The project Kona Village was formulated 40 years ago as part of the “Kona Vista Plan 1983” when the acreage was still farmed and buildings nearly non-existent. For it, 70 acres were rezoned from ag (agricultural) to high density, or urban district, in 1988. Back then, Lako Street did not exist (nor did Kona Vistas nor Iolani) and Lako did not serve as a connector for Holualoa residents going to Kailua-Kona or Keauhou nor for in-coming tourists.
This mauka-makai wedge may be the only sliver ever designated for such density by the County of Hawaii. Ever.
Over these 30 years, the developer has received extensions of time that were never brought before a public hearing, with his substantiation for these extensions based on little more than a report.
The proposed density is to be 5,000 square feet per housing unit but may be exceeded by the developer by narrowing roadways. Planned are 450 three- or four-bedroom units. Assuming two vehicles (minimum) per residence, and potentially two adults per bedroom, an astounding 900-plus vehicles would be added to the traffic pattern on Lako and surrounding roadways throughout the day with a yet untabulated number of future children to be enrolled in already overcrowded schools.
The developer has structured his plans around using a very busy residential roadway, Leilani Street, as Kona Village’s main route to and from the already overwhelmed Lako/Kuakini/Queen Kaahumanu Highway intersection to avoid the cost of supplying a dedicated mauka-makai connector to Queen Kaahumanu for the project. There is also mention of a future mauka route that will intersect the historical railroad trestle on Hienaloli Road.
A discussion of Lako’s impressive features is important here:
· The grade on Lako (and its feeder side streets) is steeper than code allows.
· The road is windier than code allows.
· There are no curbs, gutters or sidewalks as required by code.
· Intersections with the narrow side streets are “blind.”
· Lako has no northbound merge lane and an inadequate amount of right turn lane onto Queen Kaahumanu and Kuakini highways.
· Four busy business driveways are at the intersection, two of them entering and exiting directly from Lako.
· A public school bus route has a major stop/turn-around hub located just below Kona Vistas on Lako.
· People using Walua Trail park on both sides of Lako, throughout daylight hours.
· When the eventual Alii-Lako connection occurs, the amount of makai-mauka traffic will be huge.
· The big unknown is how many other projects have been approved along the Queen Kaahumanu and Kuakini highways that will additionally impact this location.
Before we suffer its consequences, only a few of which I’ve mentioned above, shouldn’t the county determine if this project still makes sense to occur in the way it has been proposed?
Cheryl Tanguay is a resident of Kailua-Kona.