What a treat to wake to the sound of rain, to have our walk delayed by rain, to venture out, after a cup of tea, and watch the rain gather over the mountains and drift near, then nearer, to have the end of our walk blessed with light rain.
Somewhere along the way, in the time closer to the venturing out part than the getting rained on part, Koko and I ran into our neighbor Andy, and his dog, Momi. I brought up the issue of Larsen’s Beach, seeing as how The Advertiser, in it’s usual leisurely fashion, had finally covered the many months-old story, and had Bruce Laymon saying:
Laymon said he's always been willing to use his equipment and workers to help improve the county access. However, he said, over the past week some "menehune" volunteers have cleared brush from the county access-way and removed the fence blocking it, making it useable.
I told Andy that those close to the issue said that was total bullshit, and the county trail, whose proper alignment, to my understanding, is still not clearly defined, remains impassable. Andy said he thought Bruce had meant to imply that he was the “menehune.”
“But that would mean he was working in the conservation district without a permit,” I said, which prompted Andy to say that’s why the menehune had done it, because they don’t need permits.
It seems that some of those involved in the issue are also questioning whether the tractor vandalism was staged to generate sympathy for Bruce and his fencing project. That serves as just one more example of how much distrust there is of Bruce — and how far apart folks are on this issue.
Of course, that’s not the only divisive issue on the island. Bills dealing with farm worker housing and transient vacation rentals (TVRs) on ag land are back on tomorrow morning’s Planning Committee agenda.
These bills have been kicking around for a long while, when really, they should just be drop kicked into the dumpster. The worker housing bill is a good idea gone very, very wrong, while the ag land TVR bill is simply a bad idea, period, save for perhaps the one or two bonafide farmers who already have modest TVRs.
I got a call yesterday from a farmer who wanted to know my thoughts on the worker housing bill, which I shared: it arose to give Moloaa landowners housing rights they knew they didn’t have when they bought land for dirt cheap in Mike Strong’s ag subdivision. Indeed, the fact that no housing was allowed is likely the only reason it remains a true ag subdivision, and the bill is ripe for abuse and even the county planning department has said enforcement would be difficult, so why not listen to them?
The farmer said he felt the same way, and could see why Councilman Daryl Kaneshiro backs it, since his son works for Grove Farm and he has some ag land himself where he could build a few “worker housing” units, but he couldn’t understand why former Mayor and Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura was a big backer of the legislation.
I couldn’t shed any light on that myself, other than to say, perhaps it’s for the same reason that she also supports TVRs on ag land.
I mentioned to Andy that one proposal that has been floated would allow ag land owners to keep their TVRs so long as they allow someone to conduct farming operations on the parcel.
While the spirit of that is good, Andy said, what happens if the farm is not profitable? Would the landowner be required to subsidize it? And if the farm was abandoned, would they make the owner tear down the vacation rental?
Well, we know neither of those things are gonna happen.
And then there’s the bigger question of whether the county can properly manage the permitting of ag land TVRs, given the rather bumpy — and decidedly opaque — process they’ve followed in permitting all the TVRs outside the ag district.
Another batch of TVRs — 18, to be exact — is up for approval by the Planning Commission today. I was especially intrigued by one condition:
Any expansion, alteration or increase in intensity of use shall be subject to approval by the planning director.
So what, Ian Costa alone gets to decide if a relatively modest TVR can morph into multi-bedroom mini-resort, with no input from the community?