Superferry sets off the battle of Kauai

Posted Tuesday, October 9, 2007 9:58 AM | Contributed by Jeff

[Ed. note: While not specifically amusement industry news, this story really embodies the challenge of preserving natural resources, catering to business interests and supporting a tourist economy. There is also an interest in Kauai among a number of our members, so I felt this was appropriate to share. -J]

Kauai was a sleepy, rural, largely undiscovered place until Elvis made it famous in his 1961 movie "Blue Hawaii." Each successive tide after that brought more outsiders. The tourists must share space with 60,000 residents. The main road system -- a two-lane perimeter highway -- has remained largely the same, including more than a dozen one-lane bridges.

Read more from The LA Times.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007 1:15 PM
Compelling read, to say the least. I like how the article took into account both sides of the argument. I can't help but do the same.

On one hand, I side with the island residents. They have a beautiful gem, they know it and they don't want a wave of tourism to devour it. If I were in their shoes, I would be hesitant to welcome more expensive resorts and big box stores, let alone a ferry that's going to make it cheaper to travel to Kauai and more likely to bring loads of new tourists and their belongings.

On the other hand, I think some of the residents are being selfish and a tad unrealistic. Someone in the article said it's like they climbed to the top and now want to kick the ladder away. Good call. I don't see how anyone can suggest the island be closed off to new residents, and as the world around Kauai changes, the same things the residents rue are the things that keep them employed and their economy humming.

This one's very interesting. And very delicate.

Having fell in love with the island last year, I want to see the natural beauty and independent spirit preserved for generations to come. Too much development on an island is how the current Oahu came to be, and anyone who's been to a few Hawaiian islands knows that one pales in comparison to the others, resembling Miami more than a tropical Pacific paradise. Then again, I don't agree with the, "we're here but you can't come in" mentality of the residents either. I think there is a way to achieve balance without messing things up, but both sides clearly have to agree that is not only the way it should be but the way it has to be.

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Tuesday, October 9, 2007 3:22 PM
It's not a lost cause. Hilton Head Island has some of the most ridiculous zoning possible, and despite being very busy also maintains a very tropical feel. I don't know what their rules are about the beaches, but I can't imagine they're particularly "owned" with people all over them. Take it a step further, Mackinac Island in Michigan doesn't even allow cars on the island. (Although, there's a whole small town and somewhat corrupt inbreeding thing going on there, but that's a different topic.)

Kauai has a couple of things going for it. Its most breathtaking areas are all state parks, and they're not going to be developed. Heck, I suspect that 75% of the island isn't even something you could develop on, though that certainly adds to the congestion.

As long as they continue to really lock down the zoning, they can control the growth. I understand the frustration of native islanders, but played carefully, they're the ones who can benefit the most from the tourism.

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Tuesday, October 9, 2007 4:51 PM
Yeah, most of the island can't be developed anyway. The center is a mass of mountains and canyons, with only the outer edge of the island being a candidate for development. I'd say it's at least 75%, if not more. As long as development is controlled in those areas where it's easy, I think balance can be found.
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Thursday, October 11, 2007 11:53 AM
This is kind of funny because I was there last week and everyone was talking about the how the Superferrie could make or break the Kauaian economy...
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Thursday, October 11, 2007 11:56 AM
That's pretty silly. It's not like people haven't been flying to the island for decades.
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Thursday, October 11, 2007 12:12 PM
I'm pretty sure Kauai will survive just fine without the ferry, as it has for years.

I remember years ago when that tunnel was built connecting France and England. People in England were all bent out of shape because they saw it as their country no longer being an island. Someone fired back and said England ceased to be an island when the plane was invented. I think the same thing applies here to an extent, but I still think Kauai is better off without a ferry because that will enable people to bring their own cars and further add to the traffic on local roads.

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