Hawai’i’s Kaua’i County has been working on several fronts to create more walkable, bikeable, and transit-friendly communities on the island, including the adoption of a countywide multimodal land transportation plan, and recent work on Community Plans for Līhu’e and South Kaua’i.
A straw poll conducted by the county in June of last year identified walkability and affordable housing as key concerns among County residents. The poll found that 37% of community members felt unsafe when walking in their community and 27% said housing is too expensive—only a quarter of the island’s residents can afford most of the housing inventory available. The South Kaua’i Form-Based Code is seen as a “pilot” to ensure development patterns can improve walkability and increase affordable housing stock while preserving the County’s rural character.
“Our area’s beauty and natural setting attracts worldwide interest, which is reflected in its high housing costs and resort-style development proposals,” said Marie Williams, Long-Range Planner with the Kaua’i County Planning Department. “The South Kaua’i Form Based Code will encourage appropriately scaled infill development and ensure new greenfield development provides a variety of housing types. We hope this will translate to workforce housing adjacent to Kaua’i’s largest resort center.”
Opticos worked with PBR HAWAII, a Honolulu-based planning consultant, on the South Kaua’i plan, which includes the historic plantation-era Kōloa Town and the resort community of Po‘ipū. Local stakeholders strongly favored infill development within existing communities over greenfield development in the planning area. A Form-Based Code was created to regulate infill, preserving the character and compact village-scale of the existing communities.
“We cannot stop growth, I know that for a fact,” said Kaua‘i Mayor Bernard Carvalho, Jr., “but we can surely manage growth to determine how we’re going to grow, where we’re going to grow, and where we would like to see development or not.”
Photo: An aerial view of the Po’ipū region