Scarlet streaks and swirls smeared the sky, stained the sea a similar shade. And then the sun rose as a golden orb from water that warmed sand untouched by footprints, save for the tiny tracks of ruddy turnstones foraging in the foam.
Birds and crabs aren't the only creatures foraging on the beach. Let's not forget voracious upscale realtors like Neal Norman, who is making a small fortune selling oceanfront digs to Julia Roberts and other wealthy elites. Neal has listed Julia's Haena house for $17 million — after selling her the old Faye estate (with its vacation rental permit) on Hanalei Bay for a reported $13.4 million in 2011.
Though Neal personally owns an oceanfront house on conservation land in Haena — where part of the public beach has been stolen by sandbags thickly vegetated in irrigated naupaka — he doesn't dabble solely in seaside real estate. A look at the current listings page on his misnamed "Hawaii Life" website shows a plethora of properties that would be best termed as a blatant misuse of agricultural land.
Like the seven properties totaling more than $80 million in the Kauapea-Kilauea road area above Kauapea (Secret) Beach — an area that not so long ago was being successfully farmed, until rising property taxes drove out the farmers.
He's also the listing agent for other multi-million-dollar estate properties on ag land in Kalihiwai Ridge, Anini Vista, Kalihiwai and Kapahi and he's selling the ag estate lots that displaced Growing Greens, a longtime nursery on Kawaihau Road.
Then there's the $3.5 million, 63-acre ranch property at the base of Kalalea mountain in Anahola, which he advertises as:
Approved 5-unit CPR project AND Tentative Subdivision Approval for a 12-lot agricultural subdivision (with density potential for up to 19 home sites). Water supplied via two existing County water meters and supplemented by a private well which is capable of over-supplying the residential and agricultural needs [wink, wink] of the parcel.
To be fair, Neal does have one property euphemistically listed as a “farmer's delight” — a 35-acre parcel in the Moloaa hui with “farm dwelling rights” (more wink, wink) and ag water only. No doubt the $950,000 price tag would delight a bonafide farmer.
In short, Neal is a classic example of a guy who is steadily destroying agriculture on Kauai by driving up land values to the place where they simply cannot afford farming.
But that doesn't stop him from pretending he's something different, as in a lover of the land and a friend of farmers. As his website proclaims:
What’s more, Neal has cared for Kauai’s “aina” by planting thousands of trees for the benefit of future generations and serving on agriculture boards and committees so that farmers would be able to develop improved and reliable organic standards.
Neal also supported Bill 2491 and GMO Free Kauai, which again raises the issue of just what and who are really behind this movement. If you follow the progression, Neal and his co-horts are running out of ag land to sell on the North Shore, so they've moved into Kapaa and are headed southwest — once they dislodge those pesky seed companies.
But I'm sure Neal is driven soley by his love for Kauai, rather than pure greed. After all, as his website gushes:
Neal is grateful for the wonderful life he gets to enjoy everyday on Kauai and is a strong believer in giving back.
Great! Glad to hear it! So how about giving us back our ag land, Neal? Oh, and the beach, too, while you're at it.