Leading by bad example

SUBHEAD: Why is Kauai County hellbent on this expensive, destructive and foolhardy course? And what will it take to stop this madness.

By Joan Conrow on 28 January 2013 for Kauai Eclectic -

Image above: Wailua Beach in 1981 looking south, when the beach was much wider. From original article.

The county is proceeding with construction of the concrete Path at Wailua Beach even though its special management area (SMA) permit for the project has expired.

The SMA permit for the section of the path between Lydgate and Lihi parks was approved in 2007, with the condition that “Applicant shall commence construction of the proposed project within 2 years from the date of Planning Commission approval of this Special Management Area permit, and complete construction within 4 years.”

Now an ordinary person would read that as construction should have begun by 2009 and be pau by 2011, which it wasn't. The county, however, is saying no, that language means 2 + 4, or six years to complete. So what? Is the county now going to give every other developer similar latitude?

Further, the permit was approved when the plan was for a boardwalk on the beach. The design has been changed substantially to a concrete path alongside the highway, which should have triggered another review by the Planning Commission. But the last thing the county wants is to reopen the public process.

Instead, it's setting a terrible example by building public infrastructure too close to the ocean through use of a shoreline setback variance. It's also armoring the coastline through its use of concrete — please don't tell me a concrete foot path attached to a 3.5-foot thick wall isn't a seawall — and intensive vegetation.

At least, it sure sounds like intensive vegetation, when you consider they're spending $4,000 on beach heliotrope and another $4,000 on hala, all in 25-gallon pots. No quantity is specified, which would make it awfully hard to determine whether the supplier actually fulfilled the contract. Another $10,000 is allocated for 1-gallon pots of naupaka, again with no quantity specified.

Then there's $15,000 for grass seed that is apparently mixed with gold dust at that price in addition to $6,000 for hydromulch seeding. Though why we would want to put a chemical concoction that close to the ocean is beyond me.

Take a gander through the rest of the budget. (Scroll to the end of the document.) Some $584,000 is being spent on concrete, and $145,000 for reinforcing steel. That's to make sure if you hit that wall with your car, it's guaranteed to be a big smashup. Another $230,000 is budgeted for rock facing on the concrete wall. Additionally, $42,500 is earmarked for cops and other traffic controls, with $25,000 allocated for archaeological monitoring. The pavement markers are $8,000, though it's hard to know exactly what we're paying for, as again, no specific quantities are listed.

Some $13,000 is budgeted for signs alone – gee, who would've thought a mile marker sign cost $1,500?

Which makes me wonder how much the sign cost that was put up right in the middle of Kuhio Highway — and run over within a day — advising motorists of the new crosswalk that's been installed between Kawaihau and Hauaala roads, one of the most congested sections in Kapaa. The crosswalk was painted so people could get from the Kawaihau spur, which is not yet pau, to the coastal Path.

Yet for some reason the county says, no, we can't possibly have the Path crossing the highway at either Safeway or Kuamoo Road, both of which have crosswalks and traffic signals. What's up with that? Like so much of the Path "planning," it's all rather ad hoc and opaque.

Meanwhile, a reader sent a photo showing how broad Wailua Beach was in 1981. The county keeps claiming it's accreting — a fancy word for growing — but we all know it hasn't been this wide for decades.

Two questions remain: why are Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr., Lenny Rapozo, Doug Haigh and Thomas Noyes hellbent on this expensive, destructive and foolhardy course? And what will it take to stop this madness before it's too late for what's left of Wailua Beach?



Anonymous said...

Wailua_STposter_tmks.pdf from Kauai.gov data from 1927 to 2008 longer than the lifetime of the blogger. The beach in this period is growing.

Kip Goodwin said...

The photos from 1927 forward were collected randomly by happenstance; not a scientific study. There are gaps of several years, and time of year and tides are not recorded. The expert from Sea Grant said one foot of sea level rise = 100 feet erosion effects. The path will be as close as 12 feet from high wash of the waves as recently as 2 weeks ago, when the south parking lot flooded. The worst aspect is the division of community. Carvalho's "together we can" becomes a sick joke.

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