The Coco Palms developers are in danger of losing their permits.
At yesterday's Planning Commission meeting, Planning Director Mike Dahilig said it's clear developers will not meet the April 13 deadline of completing demolition within six months of pulling permits, which would put them in violation of one condition of their permit.
As a commissioner reminded developer Chad Waters: "A lot was given, and with much given, a lot was expected. It was given with the understanding deadlines would be met. So far it hasn't been a very good show on your part."
Waters, doing some really fast talking, said they can't actually do any demolition until they get a loan that will also allow them to actually purchase the project, but if it looks like they might lose a permit, the lender could delay funding. He blamed the holidays — really? — for delays in getting financing. Gee, you'd think Waters would have figured all that in before he pulled the permit.
Anyway, good for Mike for standing firm and saying he will hold the developer to the conditions of the permit. Will the Commission back him up, or let another developer play string along?
So Gov. Ige is finally feeling enough heat that he brought up air conditioning for schools in his State of the State address. He's promised to use $100 million of Green Energy Market Securitization funds to install energy-efficiency measures and air-conditioning units in classrooms where children need it the most.
However, as our own Mina Morita — former director of the state Public Utilities Commission — notes:
The fund the Gov is using is just a clean energy technology loan program where a/c doesn't qualify in the definition or use. If you read between the lines the money will be used for repairs and upgrades to increase renewables and efficiencies which may include some a/c. It is not a direct commitment to deal with the problem. The only real commitment is if it's included in the general fund budget.
Mina delves into the issue more deeply on her blog, Energy Dynamics. She's running for one of three vacancies on the KIUC board, bringing in an incredible level of expertise that could only benefit co-op members. Watch your mail for ballots, starting in mid-February.
Ige also acknowledged the state erred when it did not follow the law in either the Hawaii Superferry or Thirty Meter Telescope projects.
Yes, and the state also erred in its interpretation of the state shoreline setback laws. Regardless of how you feel about any of those issues, there is a process, and the state needs to follow its own rules.
Speaking of following the rules, the Kauai County Planning Department has hit Bill and Kathy Cowern with a $10,000 fine. The county found the couple's Hale Kua visitor accommodation operation violated the zoning ordinance. According to website, Hale Kua offers four B&Bs and a TVR in the agricultural district, none of them permitted.
Meanwhile, the county Planning Department has again amended the homestay/B&B bill, this time to prohibit such uses outside of the Visitor Destination Area (VDA). The draft bill also would funnel renewal fees into a fund to finance enforcement of transient accommodations.
If the ordinance is ultimately adopted, the two-dozen homestays that have already gotten use permits to operate outside the VDA would not be affected.
The department took the action after the County Council indicated it was heading in that direction, even though Councilmembers Gary Hooser and JoAnn Yukimura continued to argue for allowing such uses outside the VDA. Hooser also supported such uses on ag land.
The Planning Commission held a public hearing on the proposed ordinance yesterday.
In terms of enforcement, Commissioner Wayne Katayama noted that “the fines are pretty modest compared to the daily and weekly rates they're enjoying.” But he also indicated he didn't want the county to spend a lot of time busting people who were in violation because they failed to renew their permits.
Well, that's great, if your intent is to keep the TVR numbers up. But when people have been given a tremendous financial gift, in the form of a use that runs with the land, you'd think they'd be motivated to renew in a timely fashion. If they don't, they're out. Some owners are two and three years behind on renewal. How generous should the county be?