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PLAN CALLS FOR FEWER ROADS AS WAY TO DISCOURAGE PEOPLE FROM MOVING HERE

APRIL FUHL

WEST HAWAII TODAY

AFUHL@WESTHAWAIITODAY.COM

KAILUA-KONA — Fewer roads, not more.

That could be the future of West Hawaii as officials are considering an unprecedented, if not drastic, solution to reduce Kona’s swelling traffic and population problems: They want to do away with motorized roadways as a way to discourage more people from moving here.

The plan, pitched by councilman Layne McRoute, could also encourage those already here to move away by making it tougher — and slower — to get around, thereby alleviating the leeward side’s increasing numbers.

But it shouldn’t be seen as punitive measure, the councilman added. Rather, it places a threshold anyone must consider if they want to call paradise home.

“Did you move to Hawaii to make your friends jealous, or do you really want to live here?” McRoute said.

The idea to strip away roads was initially started by the grassroots neighborhood organization, More Local Than You. The group began a petition and waved signs calling for the council to take up action after a subdivision was legally proposed on a piece of land that was long ago

designated for exactly that type of development.

The group said the subdivision didn’t fit their neighborhood for a variety of reasons, including traffic and just because.

“I don’t have any children, but if I did, I would be thinking of them,” said the group’s founder, Hue Pale. “For their safety, and the safety of their children.”

Some roads are already on the block to be closed.

Under the new plan, Kuakini Highway to Palani Road would be reduced to bike and foot traffic only. So would Queen Kaahumanu Highway from Makala Boulevard to the airport. Alii Drive would only be open to mopeds only and Lako Street would be turned into a flume.

Other roads wouldn’t be closed to traffic completely, but drivers would need to get a valid permit to traverse them.

Those include the upper road and Kaiminani Drive. To qualify for a permit, drivers would have to pass a written test on what Kona looked like prior to 1980 as well as an oral exam pronouncing perfectly the names of the streets on which they wish to drive.

Opponents call the idea ludicrous.

Would fewer open roads lead to less of a population? One council member thinks so. HAWAII TRIBUNE-HERALD/FILE PHOTO

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