Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Musings: Fibbing and Fudging

Dawn came too soon, but there was no denying it had come, so I stumbled out of bed and Koko and I headed out into the half-light of night morphing into day. As we walked, I looked back to see the beginning of morning. Long, thin bands of gold appeared in the east, above the Giant, and great swirls and swaths of pink overlapped floating puffs of gray as they stretched across the sky to touch the interior mountains.

Before us, where the night was rapidly receding, I was struck by how even common things can take on the appearance of something else — a rooster on the road appearing as a cat with its tail raised, for instance — when distorted by darkness.

And sometimes the distortions are intentional, as in Councilman Tim Bynum’s recent denials and clams regarding his current difficulties with the county Planning Department, which I reported on Oct. 27.

When I read what Tim said in Andy Parx's blog, it didn’t ring true with what I had learned in my investigations — which, by the way, were not informed in any way by either newly elected Councilman Mel Rapozo or County Prosecutor Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho, as Tim and Andy claim. So yesterday I went down to the planning department and got the documentation that refutes it.

In August 2005, Tim filed a zoning permit application to build a “new nursery/family room, bedroom, bathroom, deck – addition” to his home at 5935 Kololia Place, Unit 1, which is a CPR ag lot in the Homesteads. The plans called for adding 699 square feet of living space and 213 square feet of deck. Copies of the plan show the addition could be accessed through sliding glass doors on the deck, as well as through the laundry room off the garage. Plans also showed a “wet bar” with a 12x12-inch sink centered in a 10-foot corner of the family room. No appliances are shown on the plans.

The application was approved, and on Aug. 24, 2005, Tim signed a use agreement in which he confirmed the subject premises would be utilized only for a single family residence and that no changes would be made to intensify its use without permission from the department. He also agreed “to allow periodic inspection of the premises and structure(s) by the Planning Department.”

Planning inspector Patrick Henriques said that agreement allows inspectors to go on the property without being charged with trespassing. On April 14, Patrick and inspector Shiela Miyake went to the property to investigate a complaint. Complaints are not part of the public record, so I was unable to review it. However, contrary to what Parx claimed, the planning department, just like the police department and state conservation enforcement office, routinely accepts anonymous complaints.

As a result of that visit, Henriques sent Bynum a certified letter on April 15, 2010. Copies also were sent to the other two owners in the CPR. It stated that the department had done a site inspection on the subject property on April 14 “and found the following violations of the zoning code:

a. Conversion of the Single Familu Dwelling into a Multi Family Dwelling without proper permits constitutes a violation.
Conversion of the Family Room into a Dwelling Unit without proper permits constitutes a violation.

b. Violation of the USE AGREEMENT executed between the owner (Unit 1) and the County of Kauai.

Pursuant to Chapter 8, Kauai County Code, you are directed to comply with the following requirements immediately:

a. Cease and desist use of above noted conversions as a dwelling unit and remove all illegal gas and/or electric service supplies along with cooking facilities.

b. Submit plans and applications along with filing fees for review by the Department for all illegal construction, additions and alterations. Such construction, additions and alterations without proper approval shall be demolished and removed.

Please be advised that the State Department of Health have specific wastewater management requirements that will have to be addressed with regard to the kitchen that exists within the illegal Dwelling Unit.

Failure to contact the Planning Department within 15 calendar days upon receipt of this letter to provide a written acceptable plan for compliance provides us with no other alternative but to refer this matter to the Prosecutor’s Office.

Certified mail receipts show Tim signed for the letter.

In talking with Patrick and reviewing the Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance, it became clear that a kitchen is not determined solely by the presence of a stove, as Parx claimed. Rather, the CZO defines a kitchen as any room used, intended or designed to be used for preparing food. Intent can be determined by such things as installed appliances or a space in a countertop. Under the CZO, a dwelling unit is described as a unit used for cooking, eating, sleeping. So seeing a rice cooker in a “family room” that also contained a sink and a refrigerator — which is what Tim is claiming a "trespasser" saw — could very well be considered a kitchen use under the CZO. And as Patrick noted, “His permit is for an addition, which is different than a dwelling unit.”

According to the “exclusive interview” that Tim gave Parx:

When Bynum received the violation notice he says he contacted planning officials by phone and they agreed that the violation notice based on the rice cooker complaint was bogus and said they would send him a letter requesting an inspection, which Bynum says he has yet to receive.

It seems the Planning Department had a very different understanding of those phone calls, based on a July 26 letter to Tim entitled “Request Permission to Entry.” It states:

Pursuant to our telephone conversations on June 4, 2010, June 10, 2010 and July 1, 2010, the Planning Department’s continuance request for an interior inspection of the subject premises and a timeline for compliance have been denied.

Therefore, the department is hereby formally requesting that an interior inspection of the subject premises in your presence be conducted to verify the uses as permitted. A timely response regarding this matter will be greatly appreciated.

It then advises Tim to contract Patrick to schedule an on-site inspection and gives a telephone number. Certified mail receipts show that Tim signed for that letter on 7/27/10.

Parx went on to write:

The planning department originally sent Bynum a notice of violation based upon the “trespassing and looking though the window and seeing a rice cooker” incident but, he says, he immediately called and was told that the notice was in error and that a rice cooker did not constitute a stove according to county code. At that point he was told that a notice requesting an inspection would be forthcoming which, he says, he will be happy to comply with when it arrives.

And as I’ve pointed out, that notice arrived three months ago.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the investigative reporting Joan. Sounds like a previous comment here about Tim being a "pathological liar" rings true to some extent. I appreciate reading the details of what transpired between Tim and the Planning Department. Interested to hear his rebuttal.

Anonymous said...

Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive

Anonymous said...

Tim is a pathological liar.

Anonymous said...

who's next..........buck Fynum?

Anonymous said...

Hmm. At first blush the whole thing seems rather silly. I mean someone sees a rice cooker on the counter and issues a violation and all hell breaks loose.

I also had a really good laugh at the vision of the always elegant and well dressed Sheila Miyake sneaking around in her nice 4 inch shiny leather pumps to look in someones window. I t really all does seem kind of silly.

However, when we look at both Joan and Andy's reporting, i would like to take the middle ground and say that there is truth on both sides.

I of course must side with Joan's paperwork sleuthing, but i also can't discredit Bynum's take on it either.

There may indeed be some smack of a vendetta against Bynum, or there may just be the idea of holding Bynum up as a public example of the fact that the planning director and the department is now willing to go after anybody for violations no matter how small even if they hold public office.

Which begs the question where were they when there were major violations going on elsewhere on our island from large developers? I wonder if Miss Sheila went and took a look on their counter tops as well.

Or is this ushering in a new era of responsibility and enforcement for the planning department?

We may all never no exactly what the truth is in this. But I thank both Joan and Andy for bringing it all to light, and presenting both sides, for us all to have a choice in our own opinions. After all that's what good reporting is all about.

Anonymous said...

As the world turns...

It does sound a little smarmy on Tim's part, but where you say "So seeing a rice cooker in a “family room” that also contained a sink and a refrigerator ...— could very well be considered a kitchen use under the CZO.

That just goes too far. I mean its one thing to want to bust Tim, but really - a wet bar plus a rice cooker equals a kitchen? That sounds more like a college dorm room. And what aabout the thousand carports on Kauai, equipped with oven, stove and propane tank, picnic table, sink and grill? Are they now kitchens? Better start busting the luaus.

By all means, bust the man if he broke the law, (and maybe he broke the "agreement") but claiming that someone is a lawbreaker for having a refrigerator and a sink (a wet-bar almost by definition) plus a $30 Wal-Mart appliance plugged into the wall because "technically we can call it a kitchen" is getting almost fascist in terms of wanting government intrusion and control.

Anonymous said...

Nice investigation, Joan.

Too bad we didn't get this before the election.

Anonymous said...

Now we can see why Tim didn't want any inspections on the TVRs.

The issue is not whether a rice pot and a fridge is a kitchen but whether that made his addition into a mf dwelling unit. It sure sounds like it when he already admitted his daughter's family is living in it.

I want to know why won't Tim allow the inspection? He should be a model, esp since he's always preaching transparency and accountability.

Anonymous said...

Glad to report that no one in our household voted for Tim. I'll take two of the Buck Fynum t-shirts, please!

Anonymous said...

Buck Fynum t-shirts!? Who's selling those?

We gotta listen to that whiney -ss --stard for two more years?

Anonymous said...

Tim tells Andy he's waiting for the letter to inspect when he actually got it back in July? He tells Andy he's happy to comply but doesn't return their calls? He's Mr. Up and Up, transparent as charcoal.

Anonymous said...

I am happy to hear of your research and pleased to read the results.

Anonymous said...

You can't believe anything Tim says or anything Andy writes. Together they are a recipe for TOTAL BS.

coast h said...

this whole thing is starting to sound a whole lot like the Bill Clinton witch hunt. Ok, he got the ag cpr lot. Added on his little "ohana" unit like thousands of others (locals) have. A little under the radar, stretching some rules. I know the old saw about the do as I say not as I do deal, politicians acting above the laws they legislate. The hypocrisy of his bill and his vote.
It just seems pretty manini to go so hard and strong on him over this, because it just might open up a huge can of worms for all those who like the old Kauai, when it was more a country life, and if you needed to make room in your Home for family it was no big thing. A case where a bunch of johnny come latelys, white knights in their shining armor make a scene and and screw it all up trying to do the "right thing".
Of course there's dissent between this camp and Parx's as Andy has taken up with Tim. It might appear to be a case of birds of a feather........and it is. Not in the realm of array but color. Andy knows that a bruised apple is better than no apple, so lets be thankful for the representation because it's no small fete to be a........................ caucasian on the council. I'd garner at least 97.5% of Bynum's vocal detractors are............... caucasian. Is that just a case of what local culture is so guilty of........ the crab bucket syndrome? Or is he really that bad? Do we really need a lunch time pep talk or did a lot of voters see some merit in Fynum? Now that we have a new team for the upcoming season let's just let things be and hope that some real common sense prevails and we see some good positive results.
Or buck Fynum, let the battles begin!
Oh yea, Clinton. When Chelsey came home on vacation in her fist year away at college she announced to her parents she had met a nice boy and had a boyfriend. Hillary being a concerned and caring mother wanting to make sure Chelsey was being safe asked if she was having sex yet. Chelsey thought a moment then answered, well, not according to dad.

Anonymous said...

yeah, yeah, coast haole, just look the other way, pretend nothing's happening, that's the ticket.... cuz at least tTim's a haole, even if he's an fnnn haole

Anonymous said...

It's not so much that Tim is stupid. It's that he is also a liar. I know the guy and he is always mixing up the lies that he tells. He is also arrogant enough to have the attitude of "I got mine so enough already. You cannot have yours. Because I love Kauai." That makes him stupid and a liar. A stupid liar.

coast h said...

I am not a fan of Tim, nor am I a supporter. I did not want him re elected. The reference to any haole is better than no haole was my "assumption" as to why Andy Parx seemed to be backing him. The more opinions and takes people have posted here on him as comments confirms what my gut told me about the guy. Like I said earlier, an empty barrel johnny come lately. But I've lived here long enough to know that on such a small island it is really stupid to go about making "mortal" enemies.