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Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Kaʻū News Briefs, Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2022

A Punalu'u Coastal Access & Resources Subcommittee has been set up by the Kaʻū Community Development Plan Action Committee, along with other committees to study Green Sands Beach, Pohue Bay and Kupuna Housing.
Punalu'u Photo by Peter Anderson

KAʻŪ COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT PLAN ACTION COMMITTEE set up Investigative Subcommittees on Wednesday on four topics, three of them concerning the Kaʻū Coast. The subcommittees are Punalu'u Coastal Access & Resources, Green Sand Beach Coastal Access & Resources, Pohue Bay Coastal Access & Resources and Kupuna Housing for Na'alehu. The Action Committee also named its Chair, Leina'ala Enos, Vice Chair Pernell Hanoa and Secretary Catherine Smith.
    The coastal subcommittees relate to the Kaʻū Community Development Plan's Implementation Actions. One of the Actions listed for its Guide, is to "Pursue potential synergistic projects," including, "Develop and implement plans for Punalu'u." It says, "Punalu'u features a unique combination of significant resources: ecological (turtle nesting, wetlands), cultural (historic sites, natural beauty), recreational (shoreline access and trail, beach park, fishing, boat launch, golf course," and economic (boat launch, vacation rentals). However, not all of these resources are sufficiently protected or actively managed."

    The Guide also notes that "Punalu'u is in the State Urban district, and it is zoned for residential and resort development (both by the County and Department of Hawaiian Home Lands). However, the existing water and wastewater system infrastructure appears to be in poor condition and significant maintenance, repairs and upgrades may be necessary. Moreover, portions of Punalu'u for development are vulnerable to hazards, including wildfire, floods, tsunamis, and sea level rise."
    The Punalu'u Subcommittee is comprised of Pernell Hanoa, Jesse Ke, Kaweni Ibara and Kaohinani Mokuhali'i. Green Sand Beach Subcommittee is comprised of Leina'ala Enos, Babette Morrow, Jason Masters and Kaweni Ibarra. Pohue Bay Subcommittee is comprised of Jason Masters, Catherine Williams and Pernell Hanoa. The Kupuna Housing Subcommittee is comprised of Leina'ala Enos, Babette Morrow and Jason Masters.
    The subcommittees are set up to engage with the community, government, stakeholders and others and to bring its ideas back to the Action Committee, which serves as an advisor to the county Planning Department and its Director. Representatives of the Planning Department attended the meeting and vowed to provide its resources.
    In suggesting the Punalu'u subcommittee, Hanoa said he envisions exploring "What kind of development want to see there and not see, and malama the coast. Only got one Punalu'u. If it's gone," there is nowhere else with easy access to the coast. "If you're from Kaʻū, you spend time down at Punalu'u and your 'Ohana spends time there." He said that he and others working on the future of Punalu'u want to get the community more involved." Ke said that Punalu'u is "so important" for her, her children and grandchildren. "What happens if we lose it?"
     Masters suggested the Pohue Bay subcommittee and mentioned the irony of Pohue being a place where no one can easily drive; Punalu'u is a place with easy driving access for the community, and Green Sands Beach is a place with no easy access but people drive there all the time anyway. Regarding Pohue, Hanoa said the National Park Service, which recently purchased more than 16,000 acres around Pohue, wants feedback, input, how to make Pohue accessible, "make it safe, malama the place."

Members of the Kaʻū Community Development Plan Action Committee met at Pāhala on Wednesday
and take their next meeting, Wednesday, Dec. 7 to Nāʻālehu Clubhouse at 5 p.m., public invited.
Photo by Julia Neal

    Enos talked about her concern for Green Sands Beach. She noted the recent San Francisco Gate article bringing the issue of its overcrowding and desecration "to the forefront." Enos said everyone knows people who desecrate and people who want to stop it." She said people depend on the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands and the county to manage the place, but that the people need to be more involved.
    Enos also suggested the Kupuna Housing subcommittee and suggested working with O Kaʻū Kakou, the community organization which has raised funds and purchased land for the project in Nāʻālehu.
    Other topics that could become the focus of subcommittees in the future included the fate of Na'alehu Theatre, suggested by Williams, and the future of the Kalaiki Road, the old sugar cane haul road between Pāhala and Nāʻālehu that is frequently washed out. Mokuali'i, who suggested the topic, said that the road is experiencing more traffic from visitors and people who have purchased subdivided property along its path. The county is taking care of a small part of the road above Nāʻālehu and ranchers have been helping after flooding to fix the rest. With continued traffic and erosion, she said, it is becoming more dangerous. She noted that without it there would be no access between Pāhala and Nāʻālehu when Hwy 11 is closed.

    The next Kaʻū Community Development Plan Action Committee meeting is set for Wednesday, Dec. 7, 5:30 p.m. at Nāʻālehu Clubhouse, next to the Nāʻālehu Ballpark. The public is invited. Testimony is allowed. The Wednesday meeting was in Pāhala and the Action Committee vowed to take its meetings around the district.
    In depth information on the Kaʻū Community Development Plan and other resources are available in the online Community Development Plan Action Committee folder in the County of Hawai'i Public Documents Repository at https://records.hawaiicounty.gov/weblink/1/fol/88959/Row1.asp.The documents may also be requested from the Planning Department by calling (808) 961- 8288 or emailing cdp@hawaiicounty.gov.

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