In thinking about the vacation rental issue, it struck me that two things are driving this current effort to legalize TVRs on ag land: the county’s fear of getting sued by landowners, and its desire to accommodate landowners who desire to maximize the economic value of their property, regardless of the cost to the greater community.
Then I got an email with photos of Joe Brescia’s house now that the dust fence has been taken down, and I thought, yes, this is what manifests from that mindset of fear and accommodation, this is what it looks like:
Wondering what happened to the iwi marked by the orange fence in this earlier photo?
The stakes have been removed and replaced with rocks and flags, similar to those denoting sprinkler heads. Before long, the flags will be gone, either removed intentionally, lost to the winter surf that washes across the lots along this stretch of coast or chewed up by weedeaters and lawnmowers. Soon it will be easy for people using this house to pretend they are not living above and walking upon 31 known burials.
Thinking of visiting the iwi? The two “no trespassing” signs warn against it.
Still questioning why this house was built atop iwi at all? Well, as Pua Aiu, administrator of the State Historic Preservation Division told me for an article in Honolulu Weekly:
[S]ince SHPD is “not allowed to do a taking” of private property, the agency had “very little wiggle room” in attempting to site the house Brescia wanted on a relatively small lot widely dispersed with numerous iwi.
Actually, Brescia wanted even more, but litigation brought by citizens, not government, required him to push it back from the shoreline and scale it down a bit. And if there had been adequate concern for the iwi, it could have been scaled down even more. But it wasn’t, because the county and state are driven by fear and accommodation.
It’s the same scenario that’s playing out now with the ag land TVRs. That's why, if this bill passes, we’ll end up with places like this and this that have absolutely nothing to do with agriculture— other than boasting a ”converted barn.”
Is this really the kind of blatant disrespect for the law, the community and ag land that we want to legitimize?