HONOKA’A, Hawaii – Hawaii County is looking to better protect the unique and sacred Waipiʻo Valley in the Hamakua Community Development Plan.
A meeting was held May 18 at the North Hawaii Education and Research Center in Honoka’a, where planners worked with the community to look into ways the county can help preserve Waipiʻo Valley “as a wahi pana, focusing on protecting natural ecosystems, viewsheds, streams, managing responsible access, and perpetuating Hawaiian culture.” (draft CDP)
Hawaii County planner LeAna Gloor led the discussion.
The draft Hamakua CDP is currently in draft form and is being vetted in public meetings.
This is part of a video series that will feature the Hamakua CDP – Waipiʻo Valley discussion. The entire collection of videos will be available here:
Hamakua CDP – Policy 54
from DRAFT Hamakua CDP
4.9.3 Waipiʻo Valley: County Action
Designate Waipiʻo Valley, including the Valley rim, as a Wahi Pana and create a resource protection overlay and regulations that will protect Waipiʻo Valley’s natural resources, preserve its storied past and perpetuate its agricultural traditions and unique rural lifestyle.
The resource overlays should address the following:
- Prepare viewshed siting guidelines in the County Zoning Code for parcels along the southeast and eastern portions of Waipiʻo Valley rim (GP Policy 7.3 (b));
- Extend the SMA boundary beyond Waipiʻo Valley on the east and southeast Valley rim to ensure that greater setbacks and viewshed protections are incorporated into the review of structures in those areas;
- Collaborate with the Waipiʻo Valley community to develop a long range management plan for Waipiʻo that addresses public access, carrying capacity, resource management, and potential funding sources for on-going maintenance of streams and roads.
- Support community organizations such as the Waipiʻo Community Circle, The Waipiʻo Taro Farmers Assoc., and Ha Ola O Waipiʻo Valley in developing and implementing a community-based watershed plan based on the Waipiʻo Valley Stream Management Plan.
Rationale: In the Hawaiian cultural traditions, the term Wahi Pana is used to recognize “celebrated” and “storied” places that have significant Native Hawaiian cultural and historical heritage. A Wahi Pana can be a heiau, royal birth site, legendary site and places of significance for the people who live there. These sacred places have mana (spiritual power) and are treated with great respect, honor and reverence. Most of the studies cited in “Previous Waipiʻo Valley Related Planning/Studies” recommend designating Waipiʻo Valley as a Wahi Pana due to its significant natural, cultural, historical, and spiritual value. Comprehensive, regional, conservation, watershed, and open space plans often use resource protection overlay districts to link land use policies and conservation strategies with specific landscapes. Overlay zoning is a regulatory tool that creates a special zoning district, placed over an existing base zone(s), which identifies special provisions in addition to those in the underlying base zone. Regulations or incentives are attached to the overlay district to protect a specific resource or guide development within a special area. This policy, to create an overlay zone, would entail County Code regulations to protect the Valley’s cultural and historical resources through measures such as vehicular access management measures, establishing scenic vistas, resource protection, etc.
One existing tool that could be used to further viewshed protections is Special Management Area overlay. Currently the SMA boundary in Waipiʻo extends mauka from the shoreline to the bottom of the Valley walls. The area west and southwest of the Valley is within the Forest Reserve and Special Management Area, and, therefore, has limited development potential. However, the Valley rim on the east and southeast sides are within the A-40a Zone District, with the potential for residential and farm dwelling units. Generally, because the CZM objectives and policies are so comprehensive, the SMA is the most resource-protective land use policy overlay. CZM policies address recreational resources, historic resources, scenic and open space resources, coastal ecosystems, coastal hazards, management of development, beach protection, and marine resources. The SMA process allows the County to apply reasonable conditions to a proposal to mitigate potential impacts. This policy would apply the SMA process beyond the Valley rim. Determining where exactly the SMA boundary should be could be done via preparing a viewshed plan and siting guidelines for the southeast and eastern portions of the valley rim. This policy action is supported by existing General Plan Policy 7.3 (b) “(b) Develop and establish view plane regulations to preserve and enhance views of scenic or prominent landscapes from specific locations, and coastal aesthetic values.” See also Section 4.5 Preserve Scenic Areas and Viewsheds for more policies relating to protecting viewsheds throughout the Planning Area. For the Waipiʻo Valley Stream Management Plan, see here.
For more information, see pages 17, 189, 177, 223-269 in Appendix V4A.