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Last chance to speak up on housing project

Once again, we have the opportunity to stop Hokua Place, the proposed development on 93 acres behind Kapaa Middle School with 769 dwellings.

Hokua Place has submitted a petition to the State Land Use Commission (LUC) to change the zoning from agriculture to urban. The developer has also submitted a Final Environment Impact Statement (FEIS) that must be approved by the LUC, who will come to Kauai to hold a pubic hearing from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 17 at the Sheraton Coconut Beach Resort in Kapaa (behind Longs). Fifteen copies of your testimony must be handed in before speaking. Testimony can also be emailed at least 48 hours before the hearing to dbedt.luc.web@hawaii.gov

The rules for testimony are very strict. Public testimony must address specific points in the FEIS, e.g. traffic. It isn’t enough to say “Hokua Place will create even more crippling traffic in Kapaa, which has diminished our quality of life here.” You must provide a specific example from the FEIS to show how the traffic study is flawed, outdated, etc.

Since the FEIS is 150 pages long, I will spare you the time reading it. This will give you the information on what and where I found a discrepancy or error in the document, which must be clearly referenced in your testimony.

Housing

Looking at the chart, you can see that 231 multiplex dwellings will be affordable, which is 30% of total 769 dwellings, as mandated by county law for affordable housing. The highest priced dwellings are single houses on a lot, which can be purchased for: $650,0000 to $1,250,000.

The largest number of dwellings, 452, are multi-family dwellings/condos, priced from 250,000-$350,000.This is where we have to look more closely. I have confirmed that there will be monthly maintenance fees for these condos just as there are for all condos on Kauai. The lack of transparency regarding monthly maintenance fees is a serious omission in the DEIS, because monthly fees make the Hokua Place multi-family condos much more expensive than listed. It is also common for maintenance fees to go up over the years as buildings age. The going rates for condo fees on Kauai are $700 to $1,200/month. That’s a big chunk of money to overlook in the FEIS.

The chart describes “POTENTIAL PRICING” of the units in the development. Potential prices are noted in “2015 US Dollars” and “Final Pricing is “subject to market conditions.” When people look at the chart to see the listed prices, they need full disclosure to know if they can afford it. The above chart is inadequate and misleading.

Transportation/traffic

Picture another 1,300 vehicles pouring onto the bypass and Kuhio Highway in downtown Kapaa. Frightening? Unbridled gridlock traffic may be the most worrisome impact for both residents and visitors. There is good reason for that, given the prolific traffic jams now crawling along from north Kapaa to the Wailua River and back. Traffic madness can be anytime, not just during commuter hours.

Access or egress to and from Phase 1 of Hokua Place will be via driveways along south Olohena Road. Access to/from Phase 2 will be provided by an intersection at Kapaa Bypass Road. The two intersections will be connected by a roadway, running through the property, referred to as Road A, which the developer hopes will mitigate the project’s traffic at the roundabout.

Outdated traffic analysis

The State Department of Transportation did studies in 2015 and March 13, 2017. The traffic has exponentially increased since these outdated studies were performed and the developer’s foresight appears to be blinded to that reality as he comments on impacts of the development: “The Hokua Place access intersections at Olohena Road and the Bypass Road are expected to operate at satisfactory levels of service during the AM and PM peak hours of traffic.”

Right now, Olohena Road with two lanes, is jammed with school buses and parents dropping off kids and will worsen with several driveways and Road A pouring onto it. “The existing traffic congestion on Kuhio Highway through Kapaa Town can be mitigated by restricting on-street parking and re-striping the shoulder lanes to provide additional through lanes.”

Other such foolishness is expressed when they say it’s a 10-minute walk to Kuhio Highway in Kapaa Town along the bypass road. (dangerous without sidewalks and more like a 30-minute walk).

Additionally, the traffic analysis does not adequately take into account the visitor count/day. Where are these numbers in the traffic analysis? Add that to the new developments already approved: Coconut Beach Resort, Coconut Plantation Village and Coco Palms in the Wailua corridor.

Please testify for the love of Kauai.

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Gabriela Taylor is a resident of Kapaa.
Source: The Garden Island

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