The full moon was on the run from clouds when Koko and I went out last night, and by morning it was evident, from the thick layer of gray, that she had been caught, her brilliance extinguished.
Wind whipped through the tops of ironwood, camphor and eucalyptus trees, sending small twigs, and not so small branches, hurtling down onto the road as we walked. Every now and then, a smattering of rain brushed past my face, the only part of my body — save for one hand that held Koko’s leash — exposed to the chill.
March has come in like a lion, as is typically the case. What’s eerie is that the winter winds are accompanied by a fire alert in some areas that have been sucked dry by the drought.
Meanwhile, the surfers are getting some action this season, with one big winter swell after another knocking back some of the vegetation illegally planted along the shoreline.
Now the Lege is moving on that issue, too, with the House Finance Committee passing an amended version of HB 1808, which gives the Department of Land and Natural Resources the authority to require landowners to remove vegetation that encroaches on the public beach, which is likened to a public sidewalk. If they don’t, DLNR can either fine them or rip out the offending naupaka and spider lilies itself.
Interestingly, the bill, which was introduced by our own Rep. Mina Morita, among others, also amends the Hawaii Revised Statutes to define shoreline as:
""Shoreline" means the upper reaches of the wash of the waves, other than storm and seismic waves, at high tide during the season of the year in which the highest wash of the waves occurs, usually evidenced by the edge of natural vegetation growth, [or] but never lower than the upper limit of debris left by the wash of the waves."
The bill now moves to the Senate, where the Judiciary Committee passed the marijuana decriminalization bill after amending it to up the penalty from $100 to $300 for a first offense and $500 for every violation thereafter. Ouch.
While the bill is a step in the right direction, it’s kind of bizarre to see language like “one ounce or less of marijuana shall not be deemed a detrimental drug.” It seems to me that a substance — I don’t define marijuana as a drug — is either detrimental or it’s not. The quantity shouldn’t matter. And since cannabis has never killed anybody, it’s hard to see why it should be labeled detrimental at all.
The “compassion center” bill — aka medical cannabis dispensary — is also moving along, although it was amended to include a $5,000 registration fee for each facility, with the state and county splitting the money. It looks like it’s all about maximizing revenue this session.
And Sen. Gary Hooser’s bill, which makes it a felony to kill a monk seal, is also ready to move over to the House.
It’s kind of hard to believe that folks actually need to face tougher sanctions to deter them from killing endangered creatures, but unfortunately, that’s where we’re at. Still, it all comes down to enforcement. I mean, just look at the luxurious St. Regis, whose lights kill more endangered Newell’s shearwaters and petrels than any other place in Hawaii each year. (KIUC kills the most with its power lines.) And why? Because the feds and state haven’t taken any enforcement action to make them stop.