Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Musings: Drive Time Dirt

I never thought anyone would actually buy a lot and build in Kealia Kai, but the McMansions are finally going up, offering that coveted ocean view — if you don’t mind lookin’ at the highway, too.

The first megahouse is visible coming and going, and when I initially saw it, I thought it was a pavilion, or community center. Then I remembered, oh yeah, they don’t have those in faux ag subdivisions. Now earth is being moved to create more supersized building pads.

A sight that did please me was a state road crew putting asphalt under the guard rail at Kalihiwai. I figured they must be doing it to keep the weeds away — and that could mean less Round-up sprayed along the roadside. One can only hope.

Less pleasing was that gnarly steep driveway being gouged into the hillside at the bend in Anini Road. I had to go check it out after Kaimi said it looked like another Pilaa-kine landslide waiting to happen, sending tons of soil onto the reef, and that’s a favorite local fishing spot, too. They’re exposing a helluva lot of dirt, just so somebody can literally claw their way to the top and build yet another house that will be oversized and under-occupied.

At least the public can see that dirt being moved. The “negotiations” between the Lege, Lingle Administration and Hawaii Superferry are all being done in private.

What’s the point of having public hearings if they’ve already hammered out in secret a bill they know the majority will approve? Kind of like, what’s the point of doing an EIS if you’ve already allowed the environmental impacts to occur?

Why don’t they do their wheeling and dealing in public, so we can know what’s really going on, instead of having to rely on canned comments made to the media?

Oh, right, because then we would know what’s really going on.

On the home front, Surfrider Foundation is collecting donations to help pay legal expenses for those arrested in the Superferry standoff. You can send checks to PO Box 819, Waimea, 96796. So far as I know, only Gilbert Nieto has gotten his surfboard back, and it wasn’t from the cops. Somebody took it home after Gilbert got arrested at the harbor , then tracked him down through the coconut wireless.

Those who attended the opening night of Linda Lingle takes on Kauai know it was riveting political theater. If you missed it, don’t despair. Local playwright and filmmaker Koohan "Camera" Paik, who created the oft-visited “Discover Kauai” video on You Tube, is planning to stage a repeat performance entitled “The Aina Monologues.”

Paik found the meeting “electrifying” and was intrigued by the rich cast of characters and many points of view expressed. She spent four days transcribing testimony from the meeting — the video can be found on Lingle’s website — to glean the best bits, and will be holding auditions on Saturday afternoon.

“I want it to bring us together as an island, not separate us,” she said. “It’s just so relevant. That’s what’s pushing me forward.”


Anonymous said...

Although I'm the poster of the few pro-HSF posts on this blog, I am not a stranger to feelings of "yearning for the past". I grew up in rural Illinois. The high school I went to was built on farmland during the summer after my 8th grade. I've lived the life of seeing "rural" become "suburban".

We now live on acreage on the BI with no one around us. If that changes...it changes...there's nothing we can do about it.

People MUST come to terms with growth, the American way, because, like it or not, we are in America.

You decry the McMansions. Well, whoever owned the land before didn't have to sell it. If it were zoned not to build, county officials didn't have to rezone it.

We're not talking about government takeover of private property. Everything that is happening is, more than less, voluntary based on buying and selling.

Because Kauai County isn't an independent entity, but part of the state, it must submit to "democracy in action"...there is no other choice. Very similar to all those big city people coming out to the rural areas and creating suburbs. Can't be helped.

66,000 Boomers retiring each month now...and getting an overall inheritance of $7 trillion...most going into travel and real estate investment.

Just as we didn't like our rural area becoming surburban, I don't expect Kauai to totally like what is happening. But you can't stop it, really. Sooner or later things will change so that all that you know now will become the past.

We've embraced the change...can deal with it...not fight it but learn to profit from it. It's either that or be buried by it.

ps - we still love the HSF and believe that whatever changes it brings to the outer islands can be lived with.

RobertWood said...

HI Big Island Anonymous,

I am curious what motivated you to select a rural area of Hawaii for your home?


Anonymous said...

Aloha, Robert

Our love for rural living stems from our individual upbringings more than anything else, I suppose. We are also very private people. Prior to the move to the BI, we lived 17 years in a large house on acreage abutting a state park...like having a 5,000 acre back yard! We had only one neighbor on any side of us. Throughout that 17 years, I think we had contact with that neighbor maybe 10 times.

We do everything together, shun "community affairs", "clubs", etc. Obviously, I do like to keep on top of things via the internet. One must know which way the wind is blowing in order to fill one's sails,so to speak.

Since retiring to the BI with the financial resources to recreate our love of "no people around", we have a few acres (gated) surrounded by other tracts of land far in excess of our acreage, but with absoutely no development. These are private property tracts, so our "isolation" is not assured, but very probable for many years to come. Even if a house or two might emerge, it would be so far away fron us so as to be a minor inconvenience to our otherwise pristine views.

We chose the BI (Kauai was our second choice, but too small and too "north") because it is BIG. The chance of it filling up in our lifetime...especially where we live...is remote.

We do like the ability to live "rural" yet easily visit "urban" settings. The HSF would do that for us nicely. Almost like "driving" from the "super-boonies" into the "city", as we used to do on the mainland.

We love the Costco, Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Lowes, etc that are here and can't wait for the Target, Circuit City, etc that are coming.

Basically we want to live close enough to drive to a "medium size city" by mainland standards at least. Kailua-Kona is becoming that, which we like (since we live way way out of town and don't have jobs to drive to, etc)

In general, I feel Hawaii is the ideal setting for early retirement (we retired at 50) IF you can come here with lots of money and no debt AFTER you buy your home/land of your dreams. Fortunately, it worked out well for us.

Anonymous said...

ps to the previous comment:

We didn't move here because it was "Hawaii". We moved here for the tropical weather, clean air, best scuba diving in the state, ability to live "rural", reasonable "city ammenities" and improving all the time.

Frankly, if Pittsburg had all this to offer, we would just as likely moved there.

We are not into the "Hawaiian thing". We are not going native. We are, in truth, more like rich American expats living in a foreign land.

Don't start now: it's not a foreign land, mainlanders are not "expats", etc. Maybe a more apt analogy is living just outside the reservation in New Mexico, etc.

I'm against the Akaka (sp) bill as well, or any other "native entitlements". You're in America now...get with the program.

Larry said...

Cities do plan and limit growth. That's why Portland looks so great and its transit system works so well, for example.

There are architects such as Peter Calthorpe who design whole municipalities.

For us, it's rampant and uncontrolled development, coupled with (IMHO) rather stupid transit planning. Don't get confused. It's not the American way here, its something peculiar to Hawaii that's ruining our environment.

Anonymous said...

I'll concede the "uncontrolled growth" part relative to infrastructure. That part is a shame.

However, "uncontrolled growth" relative to some who want Hawaii to be more like the 19th century than the 21st century is irrational.

Atempting to artifically restrict growth for reasons such as "native subsistance living" or "the sacred mountain top", etc is rediculous.

You want subsistance living? Move to the deeper parts of the Amazon.

RobertWood said...

Dear Big Island Anonymous,

Exceptional candor, thanks!

I would be remiss if I failed to mention that I find several of your comments deeply unsettling.

Your retirement sounds so dreamy, and the idyllic setting one of such extraordinary beauty.

Thanks again for taking the time to write.




I was just about to post the above thanks and noticed this reply:

“You want subsistence living? Move to the deeper parts of the Amazon.”

You write so well, with such feeling and élan, that this comment is out of character and of questionable usefulness. Are you familiar with the environmental concerns of the Amazon region?

In any case, I really do appreciate your voice in these matters as a means to attaining a broad understanding from all points of view.

So Thanks.


Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, Robert, that some of my comments have left you unsettled, but as the great philosopher Popeye said: "I yam what I yam". I've been known to be, in certain business circumstances, a very unsettling man.

I do have a rather unshakable mainland (midwestern) mentality coupled with a formative social environment characterized by "get over it" and "what have you done for me lately". Such pragmatic traits have allowed me to create for ourselves a great life over the 3+ decades of our marriage.

Don't rest on the past. Don't assume the past will be like the future (or as they say in the stock market: "past performance does not guarantee future results"). "Luck" is opportunity plus preparedness. Don't expect "entitlements" - learn to make your own fortune in an ever-changing world. Stability is an illusion. If the reality changes, learn the new rules and profit by them. Take it easy, but take it. These were the rules of life I learned.

You get the picture. This tends to color my opinion on many subjects.

I simply cannot accept the rationale of "interrupting canoe practice" for stoping the HSF, or "sacred cultural practices" or "gods of the mountain" from stopping further observatories on Mauna Kea. Etc, etc. Animistic cultural/religious beliefs just don't wash with me.

My "subsistance living" comment was a jibe to the Hawaiians who assume (!!) that their "rights" to hunt, gather and fish for a living (rather than join the rest of us in the "present") somehow trumps a variety of modern development. I just don't buy it.

Therefore, I opined in my typical cynical/humorous manner that a more "subsistance-friendly" location for them may be the Amazon. I have been to the Amazon Territory. It's a beautiful place to visit (wouldn't want to live there) and know just a little of their environmental concerns.

ps - recent news reports tonight indicate that Lingle has her ducks in a row with a majority behind her and the special session will be called maybe next week. A week later, the HSF may be firing up her engines. They're fine-tuning the second edition of the document.

RobertWood said...

Hi Big Island Anonymous,

Okay. One more question, and then let us allow a new day to begin.

If you could name three things that are most precious to you, what would they be?

Please enjoy that wonderful life that you have carved out for your family.


Anonymous said...

BI Anonymous,
How nice that you can detach yourself from the community that you live in and live life your way. However, the that "democracy" that is in action should disturb you on some level. Unless your view of pragmatism includes the wheel greasing that took (and will take) place to get the HSF up and running.

Anonymous said...

I've enjoyed our back-and-forth comments, Robert. To answer your final query, the 3 things that are most precious to me are:

1. Family, especially my wife. There is nothing I wouldn't do for her and them.

2. Friends. We have a small circle of true friends who we cherish and help, as the need may be, and who would do the same for us.

2. Inner peace for me and my family, even if it sometimes requires a money and power enforced "bubble" in which to reside. A "mini-world" of physical, social, mental and spiritual tranquility residing inside this tragi-comedy "real world" (even in HI).

3. Religious beliefs play a significant factor, but we will not divert into that tangent. Suffice to say that our belief includes the opinion that mankind cannot possibly solve its own problems, but that "things will be taken care of" in due time. We just have to "tread water" and "be no part of the world" by becoming emeshed in it's military/political dealings. We're mere observers.

And to the anon poster focusing on "disturbing democracy", I grew up in Chicagoland...the home of the Richard J. Daly "Machine". He was Chicago's mayor for decades. His son is the current mayor.

All politics, the wheels upon which democracy rolls, are inherently frought with "dealing", certain "injustices", etc. The human condition being what it is, it can't be helped.

Political expediency, "one hand washing the other", etc is (unfortunately, really) how we limp along in this great democracy. "Injustice" can be found in everything from the "electoral college" to the HSF. Even the best, most revered politicians have had to "deal" to amass votes. In all such "dealings", some group somewhere will be suffering a degree of injustice.

It's like a sail boat tacking right and left into the wind...erring in one direction and then another, but ultimately moving forward to it's definition of "the greater good", whatever that is, based on the administration de jur.

Lawyer friends of mine often say that if you want justice, don't go to the courthouse. After all, do you want to rest your fate to 12 people "too dumb to get out of jury duty" (a populiar opinion) to decide who has the best lawyer?

Finally, an apology to the host of this blog. I do not intend to "hijack" your space with comments in excess of your posts and will not do so again. This thread just seemed to "flow", possibly off-course. A veritable verbal drought will follow. :)

Joan Conrow said...

Dear Anonymous:
Thank you for your sensitivity to "hijacking" the comment area of my blog. I welcome all views, and it's good to hear a variety of opinions, but brevity is always appreciated.

I, too, found many of your comments deeply disturbing, and likely will address some of them in future posts, as they are certainly not unique to you.

In the meantime, I strongly urge you to leave your little cocoon, no matter how comfortable it might seem, and begin interacting with others in your community. To borrow your phrase: What have you done for the Big Island lately?

Finally, I also would suggest you do some reading on Hawaii's history and culture. I've found in my 20 years of living here that community involvement and an understanding and appreciation of the culture have enriched my life tremendously.

I'd hate to see you miss that opportunity.