Sunday, December 2, 2007

Musings: Closing the Barn Door After the Cows Get Out

The weather report is calling for big rain today, but the clear skies and rosy dawn that greeted Koko and me this morning gave no hint of any deluge to come.

A friend called from the North Shore to report giant surf and the UH Warriors score, which I'd already heard from my neighbor Andy, whom I encountered on my walk, yet even after hearing it twice, I still can't remember what it is.

The fact that I, the antithesis of a sports fan, actually knew not only that the Warriors had a big game yesterday, but the first quarter score, is evidence of this year’s widespread Warriors mania. It’s sort of like Brittney Spears’ haircut — even if you don’t care, you can’t help but hear about it.

Of more interest to me, although I’m sure I’m outnumbered by football fans, is a report in today’s Garden Island about the planning commission passing a bill to impose a moratorium on ag subdivisions.

The action, which occurred Tuesday, was only today reported as a front-page story, which gets me wondering why TGI waited so long to run it. It’s not as if there was any earth-shattering news this past week that would have bumped it.

Anyway, it sounds great at first blush: a moratorium on ag subdivisions until the county can identify our prime farm lands and develop consistent policies for using those that aren’t. But we’re talking about Kauai County government here, and the Baptiste Administration, so there is a sizable catch.

Way back on Aug. 3, Mayor Bryan Baptiste issued a press release in which he stated: “After seeing the extent of the growth of agricultural subdivisions last year, I feel that we cannot wait any longer. We must take action now to maintain our rural identity in the best interest of the health and welfare of the residents of Kauai.”

But the bill passed by the planning commission includes an amendment “that removes the Aug. 3 ‘sunshine date’ and makes the moratorium effective upon County Council’s approval of the ordinance,” the article reports.

The amendment was proposed by the planning department, whose director, of course, is appointed by Baptiste. But the article fails to help the reader connect those dots, creating instead the impression that Baptiste still favors a speedy end to ag subdivisions.

Or maybe he does, and he’s just lost control of his own planning director, Ian Costa. However, my sense is that Baptiste caved under pressure from the big landowners and real estate industry. Still, it’s impossible to tell from the article, which includes these two fascinating paragraphs:

“The Planning Department signed off on the bill last week, but recommended changing the effective date of the law despite the administration’s intent to prevent a flood of subdivision applications.


“’Historically, this has been the practice for any type of legislation since there is uncertainty with the length of the approval and whether the legislation will be approved,’ states a Planning Department letter sent Tuesday to the commissioners.”

The long and the short of it is that despite Baptiste’s well-publicized move to stop ag subdivisions, it will continue to be business as usual for as long as it take for land owners to get their applications in.

And that, dear readers, is how government works on Kauai, and why either nothing ever gets done, or by the time it does, it’s too late to be useful.

Tomorrow, we’ll continue that same theme, on a different subject.

Until then, there's plenty of Warriors chit chat to keep you entertained.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

What is it with politicians and doors of all type. It's all about appearances again. They want to keep a foot in every open door. Never know what might slip through..for their benefit.

Off topic: If any of your readers want to follow Greenpeace in the Antarctic as they chase down the Japanese whalers here is the blog. Remember they are going after the humpbacks this time.

http://members.greenpeace.org/blog/staff_oceans

Only two entries so far but very interesting.

Anonymous said...

Try that again

http://members.greenpeace.org/blog/staff_oceans

Anonymous said...

That last word is_ocean

Aaron Stene said...

Not much is going to change on regulating these ag subdivisions
until all the Important Agriculture Lands (IAL) are identified.

http://luc.state.hi.us/project_ial.htm

On a related note, currently approximately 25% of the agriculture classified land on
Kauai is considered "prime"
(36,320 acres). The rest is considered non prime.

You may also find this article interesting.

http://www.kauai.gov/portals/0/planning/SFVR/AG%20Subdivisions-Avoiding%20the%20Next%20Hokulia.pdf