Walking along beach path between the lavish Ka’anapali resorts, it’s hard to miss the immaculately trimmed trees, cut grass and polished statues. Everything is perfectly cleaned and arranged. Even the giant anchor near the Ka’anapali Ali’i is coated with just the appropriate layer of rust. It’s all spotless, until you get to the public beach access path next to the big anchor.
That path, which stretches from the beach walk to a tiny free parking lot just off Nohea Kai Dr., is an entirely different story. Rather than smooth concrete, the pavement is bumpy asphalt. It’s covered in leaves and seed pods that break up easily and stick to your slippers. It’s heavily overgrown with trees and has no lights, so it’s got a Sleepy Hollow feel at night.
It’s worth noting this rather striking chasm between public and private development because the Ka’anapali Development Corporation (KDC)—which used to be called Amfac—is starting to get serious about its vaunted Ka’anapali 202o project, which will mix public and private development on a considerable scale. Spread before me as I write this is their latest full-color brochure “The Ka’anapali Land Bulletin,” dated June, 2005.
Filled with images of rolling coffee fields and happy, engaged citizens as well as plenty of copy on the proposed West Maui Acute Care Hospital, the brochure paints a picture of a comfortable, sublime community that will blend seamlessly with the surround agricultural lands.
“[The KDC has] made some honest efforts to reach out to the community,” said Lucienne de Naie, a slow growth activist with Maui Tomorrow who’s been asked to comment on the upcoming project Environmental Impact Statement. “My input has always been respectfully received, which is very unique.”
The Ka’anapali 2020 land area covers an immense 4,325 acres—roughly the size of the entire 10-mile-long Iao Valley. Of course, KDC is only planning on actually building on 1,158.6 acres, but still, it’s a lot of land going under the bulldozer.
“The vision… is to create distinct communities that provide options for residents with varying lifestyles and incomes,” notes the KDC’s February, 2005 EIS Preparation Notice. “Using Smart Growth principles, a range of housing types and densities will generally extend outward from community centers.”
To its credit, KDC has promised to mix affluent and affordable homes—a truly unique plan indeed. But there will be many, many houses. The Ka’anapali 2020 plan envisions 2,810 units in total, split roughly in half between single-family homes and multi-family dwellings.
That means traffic, and lots of it. The EIS will include a “traffic impact analysis report” and the proposed project boasts all sorts of promises of “trolleys,” bicycle lanes, golf cart paths and other “alternative transportation modes,” but clearly this development will dramatically increase the already choking auto traffic on Honoapi’ilani Highway through Ka’anapali and Lahaina.
Water use is another concern. The EIS Notice projects that at build-out, the Ka’anapali 2020 development will consume an astonishing 2.3 million gallons of water every day. Considering Maui County is having a hard time hydrating existing customers today, to say nothing of the big Pulelehu and Kapalua Mauka projects already planned for the Westside, the source of all that water is a big question.
It’s a question that will have to wait. The whole planning process for Ka’anapali 2020 is a bit behind schedule. The original plan was to submit the EIS Preparation Notice in September, 2002, instead of this February, which is actually what happened. Who knows when the full EIS will come out.
In the mean time, KDC will assuredly send us more flowery project brochures to keep us occupied.