29 years ago on September 11th 1992, hurricane ʻIniki, the most powerful storm to strike Hawaiʻi in recorded history demolished much of Kauaʻi, including that property formerly known as the Coco Palms Hotel.
While the rest of us have rebuilt and moved on, the various and continuously changing amorphous owners of this property unfortunately have not. They have instead continued to offer hollow promises, waste the time of our County government, disrespect our community goodwill, and desecrate what is arguably one of the most culturally significant lands on our island.
On Tuesday, September 28th, the owners/developers are scheduled to continue the charade and present a “status update” to the Kauaʻi Planning Commission. Written testimony may be submitted to: email@example.com
It’s a shame that our volunteer Planning Commissioners, our paid professional planning staffers, and the general public, must waste our valuable time yet once again on this.
The “auction on the court-house steps” occurred less than two months ago on July 26th with TGI reporting that Private Capital Group, “a Utah-based short-term, loan-servicing company” was the successful bidder at $22.231 million.
It will be interesting to see who shows up purporting to speak for the owner/developer. They will no doubt utilize their by now well-polished double-speak to reassure the Planning Commission that everything is on track.
Perhaps they will claim the proverbial new buyer is waiting in the wings to step forward to purchase and develop the property, if only the existing permits can remain in place. They will of course play lip service to the cultural and historical importance of the place, and make still more promises to honor and preserve the same.
While hurricane ʻIniki occurred in 1992, the original Coco Palms Hotel which the developers are attempting to utilize as their “footprint” was built in 1953. This means the developers are attempting to utilize not just pre-hurricane ʻIniki permit standards from 29 years ago, but actually those standards in place when the hotel was first constructed nearly 70 years ago.
This makes no sense at all.
So many factors have changed over the past 29 – 70 years (pick your number). The coastline has changed, our population has grown, and of course, the highway and traffic flow has dramatically increased.
The hope of many in the community is that the Planning Commission and the County will soon begin the process to revoke their permits and pull the plug. Enough is enough. At the minimum, the new owners should be forced to demolish the existing structures first, before even asking for new permits based on today’s planning and building standards.
The lands we are discussing are literally the birthplace of Hawaiian royalty. There are ancient fishponds and uncountable iwi kūpuna buried beneath the sands now covered by broken-down buildings. Though my ancestors are not from these lands, my blood boils when I think of how they have been treated over the past decades.
Please email your thoughts, hopes, and dreams to our Planning Commission today. They, I am sure share our frustration and want very much to do the right thing. firstname.lastname@example.org *Attention Planning Commission – Coco Palms
For an alternative viewpoint opposing the development of a hotel and instead focused on community ownership based on a community vision, please visit: https://www.wailuanui.org Full Disclosure: I am a member of the I Ola Wailuanui Working Group. If you share this vision and want to help, please join us.
Yes, I have a bias. Kauaʻi is my home and I am oh so tired of watching the desecration and feeling the disrespect.