Thirty years ago — on Sept. 11, 1992 — Hurricane ʻIniki made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane destroying many homes and businesses including the property then known as the Coco Palms Hotel Resort located on the sacred lands of Wailuanuiahoʻāno.
Since then a seemingly endless stream of owners/developers/speculators have made our community endless promises and then gone on to break them. Over and over again they come before the Council and the Planning Commission, hat in hand, heads bowed, pledging their love for the island, speaking in lofty platitudes about the special nature of the place.
Over and over again, they come and they go – another smiling face from some other place, another actor following the same predictable script.
And the County has been the willing rube, hoping and wishing that with the next round of cards we will win and can then leave the table happy.
This is a game of 3 card monte folks and it’s well past time for us to end the con and send the dealer packing.
We don’t owe the owner/developer anything. We don’t owe them a profit and we don’t even owe them the right to build a hotel. Franky, for decades the County has bent over backward to help these folks and has gotten nothing but hollow promises in return.
Yes, the property is zoned for a hotel. But any such development must be approved and constructed according to today’s County and State laws – not the laws in place in 1952 or in 1992 but in place today.
Continuing to allow development based on a hotel footprint and density from 1952, without requiring them to build to today’s standards and without any environmental review as is required by state law HRS343 is both bad planning and illegal.
Yes, it made sense to help homeowners and businesses in the time immediately following ʻIniki. But this 30 years later stuff is nonsense.
The historical and cultural value of this property, properly referred to as Wailuanuiahoʻāno is immeasurable.
An owner that truly honored this value and cared about our community would have demolished the buildings, cleaned up the property, and partnered in restoration efforts with community groups a long, long time ago.
As the former home of Hawaiian royalty, and the final resting place of ancient iwi kūpuna, Wailuanuiahoʻāno is literally hallowed ground.
But for the various Utah-based LLC’s, insurance companies, real estate speculators, and deal-makers who have controlled this property over the past 30 years – it’s just a line on a balance sheet to be sold, traded, or borrowed against – over and over again.
The developer/owners of this property will say anything to maintain their permits and thus keep the property value at its highest point possible.
But the jig is up.
It’s time for the County to pull the plug, say enough is enough, and send the owner back to the drawing board. Too many promises have been broken, too much time has passed, too little progress has been made, and the County is legally entitled to revoke its prior approvals and require the owner to comply with today’s State and County laws.
Whether you agree or disagree, I encourage you to email Mayor Derek Kawakami firstname.lastname@example.org as well as the Kauai Planning Commission email@example.com and let them know you you feel about this – professional and courteous as always, please.
Soon, there will be still yet another meeting when the owners’ representative, whomever that new person may be – will come before the Planning Commission to make more promises. Please let our County leaders know, – enough already.