sprawl as native right? on DHHL’s Wailua project

DHHL project site at Wailua river

Whatever else might be said about proposed development south of Wailua river, it is sprawl...pure and simple.

Never mind that DHHL (Hawaiian Homelands) need NOT heed Kauai County zoning, and that this 'devil's bargain' aligns would-be Hawaiian homeowners with resort developers.

The prior question is whether this project fits our vision for Kauai...stipulating that Hawaiians are part of that "our".

And here we run right up against the challenge of preserving our island's 'greenbelts.

Recall that an earlier Hanamaulu development down the road was rejected, in part because the County's General Plan declared that ag land should stay ag. Just so in Wailua.

These fallow cane lands are an integral part of the open space between our towns.

Some will say, "yeah, but there's resort property already there. True, yet it's off-camera. Wot we see along Kuhio Highway is fallow cane.

DHHL's project would bring the resort development right up to the road.

And, for perspective, note that the 800 homes planned for the other side of the highway would be equivalent to a new town bigger than 11 other Kauai towns, including Wailua Houselots, Princeville, Koloa, and Anahola.

OK, so wot's wrong with sprawl? One clue can be found in the rationale DHHL uses for this development strategy. It's way too expensive to put in the infrastructure for wot would be a whole new town...without making some big bucks on a resort property, says DHHL.

Yet, that's the reason in-fill development is to be preferred...You're using existing infrastructure.

Even if DHHL were to develop the resort on the oceanside and target these funds for new housing-related infrastructure, it's not obvious that the new housing need be right there. The infrastructure funds could be applied to housing development underway on other DHHL lands in Anahola and Kekaha.

Now, DHHL tautologically touts this site as "ideally located for a new residential community because homesteaders would be able to work in Wailua, Kapa‘a and Lïhu‘e without a long commute."

True: if one builds in a field between two towns, both are closer for the residents.

Yet, that's how we're persistently losing our other greenbelts.

Even if DHHL were planning a 'green' town (which it's not), you'd have to say it doesn't belong there.

Published by Ken on March 25th, 2008 tagged Best Practices, Community Initiatives

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