One thing I love about my new house is the skylights in each room, because they bring the outdoors in. As I’m writing this, I can glance up and see sky and trees. The other night, while lying on the bed, talking to my sister on the phone, I turned off all the lights and watched the clouds racing over the moon — wisps that gave it a halo, large black clumps that blotted it out, thin streaks that turned it golden. And this morning, I awoke to glittering stars, the same ones that were out there when Koko and I went walking, encountering both my neighbor Andy and farmer Jerry, who was recognizable in the darkness only by his voice.
I finally got everything moved out of my old house yesterday, and the landlord repaid my security deposit in cash and thanked me for helping him to pay his mortgage. In all the years I’ve rented, he’s the first person to ever express that sort of appreciation, which was reflected in the fair and kind way he treated me throughout.
What a pleasant switch from so many of the other landlords I’ve encountered, who seem to forget that it’s a collaboration and instead maximize the exploitation aspect. Folks might be surprised to learn how various “upstanding citizens,” including one who served on the ethics commission and another who ran for Council, treat their tenants.
Yesterday’s Garden Island article about the $28 million sale of Papaa Bay drew an angry comment about how the new owner — described by the real estate agent as “soulful and caring” — treated the workers.
Contrary to rumors, the new owner is not actor Will Smith, but a cancer doctor. According to one worker at A Rat — Tara spelled backwards, a nickname given the place to reflect feelings about the former owner, Peter Guber — the new owner did require piss tests (easily thwarted through the purchase of clean urine at a local shop that has found a niche market untouched by the big box stores) and gave everyone a pay cut. But now they do have better health benefits and a retirement plan.
I guess even though have you $28 million lying around for a vacation home, it doesn’t mean you can afford to pay your workers a decent wage AND give them good benefits. Still, most anyone would be better than Guber, whose most valuable “improvement” to the property was not the house, stables, tennis courts and guest houses, but the lawsuit that ensured the public riff raff won’t be traipsing through that property on their way to the beach.
Ya gotta wonder if the new owner, who bought the 174-acre parcel “for the serenity of the site,” to quote Realtor Hannah Sirois, who has made a tidy bundle peddling that particular piece of land, will continue Guber's policy of directing his staff to discourage folks from using that beach.
Guber exemplified the worst behavior of the rich Americans who exploit Hawaii. Besides waging a nasty fight against public access, which included civil suits — ala Joe Brescia — against those who opposed him, he also dug out part of a cliff so he could get around the shoreline setback and build close to the ocean. In the process, they “inadvertently” encountered a burial that was stored in the electric utility room until the former caretaker got so sick and tormented that he conducted a proper reinterment of the iwi, and so found health and peace again.
Guber also installed flood lights, sprinklers and vegetation on the beach, which fortunately were ripped out in a giant northeast swell a few years back, although now that crap is floating around in the ocean.
So good riddance to Guber, although too many people just like him remain, as noted in a story in today’s Star-Bulletin on whether oceanfront property owners should own any newly accreted beach that forms in front of their lots.
Why are these private landowners always trying to grab more of what belongs to the public? You can see this all along the coast here, and on Oahu and Maui, too. I’m sure it would be happening on the Big Island if it had more beach to steal. And judging from the comments left on the story, the public really resents both the practice and the people who engage in it.
This issue has been prominent in my mind because I just finished a story on the continued vegetative encroachment of Hawaii’s beaches, which will run in Wedesday’s Honolulu Weekly. Quite remarkably, the state is fully aware that folks are intentionally doing this, but say it’s too hard to bust ‘em, so they need a new law before they can really crack down.
In the meantime, the plantings keep growing and so the beaches keep shrinking, making it awfully challenging to take a walk when the surf is up, as this recent picture of the Wainiha subdivision near Joe Brescia's house shows:
How long do you 'spose it will be before the ocean is lapping at their living rooms and they're begging for a concrete seawall — or sandbags, as is the case further up the coast — to protect them?
Perhpas instead of just picking up trash along the beach, folks need to start yanking the vegetation that's growing makai of the high wash of the waves. That's our property, after all.