Monday, February 27, 2017

Musings: 4 Sale or Rent

“Kauai's next wave” — as defined by Sunset magazine — looks an awful lot like the last one: Hanalei surf school, shave ice truck, medicinal herb farm in Kilauea. Oh, and the obligatory illegal homestay — on ag land, no less — featured on the cover as “Shhh! Our secret B&B.”
Like this is all hunky dory, and you, too, can move to Kauai and casually flout the law:
The reference is to Eddi Henry, a retired mortgage banker who built a house on ag land in Moloaa that she operates as “curated lodging experience” known as The Palmwood. Rooms go for $295-$350 per night. When the County Council was grappling with the homestay bill back in 2015, Henry showed up and played the sympathy card — “We're all retired senior citizens” — before claiming that TVRs and homestays “are completely different animals.”

Perhaps. But when they're operating without a permit, especially on ag land, they all fall into the same category: illegal. The Sunset story notwithstanding, we're wise to her dirty little secret.

Which is why Henry is now trying to secure an after-the-fact permit. That's likely to be tough, since the Council did not allow homestays/B&Bs on ag land in the ordinance it passed. It wisely recognized that uses like The Palmwood are working to make real farming economically unfeasible.

So Henry is taking the same approach as other illegal operators: gaming and dragging out the system. In this case, she's one of many seeking the recusal of the hearings officer assigned to review the appeals of denied applications.

Why bother to get a permit when you operate indefinitely and get free national publicity while keeping the legal challenge going? It's worked so well for the other illegal operators, and it keeps former deputy county attorney Jonathan Chun employed.

While it was somewhat amusing to find that, according to Sunset, the leeward side of the island does not exisit, or at least merit a mention, I shuddered a little when I read this comment from one of the interviewees:

We came here because of the lifestyle....

It was the reiteration of a quote from a North Shore high-end Realtor that I included in a piece called “Parallel Universes” that was published in Bamboo Ridge a while back and excerpted in what was then The Honolulu Advertiser:

“We all love Kauai. We don’t want it to change, either. It’s what we moved here for: the watersports, the surf, the weather, the golf. In fact, I had this little sign made for my desk, and when I’m talking to customers, I can turn it around and show it to them and it says, ‘I don’t sell real estate, I sell a lifestyle.’ I made that up myself. I think it pretty much sums it up.”

Yeah. I guess it does. And let's face it: it's a lifestyle that eschews local culture, and that most locals can't afford, anyway.

Meanwhile, to support this new lifestyle, the newbies keep providing us with revisionist history. 

Like how the proposed dairy site at Mahaulepu, which grew sugar for a century and more recently pastured cattle, is “pristine.”

And how the stream at the Keahua Arboretum shouldn't have a bridge because the land there is “sacred” and shouldn't be accessed by tourists — even though the existing ford previously linked to an interior loop road that connected Kuamoo Road to Lihue and was traveled by tourists. Not to mention the youngin's now go back there to smoke ice before work in the visitor industry, and too many hunters wantonly dump pig guts and carcasses.

And how the trees back there shouldn't be touched, even though they're all introduced species that were planted 50 to 80 years ago as timber demonstration projects.

And how “intensive agriculture” is horrible, even though the Hawaiians for centuries cultivated pretty much every inch of arable land, greatly altering the natural landscape in the process.

And how legally-permitted, long-existing water diversions that provide hydro and irrigation are now "new dams" created by “ecoterrorists” — and by this they mean KIUC and Grove Farm, as opposed to the real ecoterrorists who vandalized the diversion and generated all the concrete rubble that has flowed into the stream, along with rocks and silt, during the recent gullywashers: 


And how this diversion is also responsible for Hawaiian Homes keeping kanaka on the wait list, even though DHHL's plans to develop housing in the Wailua area were contingent on building more resorts at Lydgate to finance construction:  
California transplants Hope and Tim Kallai are filled with revisionist history and misinformation, including their claim that the "ala loa" hugs the coast through Moloaa and Waipake before inexplicably cutting through Mark Zuckerberg's property to access Koolau Road.

It reminds me of a George Orwell quote: “The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.”

How ironic that this destruction should be orchestrated by those who are convinced they are "saving" Kauai!

34 comments:

Anonymous said...

So this is what happens when the county lets people operate the whole time they challenge the fact they must shut down their illegal businesses. What a load that she operates this on agriculture land while her house is a "farm dwelling" . Growing tourists is not agriculture. The lady buys cheap agriculture land, builds an unpermitted resort, gets caught, will not shut down, but flouts the law on the cover of Sunset. Time to sunset the fake farm dwellings.

Anonymous said...

So Joan you support diverting the water or returning it to the stream? In the old days you would have been fighting to return it to the stream. Sounds like you support the bridge as well. Again, the old Joan we all used to like would have been right there with us, questioning the process and intent. So sad.

Josh Solbach said...

If you had a system where the land is leased instead of owned it would take a lot of the inequality between homeowners away. On the island I come from everyone has the right to a plot of land on which to build a house. This by itself lends to mixed income neighborhoods where no one is speculating on land because all they own is the house and the lease. Changing the way land is owned can help everyone who wants to live while cutting out the slimiest race on earth, the real estate speculator.

Anonymous said...

Maybe it's high time that Planning simply start enforcing the farm dwelling agreements as they were written, which require real farming take place in order to get a building permit. If not, then perhaps it's time to redistrict all the marginal ag lands to rural and keep the productive soil in ag. Too many games and too many loopholes.

Joan Conrow said...

@7:58 Please don't presume that you know what my stance is on any issue, or that we only have the black and white choices you present.

This particular diversion should be reworked so that it returns some water to the stream and also provides water for irrigation and other uses. The process to do that legally was actually under way before people took it upon themselves to engage in vandalism, followed by the Kallai's recent total misrepresentation of the issue. As a result, it's resulted in delays in restoring water to the stream and more expense for ratepayers.

What I have always been fighting for is making decisions and taking actions based on facts and accurate information, not knee-jerk reactions by the ignorant.

Anonymous said...

Hey Planning Dept.! Whatcha gonna do? Nothing again?

Anonymous said...

I am for that bridge....WE MUST get rid of all those Albizia trees in that forest....talk about water??...Those trees LOVE water...and what is wrong with the activists??? They picket Zukerberg but do nothing about Eddi Henry???? Hmmmm??? Planning Dept needs to get hot on her butt also....

Anonymous said...

I don't get this all or nothing approach to using stream water for irrigation. Unless you don't want ag or people using the sunnier, drier areas of the islands, the windward sides' plentiful streams must be tapped. And it's kinda late to decide to limit growth to only the wet sides.

Work done by biologists has shown that you don't need to restore 100% of the water to each stream in order to assure good habitat for native species.

There's always competing needs and what makes us a civilized society is how we handle those needs fairly. Yes, because of antagonism, stupidity, and litigation, it's a flawed system that takes too much money and too long to figure out, but the bottom line is that we need to be smart and share.

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that the development of off island markets and waiver of the Jones Act would contribute significantly to agriculture as a viable enterprise. It would make sense that if there was viable the major landowner's would be in production in some capacity. Farming is a business. A business needs markets to produce compensation for the investment and effort.

Anonymous said...

I used to own that 250 acre Moloaa parcel known as Kaapuna between the highway and Koolau Rd. and inside which the Palmwood is located. It is hilly and totally unsuitable for farming. I couldn't even get a rancher to run cattle in it in exchange for paying the manini ag-rate property taxes. The grass was poor quality and there wasn't enough rain fall to help it grow. Thieves would come in and steal rock or cut down trees to use for carving bowls or selling to home builders. That's why I sold it. Houses with yardens or vacation rentals are probably the best use for that acreage.

Anonymous said...

I think a bridge will prevent motor oil and crud from getting into the water as cars continually ford the stream.

Anonymous said...

"I used to own that 250 acre Moloaa parcel known as Kaapuna between the highway and Koolau Rd. and inside which the Palmwood is located. It is hilly and totally unsuitable for farming. I couldn't even get a rancher to run cattle in it in exchange for paying the manini ag-rate property taxes. The grass was poor quality and there wasn't enough rain fall to help it grow. Thieves would come in and steal rock or cut down trees to use for carving bowls or selling to home builders. That's why I sold it. Houses with yardens or vacation rentals are probably the best use for that acreage."

@12:35

Thank you for your comments. Although that may be true, unless and until, the AG designation is changed you must follow not skirt the law.

It is akin to a stop sign in the middle of nowhere with no cars around. It may not be necessary but you must stop at the stop sign since it is the law.

Anonymous said...

To 12:35 PM, thanks for sharing that info.

But there's a big difference between houses with yardens and illegal vacation rentals, among other things in terms of exacerbating the cost of living for people who live here.

Joan Conrow said...

I'll have an update on the stream situation tomorrow. Not surprisingly, the reality is quite different than the Facebook alternative facts!

Anonymous said...

The County and State have too much power.
What's wrong with a little old lady having a BnB?
She's in the middle of nowhere. The land couldn't even grow cane, let alone a competitive Ag product.
While I'm on it....how does Ag work when land is 100K per acre, water is 15K a meter electric is 7K per pole and I can get 5 years of food for less than the cost of fencing my land.
Ag law says you must sell an Ag product...not a profit. Buy a shovel, a pack of seeds and sell a wild chicken put it on your EZ1040 and pau, you are legal.
It is time for the f*ing busy bodies at the Council and Planning to create some housing for the people instead of picking on nice little old BnB ladies.
Besides...the lawsuit by the Bnb people can overturn County and State law. The County and State have been heavy handed, violating the 4th and 5th amendments...doing sting operations and huge cost Flyovers....whilst the County is going broke.
BnBs could add millions in taxes so those Baboozes at the County could have even more money to squander. Actually the plural of Babooze is Babeeze.


Anonymous said...

@ 2:17 PM - The huge ag parcels that the Kaapuna buyer sold had absolutely no effect on the cost of living for anyone but the purchasers.

Anonymous said...

Wow @6:15 PM, glad you are fighting for the millionaire transplants from Marin and LA, they are so oppressed. White man's burden and all.

Anonymous said...

Throw the old biddy in jail. Retired mortgage brokers should have more than a passing acquaintance with the law, so she's pretty clearly just another greedy old scofflaw.

Anonymous said...

The same laws that allow the millionaire transplants to easily move over are the same ones that have allowed Joan to easily come over, to thrive because of her ability to function in her native English (which she gleefully brandishes like a weapon) and to feel at ease in a system based on western culture. It's called "illegal occupation" by the U.S. Anyone originally from the mainland, including the transplants who have been here for 40 years and think themselves superior to the newbies, enjoy this historical benefit.

Anonymous said...

Yes, 9:10 AM, income disparities mean nothing at all. Why don't you see if Jason Momoa will hang with you, chief?

Joan Conrow said...

Actually, @9:10, nobody was taking any issue with the "laws that allow the millionaire transplants to easily move over." But then, making that connection allows you to take your little dig at me. In fact, you were so busy doing your dig that you missed the point: it's not about being superior to the newer newbies, it's about ensuring that they don't engage in revisionist history. And surely that's of interest to someone who is unhappy with "illegal occupation."

Anonymous said...

@9:20.. Maybe 9:10 was making a broader point than the narrow ones you are making, Joan.

Joan Conrow said...

Maybe, @9:45. But if a point's not clear, it's not well made.

Anonymous said...

Joan, Exactly what is your reason for identifying The Kallai's as "California transplants"? Seems like the way you use it is divisive and meant to show them in a negative light. How about you, Joan? Where are you from? What does where we are from have to do with the issue of water diversion? How exactly are these issues connected?

Joan Conrow said...

@11:56 The Kallais are offered as another example of transplants who start spreading revisionist history in order to promote their own ideal of what Kauai is or should be, a theme that runs through this post.

Anonymous said...

Illegal rentals seems to get this crowd all fired up. What about illegal farm workers? Does anybody care that most "farmers" in our country are "illegals"

Anonymous said...

Joan, As a reporter, don't you think it might be more useful to your readers to actually interview people like Hope Kallai instead of using facebook posts? You seem to get a lot of your info from facebook, but interviewing gives people a chance to explain their point of view directly to you. Much better than making assumptions based upon facebook posts. I have always thought the best news reporting was always based upon going directly to the source.

Joan Conrow said...

I use Facebook posts because this is information people are sharing with the world. If it was something or someone important, of course I would go to the source, which is how I found out what was actually happening on the stream. But when I am showing someone's foolishness or erroneous beliefs, their
FB posts are perfect. One thing I really do not like is people telling me how to write my blog. If you don't like my language or approach, go write your own blog.

Anonymous said...

Trump (POTUS) is actually POTortoise- a post tortoise:
"As an old farmer said, 'When you are driving down a
country road and you come across a fence post with
a tortoise balanced on top, that’s a ‘post tortoise’. You know he didn’t
get up there by himself, he doesn’t belong up there,
he doesn’t know what to do while he’s up there, he’s
been elevated beyond his ability to function, and you
just wonder what kind of dumb ass put him up there
to begin with.'”

Anonymous said...

I don't understand why it is so hard for the county to enforce existing laws. How can people very publicly flaunt the TVR laws with no consequences? It's almost hard to blame people for their actions if a complete lack of enforcement encourages them to keep on this path - you could almost excuse them for believing what they are doing is okay if no one acts to stop them.

My family and I are planning to move to Kauai this summer, and I don't ever want to be part of the problem. I feel it's the responsibility of transplants like us to better learn and understand the real history of a place. Thank you for your blog Joan and helping to educate us as malihini.

We are very fortunate to own a single family home on Kauai and rent it as a long-term rental. We probably could have bought a nicer home by trying to make it an illegal TVR (higher income for the owner) or got more money from our home trying to run it as an illegal TVR. Sometimes the number of people flaunting the TVR laws (and probably making a killing doing it) make me feel like a sucker for not going down that road, but it's just not right. I've read a lot of your past posts on this topic, but I still don't understand why there seems to be no willpower to enforce laws that are already on the books. We are far from perfect, and I'm sure we'll make plenty of mistakes as malihini, but we will always try to listen first. Thanks for the education on these key issues facing Kauai.

Anonymous said...

@ 1:23PM Feb 27

"@12:35
Thank you for your comments. Although that may be true, unless and until, the AG designation is changed you must follow not skirt the law.
It is akin to a stop sign in the middle of nowhere with no cars around. It may not be necessary but you must stop at the stop sign since it is the law."

Yes, "it is the law" just like our immigration laws and marijuana laws that seem to be flouted by the very entities that are charged with enforcing them. But today liberals and their governments seem to enjoy picking and choosing what laws they care to follow and/or enforce.

eddi henry said...

@6:57 am

Aloha Anonymous, this is Eddi Henry

“...but we will always try to listen first. Thanks for the education on these key issues facing Kauai.”

Above is an excerpt from your comments to this blog. It caught my eye because I put this into practice within my own life.
Listening first and more importantly to intake the information. Even if it is contrary to your current belief.
This election reflected the power of social media. Unfortunately people believed the falsehoods and alternative facts (propaganda).
People sought out information that only supported their current beliefs and those falsehoods were more than readily available.
Studies show that people naturally filter out anything against what they already believe…so it takes a conscious effort and practice to really listen.

Through this blog I have been Criminalized and depicted as an Old Biddy 😆 thats funny. But the Criminalization isn’t, thats serious. We have so much of that globally right now. The disenfranchised mobbing together behind the divisive words of a Demagogue who manipulate followers to target who they want their Villain to be.

I really don’t believe in communicating with folks in this way… I don’t understand the Anonymous thing either.
If one has something to say and its a heartfelt issue, why be anonymous? Stand up. Claim your words that you want heard.

"I feel it's the responsibility of transplants like us to better learn and understand the real history of a place.” anonymous quote @6:57

I welcome you to learn and understand the real history and facts about Kauai’s alternative accommodations, specifically Homestays or Bed and Breakfasts’ which are not TVRs’ (NON Owner Occupied) but rather Owner Occupied Homes. Please accept my invitation to meet with me at my home, The Palmwood.
This invitation extends to anybody else wanting to learn about this highly contentious issue that is not isolated to Kauai.
Lets talk.
Below I have attached the Sunset Article with a little of who I am at home in my native culture as a Korean/Portuguese born and raised in Japan. I am 56 years old and am sure Im not an old biddy, Ha! Ha!

Dusty rooms and doilies? Not a chance. “This isn’t like staying in your aunt’s guest room,” says Eddi Henry, the proprietor of this modern bed-and-breakfast. Eddi and her husband, Steven, run the 5-acre property in the hidden valley of Moloa‘a, where Eddi's son, Mychael, splits cooking duties with his mother. “It wasn’t my intent for people to be coming for the food, but they are,” says Eddi, who maintains an open-door policy for anyone who wants to come in for a meal. “Neighbors see smoke from the barbecue and next thing I know I’ll be feeding 12 people.” An Auntie Eddi menu might include an upside-down almond cake with caramelized apples and bananas, plus a tropical-fruit salad served in a papaya bowl. Or, if you’re there on a morning when Mychael is wearing the apron, you might get crabcakes with lemon aioli and a French omelet, plated with seasonal fruit and local greens. She and Mychael make a point of showing guests how to experience the best of Kauai on and off their property. Whether they’re recommending local jogging trails, hole-in-the-wall restaurants, or a hidden beach, the Henrys send visitors in the right direction—which, on Kauai, is pretty much any direction you choose.



Joan Conrow said...

Thank you for commenting, Eddi, even though you managed to promote your business and failed to address the key issue here: you are operating an illegal visitor accommodation on ag land. You are the last person who should be advising malihini on how to act.

Anonymous said...

"I don’t understand the Anonymous thing either.
If one has something to say and its a heartfelt issue, why be anonymous? Stand up. Claim your words that you want heard."

Eddi - Posting anonymously is a great boon to expression and democracy. Anonymously, people aren't shy about divulging their true feelings on a subject and don't have the fear that they will be ridiculed, or even stalked, in public for their beliefs. Why do you think we vote for our politicians anonymously? This is freedom of expression! Sure some folks are immature jerks and Joan deletes those posts. But here we enjoy free discourse without fear. Think about!