Out in the night, a ghost moon on the cusp of full glowed through a blanket of clouds that by morning had subsided enough to let some gold slip through around the edges. The sun was already up, a red disc on the horizon, when Koko and I set out walking and it shone spottily, creating patches of soft light on green mountainsides streaked with waterfalls.
The sky was dotted with puffs of pink and orange, but before long the sun lost its way and the world turned gray. However, things brightened up considerably when I encountered Farmer Jerry, whom I hadn’t seen in weeks because he’d been sidelined with an injury.
“Well, today’s the big showdown for the farm worker housing bill,” Jerry said, noting that Councilman Darryl Kaneshiro, a rancher, recused himself from the last vote, and will do so again today, at the direction of Council Chair Kaipo Asing.
It seems the pro-development Land Use Research Foundation has come out against the bill, which is a point in its favor. That’s their usual tactic: come in late and apply heavy pressure, which is how they got the Legislature to allow landowners to develop 15 percent of the acreage they designate as Important Ag Lands.
So it’ll be interesting to see if any radical amendments are offered — and adopted — at LURF’s behest.
Ironically, the bill – heavily touted as helping ag – could actually end up harming some small farmers in Moloaa, where workers are currently living in tents, buses, cargo containers and other substandard housing. If the bill passes, they’ll have to clean up their act, but some of them don’t have the money to build worker housing. So what will become of them?
Anyway, Jerry said he thinks the bill has been tightened up enough to withstand abuse by gentleman farmers. Besides, applicants will have to go before the Planning Commission for approval.
And we know they’re always on it. Yesterday, they granted Pierce Brosnan permission to vacation rental his oceanfront Wainiha house, with its landscaping that extends well onto the public beach, even though he's been living in it, so it wasn’t a pre-existing use of that property. Not that Pierce actually showed up for the meeting, of course. That’s what lawyers are for.
The approval prompted one observer to remark: “Even the rich guys have to commercialize the beach. Is it never enough?”
Apparently not, if there’s more money to be made. And indeed, it primarily IS the rich guys commercializing the beach. When the small guys try to do it, like a kanaka offering a surf school without a permit or something, they get dinged. As I noted in a January 2009 blog entry:
I also ran into attorney Dan Hempey, who had just gotten charges dismissed against Titus Kinimaka, who had been cited for running a surf school without a county license. But as Dan pointed out to the judge, the county ordinance stated that only those without licenses could offer commercial services in county parks. “I’m going to have to take it literally,” Judge Trudy said in dismissing the charges.
I wonder if they've changed that ordinance yet?
Speaking of Kauai judges, and the Wainiha coastline, it seems the state has decided to blow off Circuit Judge Kathleen Watanabe, who last month rejected the state’s certified shoreline for a property there. As I wrote in a piece for The Honolulu Weekly:
Watanabe found the state had improperly relied upon cultivated vegetation and current, rather than historical, wave wash data when setting the shoreline for a North Shore Kauai lot now owned by Craig Dobbin.
The decision stemmed from a long-standing dispute over the Wainiha lot’s certified shoreline, which is used to determine how far a house will be set back from the beach.
“The judge said, in effect, your decision is wrong and you have to go back and do it the right way,” [Kauai attorney Harold] Bronstein said. “She’s also saying, interpret the law correctly.”
But the state went ahead and certified the exact same shoreline that Watanabe (who I hear is on the short list for the Hawaii Supreme Court) had overturned.
So now Harold, who did the case pro bono, will have to go back to court to again challenge the state and by the time it gets resolved, the house could be built.
Do you see why people get so disgusted with the system?