A high school student recently emailed to ask if I would be her mentor on a senior project about creative writing. In contemplating her request, I began thinking of all the many ways, far more lucrative than fiction, that creative writing is employed when I happened upon a wondrous example of the craft at work.
It’s the draft Environmental Assessment prepared to help Secret Beach Properties — developed by Michele and Justin Hughes — get several after-the-fact permits. It seems the Hugheses got busted for building some two miles of lateral trails and two mauka-makai trails in the conservation district and Special Management Area at Kauapea Beach without state and county approval. And now, four years later, they’re having to set things right.
The document maintains the fiction first contrived by the Hugheses and repeated by attorney Lorna Nishimitsu — the Hugheses hadn’t cut the trees that launched the investigation that led to the discovery of the illegal trails; they’d only “fixed up” old hippie trails to remove the trees they hadn’t cut, and the trails are used for maintenance purposes.
Of course, one look at the photos – scroll to page 92 of the draft EA — makes it quite clear that these trails are elaborate structures created not for maintenance or vegetation removal, but to give tourists renting the pricey vacation rentals the Hugheses built on ag land their own private access to what is marketed as a “very private Secret Beach.”
The author of the draft EA then embellishes the tale quite a bit, and introduces some humor, by writing:
To assist in the agricultural operations, several mauka-makai trails were established for the planting, maintenance, and harvesting of tropical flowers and other ornamental plants.
Now, if you’ve ever been to Kauapea Beach, you’d know that flowers and ornamental foliage would never survive on that steep, salt-drenched bluff, and not even fake farmers like the Hugheses would be foolish enough to try.
There’s more creativity to be found when the draft EA gets to the part where the trails will benefit the public by allowing emergency responders to more quickly access the beach. Never mind that there’s actually a vehicular access not far away, and I imagine it would be favored over steep stairs by fire trucks and ambulances.
My favorite part, however, is to be found near the end, where the document’s author gives corporations a degree of personhood that even the U.S. Supreme Court might not have envisioned:
Existing and proposed improvements will allow Secret Beach Properties, LLC to walk, police, and maintain the Property.
And there you have it.
Those are the “people” who now own so much of our coastline and benefit from the mini resorts built upon it.