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General Plan and Puna

Excerpts from the 2005 County of Hawai'i General Plan that are particularly relevant for Puna
You can find additional information on the Hawai'i County General plan on this page.

Chap. 2 - Economic

Agriculture currently constitutes a major economic sector of the island of Hawaii. Including processing, the agricultural industry accounts for about 9.5 per cent of the island's employment. (p. 2-2)

Unemployment rates during the 1980s and 1990s followed a similar trend as employment. Unemployment rates dropped drastically from 1980 to 1990 (6.2 per cent to 3.8 per cent, respectively) due to the County’s strong economy during this period. As the economy slowed during the 1990s, unemployment increased to 10.2 per cent by 1997. For 1997, the districts of Punaand Ka’u experienced the highest unemployment rates at 15.6 per cent and 14.8 per cent, respectively. (p. 2-10)


(p. 2-12)

The population of Hawaii County has grown steadily since 1980. According to the 2000 U.S. Census, the County’s population increased 23 per cent between 1990 and 2000. During the same period, the State’s population grew by 9 per cent. The district of Puna saw the largest increase at 51 per cent, followed by South Kohala (44 percent), North Kohala (41 percent), Ka'u (31 per cent), North Kona (28 per cent), South Kona (12 per cent), North Hilo (12 per cent), Hamakua (10 per cent) and South Hilo (6 percent).

Utilizing Series B, the County’s population is projected to grow 46 per cent to 217,718 from 2000 to 2020. South Hilo, currently the most populous district within the County, will be eclipsed by the Puna District in 2020 with an estimated population of 58,246 compared to South Hilo’s 49,791.

The Puna District will continue to experience relatively strong population growth due to the availability of relatively inexpensive lots that were created around the 1960s. The growth of the population in North and South Kohala, North Kona and South Kona are closely associated with the continuing growth of the visitor and agricultural industry within these districts.

2.4.1 Puna Profile

Economic Assessment, PKF Hawai'i, January 2000
U.S. Census, 2000
Hawaii County Department of Research and Development

The population increased in Puna as a result of employment opportunities in agriculture as well as job opportunities in Hilo. Also contributing to this increase was an inmigration into subdivided areas due to the affordability of parcels within Puna. The table above reflects the continuing population growth within the Puna District. The population in Puna during the past 30 years has increased at a substantially higher rate than the growth in employment.

Puna is primarily an agricultural district. The area also includes part of the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, large substandard subdivisions, forest reserves, and several small concentrations of population. Most of the subdivisions were created prior to the adoption of the Zoning Code in 1967 and are in agricultural zones.

Agriculture in the form of truck farming in the Volcano area; papaya in the Kapoho area; and flowers, principally anthuriums and orchids, in the Mountain View, Pahoa and Kapoho areas are important. The papaya and flower industries continue to experience moderate growth. Factors currently limiting growth of these industries are the shortage of labor, housing, processing requirements, and plant disease. Over 90 per cent of the State’s papaya production comes from this County, with the majority from the Puna district. The infestation of Puna papaya by the ringspot virus in the 1990s resulted in 1997 production levels falling 55 per cent from 1992 production levels. It also resulted in the dispersion of papaya acreage to other areas of Puna, South Hilo and Hamakua to escape the virus. With the acceptance of the genetically-engineered and disease-resistant Rainbow variety and the recent opening of a post-harvest treatment facility, the future production of papaya within the Puna district is expected to increase. The County also produces most of the State’s bananas, with the Puna district accounting for a large percentage of production. The banana industry in Puna is expected to grow at a moderate rate.

Geothermal resource utilization is a small part of the existing economy of Puna. Future expansion of the geothermal industry within the district is promising.

Except for the Kulani Prison project, there are no major government installations in the Puna district.

The Kamehameha Schools East Hawaii Campus opened in the Fall of 2001. The campus will be able to accommodate an overall student population of approximately 2,300 students in grades K-12, and become a major employment generator in the Puna District.

The visitor industry has very little visible effect on the Puna district other than some roadside stands and a few visitor accommodations, such as bed and breakfast and vacation rental operations. There are a number of visitor attractions frequented by tourists, such as the lava-inundated former Kaimu Black Sand Beach area, portion of the Volcanoes National Park, and the Painted Church.

Puna's population will probably continue to grow at a rapid rate. The major sector of its economy will continue to be agriculture, such as papaya, macadamia nuts and flowers. However, there are several problem areas that have already been mentioned as well as others such as capital requirements that have to be overcome for expansion.

There is also potential for a limited amount of visitor facilities in the form of small accommodations and support facilities, such as recreational areas, botanical parks, and others. Puna also will continue to serve as a residential area for people working in Hilo. Courses of Action


Assist the further development of the agricultural industry by providing support services to commodity groups and other organizations such as farmer's cooperatives, protecting important agricultural lands, and requesting and providing necessary capital improvements.


Resort growth should enhance and be in keeping with the area's rural character.


Assist the fishing industry through a cooperative effort with State and Federal agencies.


Support the development and utilization of geothermal resources and by-products consistent with the environmental, social, economic and other goals expressed elsewhere in the General Plan.

Chapter 3 – Energy

Geothermal Energy

(p. 3-5)

Geothermal Energy is natural heat energy from the earth that can be harnessed for direct thermal use and for electrical power generation. The four basic ways that this type of natural heat energy may be found are steam, hot water, magma, and hot dry rock.

Geothermal drilling on the Big Island started in the early 1960's. Initial wells were either found to be unsuccessful or once drilled, were not further developed.

In 1972, the Hawaii Geothermal Project (HGP) was organized to investigate the development of geothermal energy in Hawaii, as a cooperative project involving Federal, State, County, and private funds. In April 1976, a successful well was completed near Kapoho in the Puna District, and HGP installed a power plant to demonstrate that geothermal energy is an economically viable natural energy alternative for the Big Island. The plant commenced operations in 1982 and ceased in 1989.

In 1983 and with subsequent amendments, the Legislature amended the State Land Use Law, Chapter 205, Hawaii Revised Statutes, by authorizing the State's Board of Land and Natural Resources to conduct a county by county assessment of areas with geothermal potential for the purpose of designating geothermal resources subzones.

Geothermal resource subzones may be designated within the urban, rural, agricultural and conservation land use districts. Only those areas designated as geothermal resource subzones may be utilized for the exploration, development or production of electrical energy from geothermal resources. Other amendments to the State Land Use law provide authority to regulate the direct use applications of geothermal resources.

In addition, the 1983 Legislature set criteria for designating geothermal resource subzones. Three geothermal resource subzones were established by this legislative method. The Board of Land and Natural Resources has subsequently designated the Kapoho, Kamaili, Kahaualea, and Kilauea Middle East Rift Geothermal Resource Subzones. The geothermal resource subzones are shown on the Land Use Pattern Allocation Guide (LUPAG) map.

In April 1993, Puna Geothermal Venture (PGV) completed its geothermal power plant on the Kapoho Subzone on the East Rift Zone. The geothermal power plant uses steam and steam separated from hot water or brine resources at depths of around 5,000 feet below the surface. The closed loop system injects the spent fluids into injection wells at depths of 7,000 feet to be recycled. Although PGV currently produces 30 megawatts of power to the HELCO grid, PGV has been permitted under Geothermal Resource Permit No. 2 to provide up to 60 megawatts of geothermal power. PGV has been supplying approximately 25 per cent of the electricity for the County of Hawaii.

Geothermal power generation has displaced nearly 110 million gallons of fuel oil that would have been used for electricity production. The reduction in fuel oil use has resulted in a reduction in carbon dioxide and other emissions common to fossil fuel plants and contributed to a cleaner environment in Hawaii.


(p. 3-9)


Continue to encourage the development of geothermal resources to meet the energy needs of the County of Hawaii.

Chap. 4 – Environmental Quality

Discussion is more general and applicable islandwide (no specifics for Puna).

Chap. 5 – Flooding and Other Natural Hazards

(p. 5-1)

The island is geologically very young and has not had a chance to develop defined watercourses in many areas. These poorly defined watercourses often overflow during rain storms. The South Kohala, North Kona, South Kona, Ka'u, Puna and South Hilo districts are particularly impacted by this problem.

On November 1, 2000, torrential rains stuck East Hawaii. The National Weather Service reported approximately 27 inches of record rainfall at the Hilo International Airport within a 24-hour period. More than three feet of rain fell on some areas of the island, causing flooding in many areas of the County. The highest rainfall total was at Kapapala Ranch in Ka’u, where more than 36 inches was recorded within a 24-hour period. In Hilo, the Waiakea-Uka area was inundated with approximately 29 inches, the Piihonua area approximately 24 inches, Mountain View, nearly 29 inches, and Glenwood, 26 inches.

The record downfall overflowed streams and gullies, flooding roadways throughout downtown Hilo and isolating neighborhoods in some areas of the eastern side of the island. The districts of South Hilo, Puna and Ka’u were the hardest hit, with roads, bridges, power lines, businesses and homes either damaged or destroyed. In Hilo, a portion of Komohana Street was destroyed, and near Pahala, three bridges and portions of Highway 11 were washed away. During the height of the storm, various sections of Highway 11 were impassable. Most of the major storm damage on the highway occurred in the Puna and Ka’u Districts. Besides severe scouring of the roadway pavement, shoulders and drainage outlets and inlets in Mountain View, Glenwood, Volcano and Pahala, as well as bridges at the Makakupu ford crossing, Kaalaala Stream, Keiawa Stream and Paauau Stream, were damaged beyond economic repair. Portions of the highway from the 49 to 52 mile markers were closed for approximately three weeks. Farms suffered heavy damage to crops and massive erosion, telephone service was disrupted, and some residents experienced power failures for nearly 12 hours. Although no lives were lost as a direct result of the storm, flood damage was estimated at $20,000,000. On November 9, 2000, a Federal disaster was declared for the island.

(p. 5-3)

In 1982, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) published the "Flood Insurance Study" for Hawaii County. This study investigates the existence and severity of flood hazards in Hawaii. The flood boundaries for streams, and the flood insurance zones and base flood elevation lines are delineated on the Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM). These maps are the principal result of the "Flood Insurance Study," and have been incorporated into Hawaii County's Flood Plain Management Program.

Unfortunately, there have been problems with the use and accuracy of the Flood Insurance Rate Maps. It has been demonstrated that the current Flood Insurance Rate Maps are not very accurate as to the location, position, and formation of geographic and geologic attributes. Thus, it is sometimes difficult to determine if a parcel is on the Flood Insurance Rate Maps. Furthermore, there are many areas where there is no data to determine the flood potential. The absence of data does not mean an absence of potential flooding in any particular area. Therefore, there is an assumption that flood risk is minimal if a parcel is not in a designated Flood Insurance Rate Map area.

(p. 5-4)

The island of Hawaii is sinking, or subsiding, at different rates for various reasons.

Tide gauge data suggest that Hilo has sunk at a rate of 2.3 millimeters per year or approximately 4.5 inches in 50 years. At the same time, the sea level has risen about 1.8 millimeters per year, so Hilo has actually sunk about 8 inches relative to sea level in the 50-year period. Other studies suggest a slightly slower subsidence rate of 2.2 millimeters per year over 39,000 years. Hawaii is slowly sinking due to the great weight of the island that slowly bends the outer rigid layer of the earth. As the volcanoes grow, their weight is greater than what the earth can support. Large earthquakes also produce coastal subsidence. The magnitude 7.2 Kalapana earthquake in 1975 produced coastal subsidence of approximately 10 to 11 feet near Halape, 3.5 inches at Kaena Point, 20 inches in Kalapana and nine inches in Kapoho. An earthquake related subsidence event such as this is equivalent to approximately 1,500 years of slow subsidence.

Following the 1975 Kalapana earthquake, coastal areas near Kapoho continue to subside at a rate of approximately a few centimeters per year as the lower east rift zone near Kapoho slowly widens. Portion of Kapoho Vacationland Subdivision fronting the ocean are nearly completely submerged.

5.5.1 Puna Profile

The climate of the Puna District varies considerably from the rocky shoreline to the rain forest areas in the upper elevation. Rainfall amounts are generally heavy and most of the district receives over 100 inches per year. The district is subject to heavy rainfall and there is record of severe flooding.

Historically, flooding along the Belt Highway and the highway from Keaau to Pahoa had been the most prominent problems of the district. However, highway improvements have done much to alleviate the flooding on the roadways.

Currently, the lack of development and the extremely permeable soils have helped to minimize major flooding and damage to life and property. However, as the amount of development increases within the district, flood problems will also increase. Furthermore, the conversion of land historically planted in sugar to other crops may increase runoff. In this regard, Soil and Water Conservation District conservation programs can help lessen the potential problem.

Some of the flood hazard areas for the Puna district are difficult to delineate due to the lack of defined drainage ways. Recorded flood damage has mainly been caused by surface sheet flows that are likely to occur anywhere when heavy storms strike. Examples of this are found in Fern Forest, Eden Rock, Fern Acres, Orchidland, and Hawaiian Paradise Park. In addition to these subdivisions, flooding occurs in certain areas of Pahoa. Other areas, such as Hawaiian Acres, may be more defined. The flooding below Mt. View may be the result of diversion of the Mt. View watershed into some of the substandard subdivisions.

Systems that incorporate diversion channels to intercept sheet flows and main channels to transport the flows away or through the area have been proposed for the communities of Keaau and Pahoa. Along the Keaau-Pahoa Road, the State Department of Transportation (DOT) has installed culverts to facilitate the movement of water and minimize overtopping of the road in certain sections. In addition, the DOT plans to replace those culverts that are ineffective or inadequate.

Drainage systems incorporating the use of diversion channels to collect and transport surface flows safely through the area are also proposed for Mt. View. A portion of this system has been constructed.

The entire coastline is susceptible to tsunami impacts and hurricane storm surge inundation. However, much of the coastline is undeveloped and/or has high cliffs. This renders most developed areas outside of the inundation zone and not subject to damage.

On November 29, 1975, an earthquake measuring 7.2 on the Richter Scale centered approximately three miles off shore of Halape generated a tsunami that killed two people and resulted in $1,400,000 of property damage. The total damage of the earthquake and tsunami amounted to approximately $4,100,000. Courses of Action


As development increases within the district, the drainage systems designed for the existing village areas shall be implemented.


Conduct an update of the County of Hawaii "Drainage Master Plan" and the "Mountain View Drainage Study" and provide improvements as recommended by the updates.


Seek assistance to develop a comprehensive flood study for the subdivisions between and along Highways 11 and 130.


Ensure that purchasers of homes and other real property are fully informed of hazards from lava flows and other volcanic emissions

Chap. 6 – Historic Sites

6.5.1 Puna Profile

Historically, the district of Puna did not have much political influence. However, Puna is closely associated with the volcano goddess Pele. For the most part, Puna followed the course of the adjacent districts of Ka'u and Hilo. No strong family lines evolved in the district for power over any of the other districts, and the lands of Puna almost always went to the ruler of Ka'u or Hilo.

The most significant historical feature known in Puna was the Waha'ula Heiau, located in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Unfortunately, it was destroyed in 1997 by the ongoing eruption of Kilauea. This was the first luakini heiau (temples presided over by the high chiefs) to be built by the priest Pa'ao, circa 1275 A.D., and the last in use until its destruction was ordered by Liholiho in 1820. Course of Action


Support the establishment of Hawaiian Heritage Corridors.

Chap. 7 – Natural Beauty

7.5.1 Puna

Along the coast of Puna district the black sand beaches and tidal ponds are noted features of natural beauty. The inland areas of Puna are lava land. Major areas of natural beauty are the 1960 Kapoho and the Pu'u O'o volcanic regions. The region is significant in that it represents the force of nature in altering the landscape feature into a cone and desolate field of lava. A portion of the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is also located within this district.

The following list of sites are examples of natural beauty in the Puna district.
The following designated exceptional trees are adopted by ordinance.

Chap. 8 – Natural Resources and Shoreline (No District Profiles in this chapter)

The Hamakua coast, from near Waipio Valley to Hilo Bay, is comprised of a sea cliff 100 to 300 feet high. Along the Hamakua Coast are boulder beaches that have formed at the mouths of valleys and the numerous gulches. From Hilo to Leleiwi Point to Keaau, the rocky shoreline of the Hilo coast is highly irregular. The Puna coast from Keaau along Cape Kumukahi to Kalapana is partly low sea cliff and partly the constructional surface of recent lava flows. The irregularity of the coast a few miles to either side of Pohoiki is the result of several earthquakes and subsidence.

There are also black sand beaches on the Puna coast that were created when hot molten lava reached the ocean, solidified, and shattered in the surf.

In addition to surface and coastal natural resources, the island also possesses sub-surface resources. Areas in Puna have been designated geothermal sub-zones for the development of geothermal energy and other areas of the island contain geological features such as lava tube caves.

Chap. 9 – Housing

(see extensive introduction with tables in complete General Plan)

9.5.1 Puna Profile

The Puna district continues to experience tremendous growth in population and housing construction. The availability of residential sized lots at relatively inexpensive prices, and its proximity to the Hilo urban and employment center has contributed to this growth.

Most of the growth in housing construction has been single-family residential units. This growth occurred in the non-conforming subdivisions created prior to the adoption of the zoning and subdivision codes and are without basic infrastructure. As a result, many of the homes are served by individual water catchments, electric generators, propane tanks and substandard roadways.

According to the Hawaii Housing Policy Update Study 1997, an additional 3,780 single family dwellings were constructed in the Puna District between the years 1990 and 1996; more than double the number constructed in the other districts. However, the Puna District also has the largest number of vacant parcels, which indicates further potential for in-filling of existing subdivisions.

The Hawaii Island Community Development Corporation (HICDC) has provided assistance with the construction of self-help housing within the Puna district. Since 1985, the Hawaii Island Community Development Corporation assisted with the development of the 15 single-family residential units within the Pacific Paradise Gardens development and additional 20 units within Keaau.

According to the Hawaii Housing Policy Study Update 1997, there are approximately 8,155 households in the Puna District. Approximately 33 per cent of the households in Puna have annual household incomes of less than $25,000. Approximately 18 per cent have annual household incomes of less than $15,000. Nevertheless, approximately 82 per cent of the housing units are owned in fee. Another interesting figure is that 98 per cent of all housing units in the Puna District are single family dwellings, the highest percentage of all the districts on this island. Courses of Action


Consider and encourage the use of a variety of mechanisms to provide the necessary infrastructure in nonconforming subdivisions.


Encourage the maintenance and rehabilitation of the existing housing inventory to maintain the viability of existing communities.

Chap. 10 – Public Facilities

(includes Education, Protective Services, Government Operations, Health and Sanitation, PUNA Profile

Public school complexes in the Puna District are located in the communities of Keaau, Mt. View and Pahoa. The Keaau High School complex is comprised of Keaau High School, Keaau Middle School, Keaau Elementary School, and Mt. View Elementary School, and serves a total enrollment of 2,441 students. Existing complex facilities are adequate to serve the current enrollment. The new Keaau High School is being built in phases. As each phase is completed, the incoming class (i.e. freshman, sophomores, etc.) can be accommodated.

The Keaau Elementary School is being built in a similar fashion. Thus, in a few years, the need to transport students from the Keaau and Mt. View area will not be necessary. Currently, 11th and 12th graders from Keaau commute to Waiakea High School in South Hilo. At this time, the first phase of Keaau High School has been completed and is in operation.

The Pahoa High School complex is comprised of Pahoa High and Intermediate School, Pahoa Elementary School, Keonepoko Elementary School and serves 2,323 students from kindergarten through the 12th grade level. The natural population growth and in-migration into the subdivisions in the area are contributing to the increased pressure on education facilities at the Pahoa complex. In response to these growth pressures, facilities have been expanded to accommodate the increased enrollment. However, there is still overcrowding at the elementary school.

The Keaau, Mt. View and Pahoa branch libraries are joint community- school facilities. The Keaau facility has 21,332 volumes. The Pahoa and Mt. View facilities house 34,365 volumes and 18,345 volumes, respectively. Both library facilities are inadequate in size to meet the needs of the students and community. Furthermore, the lack of adequate pedestrian access and parking at these facilities is an ongoing problem. Courses of Action


Improve existing school complexes to meet the standards established by the State Department of Education.


School facilities should be made available to the community for recreation and other compatible uses during after school hours.


Encourage the Department of Education to plan and develop school facilities as the need arises.


Encourage improvements to pedestrian access between the village of Pahoa and the school and library facilities. PUNA Profile

Pahoa has a fire/EMS operation that serves the Pahoa-Paradise Park and Kalapana- Kapoho areas. Thirteen miles away in Keaau is a 24-hour fire/EMS facility. Hawaiian Beaches, Hawaiian Paradise Parks, Hawaiian Acres, Fern Acres, Fern Forest and Waa Waa subdivisions and Volcano Village have 24-hour volunteer facilities.

The police station headquarters for Puna is housed in the Keaau public office complex covering the entire district. A district substation is located in Pahoa. Courses of Action


A review of the possibility of 24-hour fire and emergency medical service for the entire district should be conducted and expansion of the public office facilities should be considered in accord with district needs.


Police services and facilities should be expanded to adequately meet the needs of the district. PUNA Profile

The Keaau public office complex serves the entire district and houses police, fire and courtroom services. No other State agencies are located here due to the district's relatively close proximity to the Hilo complex. Post office facilities are located at Keaau, Kurtistown, Mt. View, Pahoa and the Volcano area. The County maintains a public works baseyard in Kurtistown and a State Highways baseyard is located in Mt. View. The State facilities appear adequate. The County baseyard may be relocated if land becomes available. Course of Action


Expand/improve facilities as necessary. PUNA Profile

Health services in the district of Puna are provided by privately operated clinics in Pahoa
and Keaau.

Solid Waste:
Solid waste transfer stations are located in Pahoa, Kalapana, Volcano, Glenwood and Keaau.


There are three public cemeteries serving the district at Kaimu, Malama-Ki and Kehena. The latter has been covered by a lava flow. Use and maintenance of these sites is on a limited basis. Courses of Action


Maintenance of cemetery sites shall be improved.


Provide additional solid waste transfer stations as the need arises.

Chap. 11 – Public Utilities

(includes water, electricity, gas, sewer) PUNA Profile

Currently, there are four major water systems in the district: Olaa-Mt. View, Pahoa, Kapoho, and Kalapana. The total average consumption of these systems is 1.2 mgd. The Olaa-Mt. View water system consists of eleven service areas and extends along the Volcano Road from the former Puna Sugar Company mill to the Olaa Reservation Lots and along the Keaau-Pahoa Road to the vicinity of Kaloli Drive. Water for this system is supplied by three deep wells. Two of the wells are located at the former Puna Sugar Co. mill site and the third is near Olaa, between Keaau and Kurtistown.

The average consumption of this system is about 0.82 mgd. Olaa Well C, the primary source for this system, has a maximum pump capacity of 2.0 mgd. Olaa Wells A and B have capacities of 1.6 mgd and 0.72 mgd, respectively.

The Pahoa water system, located in the geographic center of the lower Puna region, extends from Keonepoko Homesteads down along portions of the Kapoho and Pohoiki Roads to Kapoho. The present average consumption is 0.40 mgd.

The Kalapana Water System extends from the Keauohana Forest Reserve along Highway 13 down to the Kaimu Beach intersection and continues in a southwesterly direction along Highway 13, ending in the vicinity of Kaimu. The water for the Kalapana system is supplied by two deep wells at Keauhana with maximum pump capacities of 0.38 mgd and 0.50 mgd.

The Hawaiian Beaches subdivision located in Waiakahiula is served by a privately owned water system. The developer had constructed this non-dedicable system.

The Glenwood and Volcano areas are presently not serviced by any public water system. Many of these areas still depend on roof catchment systems. Courses of Action


Continue to improve inadequate water system facilities.


Water source investigation and exploration should be continued in order to provide service for anticipated needs.


Investigate additional groundwater sources in the Olaa area.


Investigate alternative means to finance the extension of water systems to subdivisions that rely on catchment. PUNA Profile

The Puna district is characterized by many small towns, largest of which are Keaau and Pahoa, and large non-conforming subdivisions. At present, most residents in the Puna district are served by individual sewerage systems. The use of cesspools and individual household aerobic treatment units will probably be continued until such time as increased population distribution and densities make it economically feasible to install municipal sewerage systems.

Residences near the coastal areas are much more vulnerable to unsatisfactory results with individual disposal systems because of the relative proximity of the groundwater table to the ground surface. The close proximity of the groundwater table reduces the efficiency of individual disposal systems because there is less filtration that can occur before the effluent reaches the ground water. This reduced efficiency may also affect the quality of nearshore waters due to the reduced filtration. Courses of Action


The use of cesspools shall be discontinued in the coastal areas where cesspools do not function satisfactorily to meet water quality standards. Individual household aerobic treatment units approved by the State Health Department and the County of Hawaii could be utilized in these areas. Future sewerage systems for the Puna area would then naturally commence with service to the lower coastal areas.


Coordinate with W.H. Shipman Ltd. in the planning and development of a sewerage system for the Keaau area.

Chap. 12 – Recreation

(extensive introduction explaining the different types of recreational facilities, programs, and resources. "Standards" section very informative, p. 12-5))

Some districts have benefited more than others in terms of the number of facilities-based parks and beach parks relative to population. North Kona, South Kona, South Kohala and Puna have the least amount of County facilities-based parks and beach parks in relation to population.

12.5.1 Puna Profile

Presently, the parks in the Puna district are inadequate to serve the needs of the residents. Recreation programs are centered around team sports for young people, and social and cultural activities are limited. Cool and rainy weather requires that there be extensive covered and indoor recreational areas. County community parks are located at Hawaiian Beaches subdivision, Mountain View, and Kurtistown. Tennis courts and ballfields are available at the district park (Herbert Shipman Park) in Keaau. However, parking facilities need improvement. There is a neighborhood center in Pahoa that is heavily used for community meetings and events; educational, cultural, and senior citizens programs; health and welfare programs; and indoor recreational activities. A 50-meter Olympic-size swimming pool at the Pahoa Neighborhood Facility, completed in 1997, now provides the residents of Puna with a world-class swimming facility.

School playfields are used at Keaau, Mountain View, and Pahoa. Drainage is often a problem on the playfields. The Department of Education maintains gymnasiums at Pahoa and Keaau, covered and outdoor basketball courts at Mountain View, and tennis courts and ballfields at Pahoa. The County has a gymnasium at Mountain View, outdoor basketball court at Kurtistown and Hawaiian Beaches and tennis courts at Keaau and Kurtistown. Ballfields are also located in Mountain View, Kurtistown, and Hawaiian Beaches subdivision. A multi-purpose sports field is proposed at the Hawaiian Beaches Park. School activities take precedence over public use of joint-use facilities. There are lighted ballfields in Pahoa and Keaau.

Many of the other parks in the Puna district are heavily used by Hilo residents for picnicking, camping, swimming, surfing, and fishing. The proximity of Puna makes it easy for people in Hilo to travel to these areas.

The County's 1.7-acre Isaac Hale Beach Park is a beach area offering picnicking, camping, fishing, surfing, and swimming when the ocean is calm. A boat launching ramp facility is presently provided adjacent to the park at Pohoiki Bay. The present park area and facilities are inadequate. Cars, boats, and boat trailers often occupy areas within the park that could be used for recreational opportunities. Expansion of this park has been initiated by the County with the purchase of an adjacent 22 acres of land mauka of the existing park to be developed with additional parking areas, playgrounds, boat parking area, picnic facilities and restrooms.

Kaimu Beach Park’s famous black sand beach and adjacent coconut grove, once one of the most photographed scenic attractions on the Big Island, were covered by lava flows from Pu`u O`o Crater, Kilauea Volcano in 1990. Less than a mile away, Harry K. Brown Park, at one time the Puna district's most popular beach park, was inundated in the same eruption.

In 1993, the County purchased approximately six acres of land situated 2,000 feet to the northeast of Isaac Hale Beach Park in an effort to replace park land destroyed by lava. The new Ahalanui Park features a naturally-occurring warm spring (Mauna Kea Pond) and a grassed area with scattered ornamental and coconut trees. Proposed improvements include the construction of a 54-stall parking lot, renovation of existing structures to accommodate a caretaker’s cottage and community center, the construction of restrooms, access roadway and infrastructure improvements.

MacKenzie State Recreation Area (13.1 acres) is an ocean-oriented and forest park located between Pohoiki and Opihikao at the edge of the Malama-Ki Forest Reserve. Fishing, picnicking and tent camping are recreational activities of this park. Within the park is a well-preserved segment of the ancient Hawaiian King's Trail.

The State’s undeveloped Nanawale Park site, consisting of 78.3 acres, is located adjacent to Honolulu Landing, along the Puna Coastal Road between Kapoho and the Hawaiian Shores Subdivision.

Near the Kapoho-Pohoiki junction, the Lava Tree State Monument (17.0 acres) features lava trees and large volcanic earth cracks and has a footpath, picnic facilities, parking area, and restrooms. The park is landscaped, well maintained, with adequate facilities and area for present use. An additional area adjacent to the present park has been reserved for future expansion.

The County's Glenwood Park (1.1 acres), located along the Volcano Highway, adequately serves travelers as a picnic and rest stop.

Approximately 60,000 acres of the 229,176-acre Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is located within the Puna District. The facilities of the park for passive and active recreation are readily accessible. Courses of Action


As the population increases and need arises, neighborhood parks in large subdivisions between Keaau and Pahoa should be provided and improved.


Encourage the State to establish a park reserve on State-owned land east of Kaimu.


Recommend the establishment of beach reserves at Kehena Beach and Opihikao (west of Opihikao junction).


Recommend that the State expand the MacKenzie State Recreation Area.


Develop the expanded Isaac Hale Beach Park recreation area. Provide trail access to Keahialaka Spring and Pond and Mahinaakaka Heiau.


Develop the Kapoho Tidepools as a marine park.


Establish a small scenic park overlooking Kapoho and provide minimum facilities.


Develop recreational areas along the coast between Hilo and Kapoho, including areas at Papai, Haena (Keaau), Kaloli Point, Keonepoko Nui, Honolulu Landing, and Nanawale.


Establish small scenic viewpoints along the Puna Road to overlook the rift zone and Kaueleau, Keekee and the 1955 flows.


Explore means to maximize the use of the Pahoa Neighborhood Facility site to serve the recreational needs of the lower Puna area.

Chap. 13 – Transportation

(p. 13-6, "Standards" defines roadway terms used. Chap. includes Airports & Harbors and Mass Transit) PUNA Profile

Primary routes within the Puna district are the Volcano Road (Highway 11), which provides access to Hilo and serves the upper Puna region; the Puna Road (Highway 130), serving lower Puna from Keaau to Kalapana-Kaimu; the Kapoho Road (Highway 132), from Pahoa to Kapoho; and the Puna Coast Road (Highway 137), linking Kapoho and Kalapana-Kaimu. The latter road is basically a narrow, paved cinder road. Recent upgrades have greatly improved Highway 130 from Keaau to Kalapana and Highway 11 from Hilo to Volcano. However, the majority of the roads throughout the district are inadequate by present standards. As the only two primary routes serving the district, Highway 130 and Highway 11 are congested during the work week for Hilo-bound traffic as the population in the district continues to grow. The recently completed Keaau By-Pass Highway re-directs Hilo- and Pahoa-bound traffic around the town of Keaau, avoiding the congested intersection of Volcano Highway- Keaau-Pahoa Road.

Many sections of the roads in this district have drainage systems that do not meet present standards or have sharp curves and grades without adequate sight distance. In several communities, buildings directly abut or encroach onto rights-of-way. Most private roads in large subdivisions are cinder-surfaced and deficient in layout and construction. During the development of these large, substandard subdivisions in the 1950s and 1960s, limited attention was given to proper roadway base construction and drainage. There is also a network of private old plantation roads throughout the area. Courses of Action


Explore the possibility of developing a mid-level roadway to be located makai of Highway 130, beginning at Hawaiian Beaches Subdivision and extending through Hawaiian Paradise Park Subdivision with its eventual connection to Railroad Avenue in South Hilo. Consider the establishment of a bikeway along the same alignment.


Consider, in conjunction with community associations and the property owners, the use of a variety of mechanisms to provide infrastructure in non-conforming subdivisions, beginning with the major roads providing access into the more densely populated subdivisions. PUNA Profile

There are several small private aircraft landing strips developed by the former sugar industry for use by "crop-dusting" single engine aircraft.

The County has purchased twenty-two acres of land on the mauka side of Isaac Hale Beach Park for the construction of additional car and boat parking areas, playgrounds, picnic and bathroom facilities to supplement the heavily used boat launching facilities at Pohoiki. Courses of Action


Provide general aviation and small boat harbor facilities as the need arises.


Provide another small boat launching facility at Kapoho.

Chap. 14 – Land Use

(extensive introduction with lots of data and tables on zoning, LUPAG designations. Includes district profiles for Agriculture, Commercial Development, Industrial, Multiple Residential, Single-Family Residential, Resort, Open Space, and Public Lands Uses) PUNA

Lands for agricultural parks are areas set aside by the State specifically for agricultural activities to encourage continuation or initiation of such agricultural operations. The State's Agricultural Parks Program makes land available to small farmers at reasonable cost with long-term tenure. The State Department of Agriculture currently operates four agricultural parks on the island, one each in the districts of Puna, South Hilo, Hamakua and North Kona. Profile

The major agricultural businesses in Puna include macadamia nuts, flowers, foliage, papaya, bananas, tropical fruits and vegetable production. The Puna district is the major papaya growing region in the State. In the past, the papaya industry has been faced with challenges from fruit flies and the Papaya Ringspot Virus. Today, the industry is thriving due to the development of several methods of quarantine treatment and the development of a genetically engineered disease resistant variety. The papaya industry is continuing its efforts to find an acceptable alternative to ethylene dibromide (EDB) fumigation to control fruit flies.

There is a fairly sizable planting of macadamia nuts on the Hilo side of Keaau. Additional plantings may be anticipated as the market dictates. Other future agricultural uses projected include expansion of papaya, bananas, cacao and tree farms, coffee and kava (awa).

Vegetables and a variety of fruits are also grown in the Puna District. Some of the more exotic types of fruits being grown include lychee, rambutan, cherimoya, starfruit, sapodilla, mangosteen, jackfruit, guava, breadfruit and atemoya.

Flowers, chiefly anthuriums and orchids, are grown throughout the district. The major flower cultivation areas are Mt. View, Pahoa, Kapoho and Volcano. Numerous truck farms are located in the Volcano area. Major crops are lettuce, temperate range flowers and cabbage.

The Puna district also has the potential for agricultural processing and manufacturing opportunities utilizing the geothermal resources of the area. These direct use applications of the geothermal resources need to be located within effective proximity of the resource itself and may require the need for new forms of land use management and control.

The State has made lands available for agriculture at the 60-lot Pahoa Agricultural Park, that covers an area of approximately 600 acres. The agricultural park is fully occupied with no lots available for lease.

There are approximately 198,747 acres zoned for agricultural use in Puna. Course of Action


Assist in the further development of agriculture. PUNA Profile

Commercial activity in the Puna district primarily consists of small rural enterprises that serve the surrounding rural-residential and agricultural communities. Commercial activity is mainly located in the communities of Keaau and Pahoa, with lesser activity in Orchidland Estates, Mountain View, Kurtistown, and Glenwood.

The communities of Keaau and Pahoa are the commercial centers of the district. The extent of commercial development consists of a shopping center in Keaau and grocery and general merchandise stores, service stations, and miscellaneous retail shops and services. The majority of these retail enterprises primarily serve the immediate surrounding communities.

W. H. Shipman, Ltd. is currently seeking to rezone approximately 32 acres of land in Keaau from an Agricultural to an Industrial-Commercial Mixed Use district. The project site is located adjacent to the Shipman Business Park and mauka of the Volcano Highway-Keaau Bypass intersection. W.H. Shipman plans to initially develop a shopping center with up to 118,000 square feet of retail floor area on approximately 16 acres located within the northern half of the 32-acre project area. The balance of the project area is proposed to be developed as a mixed use commercial/light industrial area with approximately 100,000 to 125,000 square feet of floor area. Completion of this project is anticipated in 2008.

Population is scattered throughout the district and the remainder of the commercial activity is minimal. Proximity to Hilo limits the demand for commercial activities as Hilo is, to a great extent, the major shopping area for the residents of Puna. Courses of Action


Centralization of commercial activities in Pahoa Town, rather than along the Pahoa By-Pass, to serve the residents of Lower Puna shall be encouraged.


Expanded commercial services to meet the needs of population growth in the Puna district shall be encouraged in Keaau.


Rehabilitation of existing commercial development in appropriate locations shall be encouraged.


Appropriately zoned lands shall be allocated as the need arises.


Allow the establishment of small neighborhood commercial areas within existing non-conforming, residential-agricultural (rural) subdivisions. PUNA Profile

There are approximately 490 acres of industrial zoned lands in the Puna District. The 488-acre W.H. Shipman Industrial Park is located near the Puna-South Hilo District boundary. It is being developed as another major industrial center for East Hawaii. Industrial uses in the area range from warehousing to construction yards. W.H. Shipman Ltd. also has plans for additional mixed use industrial-commercial zoned lands in close proximity to the industrial park. The Puna District includes various agricultural industrial activities including the Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Corporation's processing facility, flower packaging, and papaya processing and packaging. Other industrial activities in the area include cinder and rock quarrying and certain cottage industries.

The Puna Geothermal Venture power plant began operation in 1993. It currently produces 30 megawatts of energy from the use of geothermal steam. The Puna geothermal resource subzone is identified on the General Plan Land Use Pattern Allocation Guide map. Activities associated by the use of the geothermal byproducts may be established within and/or in close proximity to the geothermal resource subzone. Courses of Action


Identify sites suitable for future industrial activities as the need arises.


Industrial-commercial mixed use districts may be provided in appropriate locations.


Service oriented Limited Industrial and/or Industrial-Commercial uses may be permitted in Pahoa although the area is not currently identified in the LUPAG

map. PUNA Profile

The Puna district has approximately four acres zoned for multiple residential use. The predominant form of housing in the district is single family development. However, due to the forecasted population growth, the demand for multiple residential development may increase. Course of Action


Appropriately zoned lands shall be allocated as the need for multiple residential development increases. PUNA Profile

The Puna district has approximately 2,677 acres zoned for single-family residential use. The district has thousands of non-conforming residential-sized lots that lack the basic infrastructure necessary for development and/or are held in speculation. Nevertheless, construction of single-family dwellings within these non-conforming subdivisions has increased. The district is a bedroom community to the Hilo area. Courses of Action


Work with community groups to explore possible avenues for financing infrastructural improvements within the non-conforming subdivisions.


Encourage and aid the agricultural industry in continuing to provide employee housing.


Improve and develop roadways, water and sewerage systems, and other basic facilities necessary to encourage development of lands suitable for residential use. PUNA Profile

The visitor industry in the Puna district is primarily comprised of bed and breakfast visitor units. A drive-in restaurant currently occupies the district’s only resort-zoned area of one acre located in Kaimu. The principal visitor attraction in the region is the Kalapana Extension of the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

Although resorts have been proposed previously in the Kaimu-Kalapana, Kapoho, Pohoiki, and Opihikao areas, none of these have materialized. These areas are also subject to volcanic activities, subsidence, and tsunami inundation. These areas also lack most of the basic infrastructure improvements necessary for development. Courses of Action


The development of visitor accommodations and any resort development in the district shall complement the character of the area.


Consider the development of small family or 'bed and breakfast' type visitor accommodations and small-scale retreat resort development.


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