mr. Allen notes he is still under financial pressure from the other development projects that he owns, and he has been unable to divert financial resources to completing the SFR. Mr. Allen indicates he hopes to complete construction within three years.

It should be noted that Peter Young, of Hookuleana LLC, was the EIS preparer for HaKua Place and was the director of the DLNR during the time that Greg Allen was getting his construction deadline extensions from them. Given the history above, he's possibly not the man to be steering a large project through the complexities of planning and implementation.

The mantra for the need for Growth is a cover story that developers, speculators, contractors and tax collectors have conjured up to produce Growth, not adjust to it. To "accommodate" means to "make space for" or to "fit in with the wishes or needs of". What we need to due now is to accommodate "no Growth" on a planetary scale.

Modern capitalism requires Growth or it dies. It is built on debt that can only be repaid with Growth and inflation. This economic model has hit the wall and no longer have the resources to continue. The Earth has become a crowded Petri dish, and is clogged with the toxins of humanity's waste.  Growth is no longer if we want to live in a habitable world.

We on this little island in the middle of the blue sky-ocean are a microcosm of the world. If we cannot turn away from Growth what chance does the Earth have? This is the year to get it together or fail at tackling the issue of Climate Change. 

Today Pope Francis issued an encyclical on Climate Change. See (http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/encyclicals/documents/papa-francesco_20150524_enciclica-laudato-si.html).

In it he argues that:
 "a broad sweep of human activities -- from a blind worship of technology to an addiction to fossil fuels and mindless consumerism -- has brought the planet to the "breaking point."

"The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth," Francis said. "In many parts of the planet, the elderly lament that once beautiful landscapes are now covered with rubbish."
"We need to reject a magical conception of the market, which would suggest that the problems can be solved simply by an increase in the profits of companies or individuals" 
At the end of 2015 the world's nations will come together in Paris at the 21st Conference of Parties (COP21) talks to hammer out agreements to mitigate and reverse Climate Change. If the talks fail and the Pope's encyclical is ignored then we will have failed as a sentient species.

There is no time left. Growth is Dead! 

The wishes of the people of Kauai are to keep our island rural in nature. With a steady state population that would be possible. Our pleasures are largely the result of the beauty and features of the land, the ocean and our pleasant weather. We are not living on Kauai for the shopping and entertainment opportunities, or else we'd be in Honolulu or Las Vegas.

If you take away the debt - and the pressures to make the monthly mortgage and car payment, cover utility bills and cellphone costs - most people on Kauai would not have to be holding down full time jobs (or multiple part-time jobs) just to keep their nose above water. They would not have to be addicted to cable TV, FaceBook, alcohol and drugs to escape their days.

One thing I think we've been avoiding and need to face is debt forgiveness. It's something the Greeks are about to deal with very soon for failure keep up the pretense of being a modern industrial economy. They are not one and will likely be forced to leave the European Union for failure meet unpayable debts.

The trillions of dollars of financialization that has floated the gutted world economy since it collapse in 2008 will never be paid back.  One solution is forgiveness. If we can forgive the debt we can get off the treadmill. it will be difficult and painful, but the alternative is worse.

Wendy Raebeck Testimony

June 19, 2015

re:  DEIS Hokua Place, published 5-8-15 by OEQC

Aloha Land Use Commission,

Planning for the small island of Kaua`i is about proper long-term management of limited resources.

Piling more layers of population and traffic upon our already-congested East Side makes no sense.

Aside from our clean air and relatively clean oceans, the Garden Island’s phenomenal natural beauty, rural character, and relaxed ambiance are its primary attractions. There’s nothing relaxing about traffic jams; they’re what we and our visitors are here to escape.

Why is our County even considering a development on the scale of the Hokua housing project proposed for Kapa`a?

Kapa`a and Wailua residents are already tearing their hair out trying to get to and fro from work or errands. It now takes hours to perform the simplest tasks of shopping, banking, and getting gas. (I work mostly on the North Shore, and have actually moved from the House Lots to the north end of Kapa`a to save numerous hours per week not negotiating traffic.) Meanwhile our County has approved three more HUGE resorts smack in the middle of the congestion. And now a whole new city—86 new houses, 683 new apartments, and at least 1500 more commuting vehicles daily? And re-zoning the land from Agricultural to Urban so this development may proceed?

Who are the winners, and why?

The single protection that land has is to be zoned as Ag, wilderness, preserve, park, or the like. Zoning with a long view as to how things will play out later is key. Zoning laws are LAWS. And we are to follow them. To make exception for ANY developer sets a precedent that mocks our county’s guidelines and protections. It makes a sham of government itself—when government breaks its own laws, we’re all in trouble.

The land in question is zoned Agricultural to protect Kapa`a Town and vicinity against over-development, and was thusly zoned by those who respected the `aina, wanted our island to remain special through the decades and centuries ahead, and recognized that food would one day be critical and having enough land to grow it would mean the very survival of our tiny remote island.

Now there’s talk of trading away this food land for fancy houses, token rentals for low-income locals (a broad demographic that can easily include newcomers from the Mainland), and a vast sweep of concrete, access roads, lights, utility grids, sewer infrastructure, roads, telephone poles and lines, signage, sidewalks, driveways, not to mention the tremendous disruption, noise, and traffic impediments that come with two years of construction. Plus the thousands of humans to be installed and the burden they’ll place on the small town of Kapa`a.

And we lose forever the land, the opportunity to grow food on it, the lush foothills of Sleeping Giant, the lovely vistas that restore our souls, and the irreplaceable habitat for all the flora, fauna, birds, bees, and crawly things we know, love, and depend on for the overall ecosystem. Not to mention whatever befalls our watershed.

The consideration of something such as Hokua Place sincerely questions why we’ve even conversed about honoring Hawaiian culture, and protecting our environment and our Ahupua`a. It questions whether we care about our island at all, and questions the vows our public officials took upon entering office. I know that common sense and any kind of conservation are dinosaurs from a day gone by, yet Kaua`i was always a breath of fresh air. Is it not our kuleana to keep Kaua`i that special place?

Approval of this development is unwise, unpopular, and requires changing the law to service the few at the expense of the many. (And the solution is not new roads—as the Hokua developers and others are proposing—but putting new housing and resorts in areas of Kaua`i that can accommodate them. Not Kapa`a or Wailua.)

Don’t let Hokua happen.

With deep love for the `aina and commitment to protecting it,

Wendy Raebeck

P.S. Keeping a place pristine and beautiful has never been bad for its economy, but quite the reverse.

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