Several issues ago I wrote about the changes that Hana Pohaku, the owners of the 2.72 acre property next to Foodland and across from Shark’s Cove, were making to that site in compliance with a Minor Special Management Area (SMA) Permit. The number of existing food trucks were reduced and extensive upgrades to the property were underway. The owners call the site “Pupukea Rural Community Commercial Center.” It’s known informally on the North Shore as “Cully’s Corner” in honor of one of its owners, Cully Judd. At the time of my article Hana Pohaku hinted at a future “final plan.”
Well, the final plan is out in the form of a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The EIS is three inches thick … mostly background material, testimony for or against the project, and filler required by the bureaucrats. The meat of the document with a description of the final site is in Section 2, as illustrated in a sketch of the site that I’ve attached. And … it’s not a bad plan. The developers plan a half-dozen businesses that “may include” (not “will include”) such yummies as a restaurant, pharmacy, urgent care facility, etc. Parking? The plan calls for 116 parking spaces by my count plus room for three busses … not bad, although of course the employees of the businesses will have to park there too. Parking will probably be a problem, but it’s a problem everywhere on the North Shore.
The developers estimate that the project total cost will be $18 million with completion and tenant occupancy in mid-2021 after two years of construction.
Now let’s talk about food trucks. One lonely sentence on the subject in the EIS hints that, “Potential locations for mobile food trucks are shown in Figure 2-6.” Figure 2-6 shows eight symbols that are food truck “potential locations.” The existing SMA limits the site to five food trucks. But five … eight … the real issue is, what kind of “rural community commercial center” will this be? Will my wife and I want to dress up and spend an evening at an upscale restaurant in the midst of food trucks? Will an “urgent care facility” abide food trucks at its front and rear doors? In my opinion the center will either be “upscale” or “food-trucky.” Can’t be both. My vote? Upscale. The proper place for food trucks is on Kam Highway by the shrimp beds near Kahuku. Not every 20 feet in Haleiwa, not strung along the North Shore surfing sites, not in this “community commercial center.” Cully Judd disagrees: “The waste-water treatment system we put in can’t handle more than one full-sized restaurant,” he says. “Right now we discharge virtually no waste water to the ocean. Food trucks waste water is collected and disposed of individually now and will be done the same way in the future. The North Shore residents need good food service and food trucks are a good solution.”
Bottom line? Hana Pohaku’s plan, good as it is, is sure to generate vocal, emotional response for and against. Some folks are sure to see it as unnecessary and unwelcome urbanization of the North Shore’s rural image. The other side will probably welcome a commercial upgrade nearer to Sunset Beach, another quality restaurant (maybe), and a better-looking site. I’m hoping that both sides will recognize the dichotomy between an upscale rural commercial center and food trucks.
Meantime, like I said last time, how about live aloha, eh?