Sunday, March 30, 2008
No Come Kauai
While walking to one of my favorite beaches, I encountered this scene of carnage on conservation land, down-slope from a house with the survey stakes that indicate a sale is possible or pending, and so the ocean view becomes even more valuable. It used to be an ironwood forest, filled with birdsong and shade. Now it’s rubble.
It reminded me of a piece I wrote earlier about this very same neighborhood:
NO COME KAUAI
All you want to do is make a lot of money, a big return on your investment, some major salad real quick, but you can’t do it in your own town, because the land is too expensive and the regulations are too strict, so you hop on a jet and touch down on Kauai, where you’ve heard the pickings are easy and sweet, and a realtor agrees, saying all you’ve gotta do is buy a chunk of ag land and chop it up into CPRs, but keep the best one for yourself and then decapitate all the trees, because buyers will pay extra for that coveted ocean view, so you do as you’re advised and grade a large pad to build a super-sized spec house that will soon bear a for sale sign and you pour a steep, concrete driveway that funnels all the drainage water from your lot onto the beach, eviscerating the clumps of naupaka that provide cover for the red clay that now bleeds onto the coarse, white sand with each and every rain until soon that stretch of coastline is scarred with small gullies, spoiled and stained, but you don’t notice because you’re someplace else.
All you want to do is go down to the sea, walk a rugged span of shoreline that’s relatively private and still feels real, wild, the way nature intended, without any traffic noise or visual intrusion of human habitation, where you can watch boobies fly and swim in clear, clean waters, but you can’t go anywhere in your own neighborhood, because the county forgot to record the beach access that’s now blocked with chain link, so you drive to another bit of Kauai you especially cherish and clamber down a steep path, among trees that have been felled, exposing the construction site of yet another garish mansion, across coarse, white sand that has been gouged and bloodied, and you feel again the hopelessness of the situation because you already called the deputy county engineer, who is a planner by training, but got his job because he’s good friends with the mayor, and he asked what you thought he was supposed to do about it, and then the state conservation guy, once he finally came and took a look, tried to convince you it was just an act of nature, and the kona winds carry not bird song, but the incessant beep-beep-beep of backhoes and excavators, and you notice, because you visit that stretch of coastline nearly every single day, and you grieve, because you don’t want to go someplace else.