The sky was several shades of gray, save for one spot, which was inhabited by a half-moon, and it was variously white, silver and gold when Koko and I went walking beneath it this morning. A streak of guava pink appeared on the eastern horizon, but was quickly devoured by dark clouds that brought rain to a yellow sky shortly after we returned home.
It was cold, but not so cold as it has been the past few days, when it was easy to tell the residents, in their hoodies, flannel shirts and even Ugh boots, from the tourists in shorts and sleeveless shirts.
And not nearly so cold as the county, which bulldozed structures belonging to Native Hawaiians in Wainiha yesterday. The details provided by the account in The Garden Island are painfully inaccurate, mixing up two different situations, but the overall gist is correct: Hawaiians are losing what has been theirs for generations both to unpaid taxes, which have skyrocketed due to the expensive haolification of land up there, and the county’s aggression.
The area where the structures were bulldozed is the mostly hau-covered sand spit at Wainiha Bay, where the road makes that horseshoe bend, just west of the double bridges. Part of the spit is county park land, though most people wouldn’t know it because it offers no facilities of any kind. It is adjacent to three kuleana parcels, two of which are owned by Hawaiian families who erected fishing shacks. Another is owned by Peter and Sam Thayer, who use their structure as part of their Wainiha vacation rental. The fourth parcel, which abuts the highway, is advertised on Craig’s list as an RV camp site, which the state has said isn’t legal, but also hasn’t stopped.
The issue started last July,when the county went out and gave notice to several people who were living there as campers, on what they believed was the private kuleana land, but what the county thought was park land. This apparently prompted the county to start looking into whether some of the structures there, which are in various stages of improvement, were on park land.
A few weeks ago, the county sent notice to the kuleana land owners saying their structures had to be removed by Jan. 11, which gave them 72 hours. One landowner contacted both the number on the notice and KPD, but no one in the county knew anything about it.
The kuleana land owners were advised they could locate the original survey pins, pay for their own survey or accept the county’s survey. The county claimed the kuleana land had been recently lost to shoreline erosion, but one Hawaiian family contended their structure had been in the same location for years.
Anyway, the Thayers moved their structure forward, onto the public beach, and it was not knocked down. Instead, the county said the state would have to deal with it. The two Hawaiian families did not move their structures, which the county demolished.
The Garden Island story mixes up the sand spit issue with Wainiha taro lands on the mauka side of the highway in a neighborhood that in recent years has been heavily gentrified with luxury homes. These taro lands, which had been owned and worked by Hawaiians for many generations, were recently auctioned off because of unpaid property taxes, and are now in the hands of developers who for darn sure ain’t gonna be growing kalo.
Yet another loi bites the dust.
And yet more examples of how the Hawaiians are getting squeezed out of the North Shore by those who are intent on turning it into a playground for the rich and tourists.
What really bothers me about the sand spit issue is how the county is destroying Hawaiian fishing shacks even as it approves vacation rentals that operated illegally for years — and even now have the bottom floor enclosed in a flood zone and function as multi-family dwellings — and allows modest homes to be transformed into luxurious mini-resorts under the guise of “unsubstantial improvements.”
Funny, how the county sits back and does nothing as fancy vacation rentals in Wainiha encroach on the public beach, but they demolish Hawaiian shacks that may, or may not, have encroached on public park land.
What's the difference?
Well, the rich landowners have the dough to hire attorneys and surveyors and otherwise work the system.
It seems that on Kauai, money just doesn’t talk, it screams. And the county, cowed, invariably listens.