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.