Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Musings: Runaway Train

I love the geometry of light that is created when the sun is low in a cloudy sky. Large squares illuminating the slopes of the distant Haupu range. Triangles running up the side of the Giant. Rectangles beneath a row of guava. Octagons shooting through a grove of ironwood.

And so we walked this morning, me in my world of sights, Koko immersed in her world of smells. Until we reached the mock orange hedge that stands in front of my house, and I succumbed as well to the pleasures of her existence, plucking a bunch of fragrant white blossoms and literally taking breakfast out of the mouth of a bee.

Glancing at my neighbor’s newspaper, I saw The Garden Island covered yesterday’s situation with the bones at Naue, which I blogged about yesterday afternoon. You might just want to skip to the bottom third of the article, where it has a classic quote from attorney Walton Hong, claiming his client, Joe Brescia, has been delayed in building his home atop a burial ground because of “environmentalists’ ‘stall tactics.’”

The article then lays out the many legal challenges regarding shoreline setbacks that have affected this conservation land, where the likelihood of discovering burials was identified as early as 1991. Walton doesn’t seem to realize his client started these legal challenges by trying to build closer to the shoreline than he was allowed.

Apparently there’s going to be a meeting this morning to address whether Ka`iulani Huff or Brescia rightfully owns the land. If the answer is found to Brescia, I’m wondering if Walton, as Brescia’s attorney, will be the one to do the dirty work of pushing for trespassing charges against those who are attempting to protect the burials, since Brescia, who lives in California, isn’t around to do it himself.

I also wanted to direct you to a piece in the current issue of Hawaii Business, which makes the bold assertion in its headline that “A string of controversies on Kauai is changing the way people do business. The rest of the state might not be far behind.” The article that follows, however, fails to support that claim, other than mentioning how southside developers set up a dust hotline for residents there.

What the article did do is show that Kauai business leaders recognize the widespread unhappiness that many island residents feel about recent development. But these "leaders" remain utterly clueless and/or spineless when it comes to actually slowing this runaway train.

My favorite part was the Baptiste Administration trotting out its meager, day-late-dollar-short measures — proposed ag land moratorium, use it or lose it zoning restrictions — while criticizing the 2000 General Plan that was pushed through by his political mentor, Mayor Maryanne Kusaka, and passed by the Council when he was a member. Yet he never said a peep about how his planning director uses some of the same planners that also serve developer Grove Farm, and other ways in which Kauai's government keeps stoking the development engines.

The article also states:

Early-stage dialogue with communities about development is critical today.

Yes, I’ve been hearing that for years. Problem is, developers tend to identify “communities” as the state and county planners and elected officials who can get their projects approved. And then together, they ice out the citizens, who once again take their frustration to the streets.

Despite the Hawaii Business headline, nothing has changed on Kauai. It's still business as usual.

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