The moon, big and getting bigger, and Jupiter, bright and getting brighter, were already nearly overhead before the last smudges of orange left the western sky, signaling the end of a beautiful day.
By morning, when Koko and I went out walking, both celestial bodies had disappeared, leaving behind a few twinkling stars, some drifting towers of clouds and smudges of orange in the east, signaling the start of a beautiful day.
“Early bird,” said one man I often encounter on my walks.
“You, too,” I said, and we both laughed, recognizing the value of being out when the world is still calm and quiet.
Seems other folks seek a different kind of value here on Kauai, as evidenced by an auction held last week in which six properties around Kilauea were sold. According to the PRNewswire, five of the properties are “within a private, gated subdivision adjacent to a reservoir on Kauai's lush North Shore known as Mali'e Wai, and the other which is known as the Villa at Secret Beach on exclusive Kauapea Road.”
All are on agricultural land that once was productive and now has been moved into the realm of “private” and “exclusive.” And all were sold with the help of Neal Norman, yet another one of those who talks about how much he loves Kauai and supports farming — even as he caters to the speculators who push land prices out of reach of farmers.
In a press release sent out about the auction sale, Neal says the properties hadn’t drawn any interest for 16 months, but after pairing with Concierge Auctions, gee, they were snapped right up.
Was it that, or was it the fact that the County Council had just legitimized the use of these properties as expensive vacation rentals? So I did quick Google search and voila, there’s Malie Wai — located on the “pristine” (um, if you say so) Kilauea Farms reservoir — which rents for $4,725 per week. As the website notes: “For larger groups rent together with Lake House II,” which goes for $6,000 per week.
Also included in the sale were 11 acres of “lakefront acreage,” which originally was listed for $900,000. It includes “an agricultural accessory building:”
This spacious, well-built structure with 1.5 bath, kitchenette, loft, and generous entry deck is currently used as an Ag/office. The Lakefront Acreage currently retains the guest house building right for the Mali’e Wai development: it is zoned for one building of 500 sq. ft. or less, to comply with County guest house regulations, however, additional agricultural accessory buildings can be permitted for this parcel.”
Or in other words, you can pass off more fake farm stuff to increase your density and the county won’t say a word.
As for the other property sold, The Villa at Secret Beach, why, that’s one of Michele Hughes’ vacation rentals. It goes for $1,850 per night. She already sold her Anini Vista TVR, Pueo Point, in August — a month after the law was changed to allow vacation rentals on ag land.
Even though she talked about how much she loved Kauai when she was asking the Council to change the law, her true sentiments were revealed in the press release (hat tip to Brad Parsons for the link) circulated by PRNewswire:
"Kauai is a special place to develop and own real estate, and I look forward to future projects on the Island," stated the Villa at Secret Beach seller and real estate investor Michele Hughes of the Michele Hughes Company.
Yeah, cuz it’s such easy pickings and they’re such a bunch of chumps you can pull off any kine.
My, what a lovely lucrative gift the County Council handed to the well-heeled developers and speculators on our island. But let’s not forget the rationale of Councilman Tim Bynum, who introduced the bill:
“Those of you who ordered your economic life, your well being, around the status quo, it’s not fair” to tell you to stop.
No, Tim, we wouldn’t want to throw a wrench into the lofty financial goals set by Michele, Neal and Malie Wai seller Jeff Smith.
While we’re on the topic of the vacation rental bill Tim drafted, it kind of blows my mind that we’re allowing people to apply for a use that could net them thousands of dollars per week, yet they don’t even have to pay an application fee. I mean, Planning Director Ian Costa earns over $100,000 per year. Don’t you think we should charge folks a fee to at least partially offset the cost of having him glance at their application?
And on a related note, remember how County Attorney Al Castillo and two of his beer-bearing deputies showed up, unbidden,, at the house of Councilman Dickie Chang one night to counsel him on the legalities of the vacation rental bill? By way of explanation, Deputy CA Mike Dahilig told me:
“We may even ask to sit down with Council members if we feel there is some confusion about the issue raised about them on the [Council] floor,” Mike said. “We’re going to advise and counsel, but never take any type of action to tell them how to vote. If we feel that there is some issues being raised that are not on point, we will raise issues with them.”
Yet even after Al advised Councilwoman Lani Kawahara to request an executive session when she complained of being harassed by Council Chairman Kaipo Asing, Al totally caved in the face of minimal resistance. According to the July 22, 2009 Council meeting minutes:
Mr. Castillo: Council Chair, Councilmembers. The subject
matter is an unanticipated matter and it does involve questions and issues
pertaining to the powers, duties, privileges, immunities, and liabilities of this body
under Chapter 92. I request that we go into executive session to discuss this matter
that falls under 92-5 subsection (4).
Mr. Bynum moved to go into executive session, seconded by Ms. Kawahara.
Chair Asing: There has been a motion to move into executive
session, there has been a second. I will not support going into executive session at
this particular time. I have not had an opportunity to make my presentation. I have
given the floor, the courtesy extended to both Councilmember Bynum and
Councilmember Kawahara, so I would like to finish up with my presentation. I
believe that it is fair and so I cannot move to go into executive session. I cannot
support going into executive session at this time.
Mr. Castillo: And Council Chair, I just wanted to say that means
that maybe at a later time today.
Chair Asing: Yes... well, maybe not even today.
Mr. Castillo: It is a totally... it might be a... it is a totally
unrelated to... not totally unrelated... it is unrelated to the presentation, but I will
just go take my seat.
So the CA’s office will fight for the rights of the TVR owners, but not its own Councilwoman.
Guess we know who, and what, is of value in this county.