Coco Palms: The Desecration Must Stop

I awoke the other morning angry and thinking about the ongoing desecration occurring at the bottom of the hill. I’ve been driving by that place every day for the past 40 years. Since 1992 it has been a total wreck. The weeds grow tall, the buildings sit in what seems like a perpetual state of semi-demolishment, and every few years there are fires.

The owners of this property clearly don’t care about us. The former Coco Palms Resort is simply one line item among many on their balance sheet. Every few years the owners “sell” the place to developers who blow into town, tell us how much they love our island, promise to restore the place to its former glory, and then con the County of Kauai into extending the “Iniki permits” and other development concessions.

It’s been 29 years now and well past time we say enough is enough and demand that the desecration be stopped.

I use the word desecration intentionally. There are hundreds of iwi kupuna buried here.

There are ancient fishponds, just waiting to be restored. The area abounds with native birds and plants. The history both ancient and modern deserves to be preserved.

The area upon which this former resort sits is literally the birthplace of Hawaiian royalty.

According to the book, “The Story of the Coco Palms Hotel” by David P. Penhallow, the Coco Palms Resort is on an ancient site of Hawaiian royalty and hospitality situated at the mouth of the Wailua River … well known to Hawaiians as a place of many legends and events of historical, cultural and religious significance. This is the landing place of the Kahiki voyagers, who came ashore here at Kauai at about 500 AD.

Those Kanaka who have occupied this property over the years should be applauded for their conviction. It’s the foreign “owner” and the wannabe developers who deserve to be evicted for their ongoing neglect.

I warned you early on that I woke up angry. The desecration, insult, and abuse to our community and to this land is real and those in positions of leadership need to step up and say enough is enough.

The defilement of this special place has gone on way too long, and it’s sad and disgusting that we, collectively, have allowed it so.

The property should be taken away from those that now control its ownership, and developed as a community asset that honors and respects its history, culture, and sacredness. Yes, of course they need to be paid fair market value. I am angry, but not that angry.

Our County government must hold the developers to the letter of the law, revoke permits that are not in compliance, and begin condemnation proceedings. We as a community, led by those with ancestral roots in that aina must hold the vision. And yes, individuals and institutions of wealth and influence must join in partnership and support of that vision. All three components are needed and all three must join together, united in purpose.

No doubt it’s a big lift. I get that.

But we need to hold the intention.

No hotel will ever again be built on that property.

A comprehensive, inclusive community vision that honors the history, the culture, and the sacredness of that place will in fact move forward and become a reality.

Published January 3, 2021 in The Garden Island newspape – Hooser Policy and Politics

About garyhooser

This blog represents my thoughts as an individual person and does not represent the official position of any organization I may be affiliated with. I presently serve as volunteer President of the Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action (H.A.P.A.) www.hapahi.org I am the former Vice-Chair of the Democratic Party of Hawaii. In another past life, I was an elected member of the Kauai County Council, a Hawaii State Senator, and Majority Leader, and the Director of Environmental Quality Control for the State of Hawaii - in an even earlier incarnation I was an entrepreneur and small business owner. Yes, I am one of the luckiest guys on the planet. Please visit my website AND sign up for my newsletter (unlike any email newsletter you have ever gotten, of that I am sure) - http://www.garyhooser.com/#four “Come to the edge.” “We can’t. We’re afraid.” “Come to the edge.” “We can’t. We will fall!” “Come to the edge.” And they came. And he pushed them. And they flew. - Christopher Logue (b.1926)
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11 Responses to Coco Palms: The Desecration Must Stop

  1. MARK CUNNINGHAM says:

    Thank you for all you do for our Islands. Your perseverance in the face of the old boy party is commendable & righteous. Keep up the good work.
    The Coco Palms sadly reminds of the Natatorium in Waikiki. The juggernaut of State & County laziness & fear is so sad. I joke: How do the State & County fix things? They wrap yellow warning tape around it & say bum bai.
    ALOHA, MC

  2. Barbara H. says:

    Yes!! I fully agree with your words. As a youth, I worked and entertained at the beautiful Coco Palms. In her day she was a queen. I witnessed royalty from all over the world enjoying her accommodations and lavish beauty. That was then. She served us well. I think the people of Kauai deserve this precious land to enjoy and learn about this amazing location and its history. It is the pride of the ancestors. Let’s not throw that away.

  3. Carla says:

    Is there any truth to the rumors that the county has issued permits for the rebuilding of CocoPalms starting in June 2021? Supposedly right after the finish widening the road.

    • garyhooser says:

      Thanks for the note Carla…I will check into this but have not heard anything recently that indicates any rebuilding is going to start anytime soon. I think the property is in foreclosure and in court at the moment. But will check. It is clear to me and to every single person I talk to in the community that a hotel is no longer a use that people want to see. Honestly, I think that if any developer attempts to develop a hotel their in the future, the community will rise up in strong opposition.

      • Carla says:

        I would much prefer they tear down that rotten unsafe structure and turn the area into a beautiful cultural heritage park. Most people I talk to agree 100%! Surely the County could acquire the land through foreclosure I would think.

      • garyhooser says:

        I think these kinds of conversations are happening as we speak…but to purchase, demolish, convert and maintain and operate…is a significant investment. Even for the county. But I agree 100% and trying my best to nudge the conversation along. We need a wealthy landowner to step up and purchase it and donate it to the community and take the tax benefits!

      • Carla says:

        Were you able to find out anything?

      • garyhooser says:

        Thanks for checking in Carla Curious…do you live in the Wailua area? I am networking with various groups and individuals discussing what options are available. Needless to say, the process is slow…but moving in the right direction. I don’t have a lot to report at the moment.

      • Carla says:

        Hi Gary – I live part time in Kapaa. I grew up in Hanapepe in the 60s. Many fond memories of the Coco Palms. Fingers crossed it will become a cultural center and park.

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