Last night’s Rorschach black cloud beneath a swirling vortex that hid the moon gave way to this morning’s summer solstice sunrise, which was all about gold, as in gold light shining on Makaleha, gold shafts beaming through the trees, gold wisps floating across a blue sky.
It was not about the kind of gold that A&B seeks to mine from Kukuiula, the upscale vacation home community on the southside:
”For those of you who want to become a developer, I want to share my pain with you,” said A&B Properties Executive Vice President Paul Hallin during the start of his speech.
Oh, yes, Paul. Cry us a river all the way to the bank. Of course, he was speaking to a sympathetic crowd at the Chamber of Commerce membership meeting. Meanwhile, one of his VPs, Brent Harrington, had this to say about a project that is described by residents as "the destruction of Koloa" and by its developer as “very sophisticated, cutting-edge,” yet somehow still having the "feel of a small plantation town:"
In addition, it “will create significant employment” and an “economic ecosystem” which will benefit the local community, he said.
I heard the other day that all the words like natural, sustainable, family farm, organic, pristine, green — words that used to mean something — have been co-opted by big business to sell stuff that’s not. And now, apparently, they’ve even bastardized the definition of ecosystem.
Brent’s comments brought to mind a comment I heard this weekend from a mainland transplant. He was wondering why locals like Ian Costa, Roland Sagum, Walton Hong and others are so eager to accommodate developers, vacation rental owners and the gentrification of ag land:
“They’re actually working to limit their own opportunities,” he said. “Don’t they realize that all this development is only going to attract more haoles, until they eventually take over the place?”
Like so many questions posed about the way things are done on Kauai, I really couldn’t come up with an answer that made any sense, except “there’s gold in them thar beaches and hills!”
On a related note, I picked up my health food co-op order the other day from a North Shore ag land parcel that is obviously a working farm. It has fields planted in crops, a tractor, farm workers in the fields, a packing shed used for packing veggies, steady customers who buy its produce. The main house is simple and rustic, as are the two vacation rental units (TVR) that help this real farm stay in business.
Indeed, it is the only farm in that neighborhood, which is zoned ag. But it is not the only place with vacation rentals. And it struck me as patently unfair that this place should be treated the same as ag lots that have been operating TVRs without even a semblance of farm use.
As I drove away, I thought of how bogus the discussion has been about what constitutes a farm. If you send an inspector out to look, it’s quite obvious who is actually using their ag land for agriculture. But if you don’t go look, or more importantly, don’t want to see, then you can pretend a mansion sitting on acres of lawn is actually a farm dwelling.
Some folks think that implementing a county manager system will improve the functioning of government on Kauai. I understand their hopefulness, but do they really imagine the Mayor and Council will bring in someone knowledgeable and experienced, from outside, no less, who will usurp their power and make them all look bad?
In reading The Garden Island’s report on a recent public meeting about that concept, I wasn’t sure which I found more disturbing, the fact that Sonny Gerado actually served as second in command of the county for eight years, or his comment that he "has not seen any mayor have a substandard performance.”
Like I said, if you don’t look, or don’t want to see…..
Getting back to land use, I had a voice mail message this weekend from Jennie Yukimura, JoAnn’s mom. She wanted my address, because she’d written me a letter. I was nervous returning her call, wondering if I’d penned something that offended or upset her.
That kind of tension is one of the casualties associated with being outspoken on a small island. I also felt it when my landlady told me yesterday that she read my blog.
“Oh, really,” I said noncommittally, unsure what her reaction might be.
“Yes, and I thought, how can such a sweet girl say some of these things? And some of the language you use! But you know, what it came down to is I really respect you for speaking up. Because it’s obvious that you really care about Kauai.”
It turns out Jennie’s thoughts were along the same lines, but about someone else.
“I just wanted to thank you for writing that letter to the newspaper defending Caren Diamond,” Jennie told me. “I admire her so much. She does so much. She works so hard, and it’s not for herself, you know. It’s for all of us, because she really cares about the island. If you see her, would you please let her know how much I appreciate what she does?”
“Yes,” I assured her. “I’ll pass that along.”
Because people like Caren are worth their weight in gold.