HONOLULU (KHON2) — A historic Hawaii Island valley is gaining in popularity, which is creating controversy.
The overfill of cars has lawmakers proposing a new parking lot and it could also come with a new residential subdivision.
Pololu Valley is a pristine area on the Big Island’s northern coast, where King Kamehameha is said to have spent time as a child.
“It’s stunning. It’s just beautiful. It has deep cultural history, great significance because of the stories of King Kamehameha,” said District State Rep. David Tarnas.
That beauty has also gained traction on social media, drawing in crowds of visitors.
“There’s too many people there’s traffic safety hazards there’s environmental hazards,” Rep. Tarnas said.
A landowner has offered to donate land to the State to build a bigger parking lot as well as bathrooms. The same landowner has also expressed interest in developing a new residential subdivision on the rim of the valley. The land is currently zoned as 20-acre agricultural land.
The DLNR’s request for approval says the donation is contingent upon the subdivision being approved:
“The Owner’s donation of the Donated Lands to the State for the purposes described above in Paragraph 2 is contingent upon the Owner completing and obtaining approval of a PCRS Application for the Properties, which would include the creation of a new lot comprising the Public Parking Lands, in a size, location and configuration mutually agreed upon by the Owner and the State, not to exceed 5 acres.”
A Kohala teacher thinks both the parking lot and subdivision are not to serve residents.
“We’re not saying that we want a parking lot we’re not saying that we want a subdivision, so I think first and foremost they should listen to the people who live here,” said Aoloa Patao, who is a Kohala resident. Patao says he is a lineal descendant of Pololu.
Some Kohala residents say the new parking lot will attract even more visitors to the valley.
“More parking you’ll just have more people. The valley is overflowing. We don’t need that,” said fellow Kohala resident and Pololu lineal descendant Sarah Pule-Fujii.
The State says parking fees could pay for a parking attendant to help manage the lot, with police having to enforce roadside parking overflow.
Kohala County councilman Tim Richards says something has to be done.
“Doing nothing is not the right answer because we have to tend to that. And of course there’s the concern with how many people go into the valley and how are we going to manage that? That’s a bigger conversation that we’ve actually started the conversations with DLNR,” Richards said.