Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Musings: Another Planet

The moon, full tomorrow, peered boldly through my windows last night and at some point in the silence of the wee hours Koko and I walked outside blinking, blinded by the brilliance of its cool white light.

It was not long in bed before I was again roused from mine, this time by streaks of red-gold that lit up the eastern sky. We hurried out, me enthralled by the beauty, Koko by the smell of freshly-squeezed garbage juice dribbled the entire length of the street.

At the end of it, we ran into my neighbor Andy, and his dog, Momi, and were confronted by the splendor of the mountains, their summits clear, though by the time the sun rose red, casting the trees in alpenglow, thin bands of clouds had layered atop Waialeale and absorbed the dawn’s colors, creating the effect of Saturn-like rings.

I spent yesterday on another planet — Honolulu — and ran into Sen. Gary Hooser in the airport enroute. He seemed fresh, even though the legislative session is winding down, and said he’s ready now to ramp up his race for Lieutenant Governor. Go Gary!

Later, meeting Earthjustice attorney David Henkin, who ran for that post in 2006, I couldn’t help but wonder what Hawaii would be like today if he and his running mate, William Aila, had won the election. Sigh.

I also talked to our own Rep. Mina Morita, who has managed to rescue HB 1808, the shoreline vegetation bill, from the dust bin where it was tossed under pressure from wealthy coastal landowners. As chair of the conference committee, she’s shaped it into something that has a good chance of passing and gives DLNR the authority it thinks it needs to enforce against those who are gobbling up the public beach.

All I can say is thank goodness for Mina.

I wish I could say the same about the very bad transient vacation rental (TVR) bill introduced by Councilman Tim Bynum, which is being heard by the Planning Commission today.

Planning Director Ian Costa and his deputy, Imai Aiu, apparently are recommending approval of the measure, and why not? It would eliminate the need for all those pesky inspections, not to mention the cumbersome process of actually having to provide the public with information about TVR applications in any sort of a timely fashion, much less justify their approvals.

One attorney said he was wondering what standards the county would require agricultural landowners to meet, in terms of proving they actually have a viable farm operation to support the “farm dwelling” that they want to turn into a vacation rental.

The answer, as the TVR bill is now written, is none.

I know Tim believes this bill is needed to protect the county from a lawsuit by ag land owners, but unfortunately, it changes the law for everyone. So that means all those sketchy TVRs — you know, the ones with enclosed downstairs in flood plains and other violations that ostensibly would have prevented their approval under the existing law — will have a chance to slide on through.

Meanwhile, a quick check of county records shows that since the existing TVR bill was passed, 356 TVRs have been approved. The planning department approved 302, and the planning commission 54. Of the total, 112 are in Hanalei and 81 are in Wainiha, with the remaining 163 spread around the rest of the island. Is it any wonder that North Shore folks feel, quite rightly, like their community is being overwhelmed?

In other news, Parks director Lenny Rapozo showed himself to be a real friend of nature with his comment that it’s “unacceptable” to turn off stadium lights even though they’re killing native seabirds now teetering on the brink of extinction. Maybe he should be made to circle the lights until he falls to the ground exhausted, just to see if he’s capable of empathy.

And Paul Curtis finally got around to reporting the six-day-old ”news” that Taser victim LeBeau Lagmay was found not guilty of a third-degree misdemeanor assault charge unrelated to his Tasing, which kind of makes me wonder why the paper bothered to give it any ink at all, much less the sensational coverage that marked the trial’s start.

Surely there are more pressing issues to cover.

The paper hasn't quite been the same since Mike Levine went to another planet.

21 comments:

Mel Rapozo said...

It was a pretty interesting Planning Commission this morning. I informed the Commissioners of a 2009 Attorney General's opinion which clarified Chapter 205 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes, prohibiting TVRs on ag land. The opinion goes further to state that counties MAY NOT allow it at all. I wish you could have seen the faces of the Planning Department staff, and the young County Attorneys that were in attendance. This meeting is definitely worth watching on Hoike. The bottom line is that Mark Bennett, Attorney General for the State of Hawaii, signed off on an opinion that clearly states that the County of Kauai cannot allow TVRs on ag land. Plain and simple. Let's see if they take heed to this opinion. By the way, the Planning Department never sought an opinion from the Attorney General. Pretty irresponsible if you ask me.

Mel Rapozo said...

What baffles me the most is what this TVR bill removes from the current law.

First of all, it removes the requirement for the Planning Department to do inspections before granting permits.

Second, it removes the requirement for all applicants to be in compliance with local, state and federal laws.

Third, it removes the requirement for the Planning Department to promulgate Administrative Rules.

Fourth, it removes the deadlines set forth in 2006, thereby opening up the floodgates for new applications.

Fifth, it removes the prohibition of interior lockouts in single-family vacation rentals, thereby allowing the conversion of single-family vacation rentals into multi-family vacation rentals (which are clearly prohibited outside of the VDA).

Sixth, it removes the opportunity for members of the public to file petitions to revoke or modify permits for unpermitted uses, unless they obtain "standing."

Seventh, it allows for the Planning Director to issue "provisional permits" to all applicants until a final decision is made. Remember, the requirements for applicants to be in compliance with laws have been removed.

Eighth, the reference to Chapter 205 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes has been removed in Section 8/17.10. This is a clear attempt to circumvent State law.

After all of this, the recommendation of the Planning Director and Deputy Planning Director is to pass this bill. Simply unbelievable.

Anonymous said...

The planning commission passed the gutting of the TVR Bill today,and dissed the Attorney Geneneral Opinion. Apparantly, Kauai county doesn't have to follow state law...

Anonymous said...

Speaking of removal.
Mel, PLEASE get rid of the campaign sign with your face on it. Here in the houselots everyone is either your neighbor or related to you.
We all know what you look like.
No need to be remained every time I return home. The little yellow signs get the message across.

Anonymous said...

Where can we get a copy of that AG's opinion? Don't see it online anywhere.

Anonymous said...

Mel, can you post the opinion online?

Anonymous said...

Same Mark Bennett who said Superferry didn't have to follow environmental law?

An AG's opinion isn't law. It carries about the same weight as the (two) county attorney opinions that say the opposite.

Anonymous said...

An AG's opinion isn't law. It carries about the same weight as the (two) county attorney opinions that say the opposite.
No, 2 young deputy county attorney's with little experience do not = mark bennet.
And the Kobayashi OPINION, is just that, not case law.

Anonymous said...

IMO Mel, you can't read and you certainly should not be trying to interpret law.

It would be irresponsible if you were to be you re-elected to office.

Anonymous said...

No, Mel is not an attorney, and I wish I had a dollar for everytime he's reminded us of that.

I am most definately voting for Mel for County Council. In fact, here's a couple of new campaign slogans for him; "Vote for Mel, he's not boring!" "Vote for Mel Rapozo, he's not an attorney!"

Anonymous said...

yes, the new amendment removes all requirements of compliance with local, state and federal laws.

But wait, NOT if you READ the sentence before, oh, wait again, that would imply READING and comprehension, my mistake.

I'm sorry Mel, your lack of understanding of the law is disgraceful. I pity your prospective constituants.

But please, keep on stumping because it becomes more and more obvious your misunderstanding of the law and really good reasons you should not be elected to public office.

Anonymous said...

yes, the new amendment removes all requirements of compliance with local, state and federal laws.

But wait, NOT if you READ the sentence before, oh, wait again, that would imply READING and comprehension, my mistake.

I'm sorry Mel, your lack of understanding of the law is disgraceful. I pity your prospective constituants.

But please, keep on stumping because it becomes more and more obvious your misunderstanding of the law and really good reasons you should not be elected to public office.


Can you post the "sentence before" so that we can judge your comments by actual facts? Thank you.

Anonymous said...

way to encourage some sort of alternative medium dialogue with those willing to run for office

Anonymous said...

Mel has my vote

Anonymous said...

Second, it removes the requirement for all applicants to be in compliance with local, state and federal laws."

those are not facts, they are opinions, Mel's opinions of what
he read.

judge away, ya'll are good at it.

Anonymous said...

Red is gray, and yellow white.
But we decide what is right
And what is an illusion.

Anonymous said...

"actual facts?"

a fact is a truth - Mr. Rapozo is stating opinions

Anonymous said...

Didn't the Kobayashi OPINION carry alot of weight in determining the legality of transcient vacation rentals outside the VDA? Seems like I remember hearing something about that........

Anonymous said...

Second, it removes the requirement for all applicants to be in compliance with local, state and federal laws."

those are not facts, they are opinions, Mel's opinions of what
he read
BS, they remove the requirements from the language of the bill that is a fact, not opinion

Anonymous said...

Didn't the Kobayashi OPINION carry alot of weight in determining the legality of transcient vacation rentals outside the VDA?
Yes, i think it was the last deputy county attorney ever released, so they elevated it to pretend it is law.

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