POSTED: 12 JANUARY 2007 - 3:00pm HST

Bigger than 1 Acre = "Still Too Big Box Bill"

in Kapaa the Safeway Supermarket and its adjacent stores is a one sqaure acre roof. Big enough?

by Jonathan Jay on 12 January 2007

Most of us seem to agree, buildings on Kaua'i should be limited to a certain size. They should not be so tall they scrape the sky. They should not broad they cover the island. Buildings on Kaua'i should remain and be limited to human scale. People who want to build gigantic architecture are still free to do so - elsewhere. On Kaua'i, we already agree buildings should be no taller than a coconut tree, but over just how much expanse should they be permitted to sprawl? Where should we place this limit?

An acre is a standard unit of measure for the "out doors". For better or worse, it is of a size that works well with the landscape that surrounds us all, and so we still use it. Not the metric system. How big is this thing we call an Acre? There are 43,560 square feet in 1 acre, but that is a pretty big number - hard to picture, too many feets! One way to get a better sense of this scale is to understand that an acre is equal in area to about 91 yards of a football field. The entire 100 yards of the field and both end zones totals roughly 1.32 acres. "Yard" and "Field" you will note are words of or about the the out doors, not the "in doors". Not of the human scale, like "foot".

Acres are not used to measure the insides of buildings - human space. Although the origins of the acre, and how it came to be the size it is today are lost to us, today this unit of measure is still in use because it is of a size that works well for it's application - to describe the size of the landscape that surrounds us.

No building on this island should have a 'footprint' bigger than 1 acre.
The 75,000 square feet proposed in the present 'Still Too Big Box Bill' is just that - still too big. No building on Kaua'i should have more than 43,560 square feet. This 'limit' is almost 2 acres! What if the limit for building height was not the coconut tree, but the Cook Pine! No structure on the island would be allowed to be over 120' tall! Some limit! Once a 'Big Box' becomes bigger than one acre, it is no longer architecture, it is landscape, it is retail sprawl.

If Kaua'i is to retain it's charm and special sense of scale and place, we should not permit buildings larger than one acre as some of mainland communities have too easily allowed. The mainland has vast wide open spaces. Kaua'i has barely as many square miles as as we have realtors! Truly, our island is tiny, and our limits on size should be more aggressive than elsewhere. Kaua'i is not the size of California. The rules should be different here.

Just as we wisely use the coconut tree to set the maximum height of buildings and put some kind of brake on what market forces might permit, the maximum size limitation for retail structures should be no more than 1 acre, specifically; 43,560 square feet. Anything bigger this is one of Goldilock's Papa-bear sizes: TOO BIG!

For more on Big Box impact see:
Island Breath: Big Box Overkill
Island Breath: Big Box Bill Meeting
Island Breath: Kauaifornia Big Box
Island Breath: Walmart - Always High Prices
Island Breath: Walmart Ditches Xmas
Island Breath: Kauaifornia Big Box
Island Breath: Big Box on Kauai
Island Breath: Big Box Impact Analysis

Island Breath: Big Box Blues
Island Breath: Costco & Kauai Planning
Island Breath: Mall-Warting America