We’re in the height of summer now, with mangoes ripening on the table, yellow ginger blooming in the yard and the sun rising progressively later, which means that when Koko and I go out walking in the morning, the light is murky, as it was today.
A few pink-edged white clouds floated among splotches of gray in a sky that was neither black nor blue, dark nor light. And then the sun nosed up over the horizon and the world quickly turned golden and bright.
Not so bright is Mayor Bernard Carvalho’s decision to sign the new transient vacation rental (TVR) bill, according to a “media statement” posted on the county’s website at 5:30 p.m. yesterday — the evening before a furlough Friday, when all the county folks will be conveniently out of their offices and so won’t have to deal with calls from the pesky pissed-off public.
It’s no surprise he doesn’t have the political courage to veto the bill, which will give an untold number of people the golden opportunity to legitimize a use that is illegal under state law and thus add as much as 40 percent to the value of their property. Heck, he may not even understand the legal ramifications. However, there's no excuse for packaging his support with disingenuous language:
It allows the facts to be entered into the record and for the Planning Commission to make a decision based on those facts including whether they had a bona fide farming operation prior to March 2008.
Unfortunately, since Councilman Tim Bynum watered down the bill by removing mandatory inspections of the properties, we won’t really have all the facts about an application. And thanks to a loophole introduced by Councilman Daryl Kaneshiro, the Commission can — and no doubt will, given their past actions — approve TVRs on ag land without any farm operation.
Meanwhile, I’ve got a follow up on Tuesday’s post about the dubious legacy of Michele and Justin Hughes, whom I sure will be among those bellying up to the bar to get their own high-end fake farm TVRs approved. They’ve asked for a 180-day extension to the requirement that they either remediate the illegal coastal trail they made above Kauapea Beach, or apply for an after-the-fact Conservation District Use Permit.
The six-month extension, which the BLNR will consider at its Aug. 12 meeting, ostensibly will give the Hugheses “time to complete a thorough Environmental Assessment to accompany the application.” Or sell the property, which is being aggressively marketed.
However, I noticed a discrepancy in the documents. According to minutes from the March 11 BLNR meeting, the Board voted to levy a $7,500 fine against the Hugheses and give them four months or 120 days to remediate or apply — double the time recommended by staff. Yet the staff submittal on the extension request states the Board gave them 160 days to comply. I’m not sure what’s up with that.
But one thing is clear: these landowners are masters at dragging stuff out to suit their purposes. The investigation into this matter began back in March 2007, and this extension will take them up to March 2011, with no guarantee that even then it will be resolved, or that the Hugheses will still be the landowners.
To borrow some lyrics from Steve Miller: “go on, take the money and run. They got the money, yeah, you know they got away.”
I can’t leave you on that bitter note, though, so I’m going to direct you to the Honolulu Weekly piece I wrote about Kehau Kekua. She discusses the role of the sacred and the profound in land use discussions, as opposed to the usual just plain profane, and offers insight into traditional Hawaiian belief systems and practices, including the importance of place and the reasons why burials need to be preserved in place.
You just might learn a thing or two. I know I did.