Friday, July 30, 2010

Musings: Pure Shibai

While at the Council meeting on Wednesday, a friend pointed out the proprietor of Pure Kauai, the outfit that specializes in catering to the ultra rich staying in vacation rentals, most of them on agricultural land.

Earlier, she had sent me a link to the Pilaa Beach House property, which most assuredly is on ag land, and is just one of many the company manages.

There’s also Anini View Estate, billed as a “spectacular property [that] has been transformed from a 3 bedroom, 3 bath casual beach house into a lavish yet comfortable estate” — perhaps through one of those "unsubstantial improvement" scams the county is so fond of perpetuating.

Then there’s the Tunnel’s Getaway, which rents for “$855 nightly rate; $965 summer rate; $1,180 holiday rate,” and the Lake House, which is on North Shore ag land. But there’s no mention of a farm with this dwelling, just a reference to a “large, fenced yard on over an acre.”

Another one of the listings said Secret Beach Home New Home! Remember when the Council passed the last TVR bill and promised, like the Council is now, that there wouldn’t be any new ones?

I was already familiar with Pure Kauai and it’s particular brand of tourism, having read a glowing article about it in Spirit of Aloha a few years back. The article really, really, really pissed me off, in part because the writer joined in promoting this crap so unquestioningly, but mostly because it illustrated how this brand of luxury tourism was packaging Kauai in a way that I found particularly distasteful, a way that had nothing to do with reality and everything to do with exclusivity, privilege and conspicuous consumption.

I think what offended me most was the way the company billed itself as “pure Kauai,” as if this sort of nonsense has anything to do with the essence of this place.

Anyway, I wrote a piece as a sort of rebuttal, and the Council meeting prompted me to dig it out:

It recently came to my attention that if you have at least $3,500 — and no qualms about spending it on a week-long personal pamper-fest — you can stay in a palatial home overlooking “Secrets” beach and have a whole parade of people traipse through, waiting on you hand and foot, leading you in a yoga session, teaching you how to surf, massaging your body, guiding you on a hike, preparing all your food, cleaning up your dirty dishes, taking out your trash, making you feel that it’s your right, your privilege, indeed, your duty to indulge yourself so wholly.

You will remain blissfully unaware that the sandy strand you gaze upon is actually named Kauapea, that part-time residents who own the adjacent homes hired private security to banish nude sunbathers from that very same public beach, that your spacious vacation abode is ten times bigger than the cracker boxes inhabited by local families who live all jammed up because real estate speculation has driven up the price of land and housing.

You will not be troubled by the news that the bay you’re surfing is regularly contaminated with fecal bacteria, the trail you’re led upon is not one designated for commercial use, the house you’re luxuriating in sits on agricultural land, and so is supposed to be a farm dwelling.

You will never be pressed to acknowledge that the fee you’re paying to relieve yourself from the stress of your fast-paced “good life” back home represents 350 hours of toil for the ten dollar an hour wage slaves who rake the leaves, mow the lawns, change the sheets and all but wipe the butts of the oblivious ultra-rich who wash in and wash out, like so much flotsam on the tide.

Instead, you will be encouraged to believe you are experiencing pure kauai, never dreaming that it’s pure shibai.


Wahine Warrior said...

just gives you a standing ovation for this post, as I have been trying to prick the conscience of these people for a long time about just exactly what you wrote.`

And to add further insult to injury, they give these places romantisized Hawaiian names, most of them, when translated translate into absolute gibberish.

Bravo, Joan. Bravo. Encore!!

Anonymous said...

Such unreflective prejudice.

Anonymous said...

"Such unreflective prejudice."

Ya, let's all reflect and try to have a little empathy for these people.

NOT! Duh!

Anonymous said...

"...exclusivity, privilege and conspicuous consumption."

Music to my ears.

Anonymous said...

If rich people are slowly but surely transforming the better parts of Kauai into their version of a Disney theme park, and state/county officials let it happen, then you get what you deserve.

Officials want the money, not the vegetables. They don't give a damn about food sustainability. It's not that important...maybe it isn't.

Money is important.

Kauai is the next Carmel-by-the-Sea.

People pushed out by increasingly unaffordable land or lack of non-service-industry jobs will migrate to other affordable Hawaiian islands...maybe only the Big Island is left in that category. Or go to the mainland.

Things change. The world moves on.

Or maybe we enter or support a war with Iran and/or North Korea and the military presence increases drastically, maybe by Presidential mandate.

Who knows??

Anonymous said...

Did anyone go to the Planning Commission Meeting on 7/27 and were there any discussions of TVRs at that meeting?

Anonymous said...

Ya, let's all reflect and try to have a little empathy for these people.

NOT! Duh!

It's not about having empathy. It's about not engaging in simplistic, two-dimensional, willfully ignorant, judgmental, moralistic, presumptuous, finger wagging and making prejudice-fueled assumptions that you cannot possibly know about other people's knowledge, character, or motivation.

Anonymous said...

Ya, ya, ya, blah blah blah. We know already. Go right on your own blog where somebody just might care what you think.

Anonymous said...

It wins the prize for adjectives, though.

Anonymous said...

The "private security guards" Joan refers to are no such thing. Beach activist Richard Spacer three or four years ago investigated this issue and found that the lone Japanese male pretending to be a security guard, and wearing a badge that said that, also wore at various times over the years handcuffs, mace or pepper spray, walkie-talkie, cell phone with camera, and binoculars. So equipped to battle the hippy masses, Sakae Takenaka would walk up and down Kauapea Beach photographing hippys and naturists, emailing their photos to KPD, and telling them to leave the private beach or he would call the police. Many of the naturists are as well-heeled as the rich staying in the vacation rentals above. Doctors, legislators, attorneys, CPA's from the mainland and Europe come to Kauapea Beach as it is well-known as a naturist beach. One of the rich landowners who has a vacation rental on ag land, Michele Hughes, hates naturists for reasons unknown, yet she used to sunbathe topless at Kauapea Beach in years past. She formed the Kauapea Homeowner's Association which hires Takenaka ostensibly as a maintnenace man for 10 dollars an hour. Spacer obtained his contract under state sunshine law when he filed a complaint against Takenaka for patrolling a public beach. Security guards have no authority on public property in HI. When Regulated Industries was contacted, it was discovered Takenaka never was a security officer, but is a maintenance man. The lie was broadcast on naturist websites and blogs worldwide. It was also mentioned that another lie propogated my Michele Hughes and her loyal maintenance man Takenaka, is that simple nudity on non-state park beaches in illegal in Hawaii. That is false. DLNR has a special admin. rule against nudity on STATE PARK beaches, which Kauapea is not. On unemcumbered and county park beaches there is nothing to prohibit nudity if the sunbather is not intending to affront or alarm. A 2000 state supreme court case confirmed this. Yet Michele Hughes office cranks out ridiculous colored signs in ziplock bags made to look like they are from KPD forbidding nudity, (citing the same section of law the supreme court ruled on in 2000), and camping, and each day Takenaka's big boy moment is to make sure the sign is still tacked up on the tree by the trail to the beach. But Takenaka is no longer relevant, as he had a heart attack and cannot walk the beach anymore. Combined with Spacer's complaints to the state, the result is Takenaka most days sits on First Beach by his jeep and rakes and burns false kaimani leaves.

Dawson said...

Excellent post, Joan. Words that need no music to stand as an anthem for the abolition of this repulsively consumptive form of tourism.

Anonymous said...

nice you have opinions.

Anonymous said...

Go Joan go! You are absolutely right on! These properties were zoned agricultural and are supposed to provide food and jobs for the island, not as homes for the ultra rich. Keep up your vigilance! Thank you!

Anonymous said...

mostly because it illustrated how this brand of luxury tourism was packaging Kauai in a way that I found particularly distasteful, a way that had nothing to do with reality and everything to do with exclusivity, privilege and conspicuous consumption.

You mean a way that is real but which you disapprove of. Nothing unreal about exclusivity, privilege and conspicuous consumption. Not to mention that those terms themselves aren't describing anything real either. They are just a distorted parody.

Anonymous said...

The post about the Takenaka guy at Secret Beach reminded me that quite a while before him Bruce Laymon terrorized hippie, gay and nudist beachgoers on Secret Beach while riding an ATV, which is illegal to drive on the beach ($500. fine). Laymon is in the news now harassing beachgoers at Larsen's Beach. He said he was going to "run" all the haoles off Larsen's Beach. I read somewhere Laymon did landscaping for Hughes. What is this obsession both Laymon and Hughes have with running people off public beaches?! What is the CONNECTION between Hughes and Laymon? Are these right wing fanatics all in the same church or what? "Birds of a feather flock together". What birds are these??????

Anonymous said...

Humiliating Dickie and his friends probably worked against the opponent of this bill. Generally I agree with Joan, but not here. The world has rich and poor. It has always been that way. It is such wasted energy for the poor to spend their time hating on the rich, darkening their own minds with the hatred of how indulgent those bad people are - blogging away the disapproval. To what end? These houses are already built.

Now they will need to add farms in order to keep renting them. More farms on Kauai, while nothing else changes. That result, to me, is kindof good - and farm creating, in the long run, is more important than keeping tourists from sleeping in these homes that are already built.

Anonymous said...

I prefer an island full of lunch wagons instead of restaurants and vendors under tents instead of stores. F those rich people and their luxuries. Not here. I want this to be a place where only poor people live and visit. Boycott Macys. Kill the TVRs. Lets make this place more like Calcutta.

Anonymous said...

Oh my!!!

Then, we'll be "up the Ganges without an air freshener".

Then the Kauai workforce can be divided into white cholera and blue cholera.

Damn....Cathy Lee will want to open a garment factory here...

Anonymous said...

Please sign this petition and pass it on to everyone you know:

Anonymous said...

"Lets make this place more like Calcutta.'
Would that be the Calcutta where they butcher maim children to beg in the streets?
Where untreated sewage contaminates the water?
But, the well off who are nice enough.
Your eco-facism ideas are too much.

Joan Conrow said...

Now they will need to add farms in order to keep renting them. More farms on Kauai, while nothing else changes.

That's a nice thought, Anon., one I've heard you express many times before, and while I love your idealism, let's get real. How many of these people now will bother to put in farms when they can just have their attorneys convince the PC that they can't farm for any reason at all?

Yes, the houses are already built, but why should we give them a 40% increase in their property value with an approved TVR use?

Btw, I don't hate the rich, although I do disapprove of their wasteful, self-indulgent ways. The rich can't live like that w/o using more than their fair share of the world's resources and creating more than their fair share of waste.

As for another post that said The "private security guards" Joan refers to are no such thing, prior to Sakae Takenaka, some of the landowners above Kauapea Beach, Michele Hughes among them, did indeed hire Freeman Guards to patrol the beach. I saw them with my very own eyes.

art said...

To the "I prefer" anomally

Please, Be My Guest!

Carmel is Carmel.
Calcurra is Calcutta.

The spiritually Rich and the monetarily poor cordialy invite you to experience the x-ray machine at the airport and with our slippers firmly planted up your ass, Get the hell outta here.

The last thing we need around here is a pile of old used tea bag sponges.

It really surprises me that these ignoralls would even read this blog. Seems like fox, breitbart, drudge, and dink dumbaugh would be more their speed.


Keep up the good work Joan, maybe we can make this blog into a positive exchange of positive ideas instead of all these negetory all for me's.

On a positive, forward looking note. we could make it financially impossible for the mini-me's to live here.

Anonymous said...

Why didn't anyone have the presence of mind to file a lawsuit against Freeman Guards as well as criminal complaints to DLNR and KPD?! You can't have guards on beaches, everyone knows that. That's a no brainer. Probably someone eventually did file a complaint and that's why they stopped!

Anonymous said...

Why didn't anyone have the presence of mind to file a lawsuit against Freeman Guards as well as criminal complaints to DLNR and KPD?! You can't have guards on beaches, everyone knows that.

Sounds like all he ever did was threaten to call the cops on people. There's no law against that. Anybody who wants to can stand around the beach in a guard uniform and tell naked people or pot smokers that he's going to call the cops if they don't leave.

Anonymous said...

Oops. The petition contains a lie:

"The Attorney General of the State of Hawaii has opined that the County of Kauai does not have the authority to allow vacation rentals on agriculture lands."

That's Mel's little fib he likes to tell when people let him get away with it.

Wahine Warrior said...

well if you dont like Mels petition, here is another one. And I believe Kipukai has one going as well.

Kooko said...

Joan, today's blog entry is a great illustration of the valuable service your blog provides. I do not always agree with you, but thank you for the efforts.

Anonymous said...

Might as well throw in some corrections here as it is a favorite city of mine.
That would be Kolkata, west bengal on the Howrah River.

Anonymous said...

"I believe Kipukai"

-that guy, what? aweue.

Anonymous said...

nice you have opinions.

July 30, 2010 1:24 PM

-too bad not too many facts, yeah.

Anonymous said...

In the paper Michele Hughes states "I live on this island because of aloha, and I think it's the spirit that should be guiding all of us here,"...The bill would help hundreds of people TVR owners employ, said Hughes.

So why on page W6 of the WSJ Friday 6/30 is it announced "Real-estate investor Michele Hughes will auction off a seven-acre oceanfront estate on Kauai's Anini Beach next month. Also available is her 40-acre unlisted beachfront property in Kauai's Kilauea for $40 million. Aloha?!

Anonymous said...

Learn more about Michelle Hughes at

Anonymous said...

I agree Pure Kauai is pure shibai, but Joan, you don't hide your envy too well.

Will say it again, property tax evasion is the way to take this all down.

It's a house of cards just ready to fall.

Anonymous said...

Re: Anon 11:30PM

If you go back to her history in Aspen, made a lot of enemies there too and got run outta town, washed ashore here.

Anonymous said...

"The 50 acres of land owned by Michele and Justin Hughes is zoned agricultural but most of it is unsuitable for farming because of its location on the rocky bluff above Secret Beach and Anini Beach. Despite the adversarial conditions, they have made, at considerable expense, a concerted effort to irrigate, add steps and trails for access, and plant the hillsides and whatever small flat areas available.

While not large, their orchard and organic garden produce fruit and vegetables which they sell to local vendors or donate to the island's needy.

Their newest venture is Pualani Gardens, LLC which has 30,000 potted plants and numerous field stock plants which they intend to sell to local residents or other nurseries."

Anonymous said...

"3.Enforcement Case KA-08-06 Regarding Alleged Unauthorized Landscaping (Trail
Construction) by Justin and Michele Hughes, a.k.a. Secret Beach Properties, at
Kauapea, Hanalei District, Kauai, TMK (4) 5-2-005:036 6"

anyone know the outcome?

Anonymous said...

"All have been designed by owner Michele Hughes, whose goal is to create a completely sustainable property and a more sustainable Kauai. Her recipe? Promoting agriculture on Kauai and less dependence on the mainland; use of a pesticide-free garden on property; and adding the new Pualani Gardens with 30,000 varieties of plants for visitors to see and savor."

WOW! Sustainability by using non-chemical pesticides? Amazing concept!

Wahine Warrior said...


If you have soil that you believe you can't farm, then ammend it.

If you still can't farm it build a hydroponic system. Hydroponics can produce pounds and pounds of edible foods. IT requires absolutely no soil, and can grow food anywhere, even in outer space, as has been proven by expiraments aboard the International Space Station.


Now, I do not doubt the efforts of the mansion owners to provide some gardens and potted plants. What gets my goat parden the pun, is that here are people who have all of the money and resources to do intensive agriculture right. Really get the land producing. But they do not take advantage of that opportunity. They build a palatial mansion and charge 50 thousand dollars a week for guests to live there.

When we need to bring food prices down here for the average working families, and support local produce, and bring down the price of land, these operations are doing exactly the opposite.

Thats not jealousy. That is just shock and awe. Shock that they don't attempt to farm, and awe that they have been allowed to get away with it for so long.

Now, extremely wealthy people are philanthropic. They do give to charities, and what not. But they can afford to be generous. Even the poorest of the poor here give to charities and support them. Kaua'i people from all walks of life are generous with what little they have and everyone gives food from there land to others for free.They can also afford to farm too. And if they can't figure out how to farm they have the means to bring in people who do have the know how.

This is why so many people are agianst all of this. Its not about jealousy. Its about common sense, sustainability and frustration that the people who actually can farm, can't get the land or the money to do so properly while others who have the advantage of being able to get the land and do it right are not farming.

SO enough with the whole "jealousy" comment stuff.

art said...

What beautifuly crafted marketing lies. Makes me want to run out and spend a kazillion dollars there


If we're going to aim for sustaiability, we really don't need fru-fru plant growers in the farmer category. The only thing on her plant list pdf that was edible, is beetlenut, that's of questionable nutritional value.

If they can grow fru-frus, they can grow edibls!

Anonymous said...

What if we're not aiming at sustainability but monetary gain?

The word "we're" in the preceding sentence refers to the state/county decision-makers only.

Anonymous said...

Do you think anybody pays attention to these internet polls?

Just go to the website, set up your poll question and advertise the link.

Do you really think that will make a difference?

If I were an elected official, I'd laugh it off.

jackbauer said...

Most of you , as usual, donʻt get it: the TVRs are ILLEGAL on Agriculturally zoned land.

It has nothing to do with how much money someone has except when their money is used to coerce mediocre little people such as we have in government.

Anonymous said...

"The word "we're" in the preceding sentence refers to the state/county decision-makers only."
And the majority of voters that elect them. That makes the opponents a minority of a minority that can't get policy because they have no support.

Anonymous said...

"When we need to bring food prices down here for the average working families..."
you do that by reducing the size of the family by number and weight and the amount of food they consume.

Anonymous said...

"Most of you , as usual, donʻt get it: the TVRs are ILLEGAL on Agriculturally zoned land.

It has nothing to do with how much money someone has except when their money is used to coerce mediocre little people such as we have in government.".....

.....until such coercion results in grandfathering existing ones, making them legal, and passing new laws to make new ones legal.

Problem solved.

If what the rich want is illegal, the most expeditious solution is to change the law.

Or, incompetently permit it or allow it to continue for so long that inevitable losing lawsuits would result in trying to then enforce the law.

Any of this will work. All of this has worked in the past.

Anonymous said...

Didnt Joan oppose the farm housing bill too? Tough week!

Kooko said...

They failed. TVRs on Ag land were supposed to be not allowed. Now, ... not good... one more chip away...

Anonymous said...

Well......when all hope is lost, the poor and oppressed, when desperate enough.... will choose violence for relief.

Fueled on meth....angry young local youths torch the mansions with Molotov cocktails.

You think this is too far out?

Think again rich people. Read your history books. You might get enlightened!

Anonymous said...


-Incorrect, slope and topography would be valid constraints.

Unknown said...

July 31, 2010 2:30 AM said:
"Will say it again, property tax evasion is the way to take this all down."

I'm curious to hear more about this. What tax is being dodged?

Anonymous said...

"Fueled on meth....angry young local youths torch the mansions with Molotov cocktails."

Rejecting the examples set by there elders the local youths ban together to educate themselves bringing new ideas and help to their friends and rels.

Wahine Warrior said...

Incorrect, slope and topography would be valid constraints.

July 31, 2010 8:36 PM

In that case, then most of Kauai would be inhospitable for farming. However, since you are no longer on the mainland, with nice flat farmlands, but on a tropical volcanic island, which is almost perfectly coneshape, and whose surface is almost entirely composed of graded slope and topography your argument is soundly scientificly invalid.

A little education is in order. The graded plateu system has been used for countless centuries all over the world, in areas such as this. That is why ruce farming, and taro terraces predominate. Further, planting in ditches, and on slopes is extremely common, and provides high yields of all sorts of crops.

You might want to educate yourself more on topograpgy, grade, geography, soils, and sub tropical and tropical farming before entering an opinion that we all know is a straw man argument.

THis excuse will never fly. There is no excuse for not being able to produce out of the land on Kauai, one of the most fertile places on earth.


Wahine Warrior said...

ok before everyone jumps on me for my typos:

ruce=rice, and topography....not whatever the heck it was I wrote there.

Also, this=not THis.

OK, now go ahead...try to rip that argument to shreds. Not likely. Bring it on.

Because that is the single little thread a lot of people are going to hang their hat on. And I promise won't fly. Thinking you are going to get you approval, becasue on a semi tropical come shaped island, you might have a grade or slope on your land.


But keep trying. Its amusing at best.

And I need a good laugh.

Wahine Warrior said...

cone =come.


I need more coffee

But you get the point.


Anonymous said...

I have come to the realization that Kauai is on it's way to doom. The government, media, attorneys, developers, etc. don't give a sh*t about her. Kauai is being exploited with the help of the government, who was entrusted to protect her. This is sad. We did out best. We lost. Corruption wins again. F*ck it!

Anonymous said...

It's not just Kauai. Third world countries (and poor communities in America) that produce much of what we buy or whose resources are extracted for production are being exploited in ways that make what's happening on Kauai seem benign.

Wahine Warrior said...

I never give up.

One person CAN make a difference.

They WANT you to get frustrated and quit.

Not me. Just makes me try that much harder.

Anonymous said...

Like the stone of Sisyphus.

Anonymous said...

You mean "like Sisyphus". The stone would represent her fight against TVRs, and even that is a poor analogy. But we get what you're trying to say, however inept your effort.

Anonymous said...

I can't tell if she's Sisyphus or the stone based on her pic and all that damn pumpkin crunch she eats.

Either way, she and her cause is doomed.

Anonymous said...

"She and her cause are doomed". If you're the opposition, she and her cause are in great shape.

Anonymous said...

You guys have Michele Hughes and we have Wahine Warrior. Michele is nuts and Wahine Warrior is nutty!

I'll take Wahine Warrior any day!

And by the way, we're not doomed. We've just begin to fight!

Anonymous said...

seriously, regardless of which side you are on, you all sound like a bunch of angry people. i suggest everyone take a deep breath and chill out -- enjoy the beauty that we are so fortunate to live in each day and find the love in your heart rather than jumping down each other's throats. remember that good always prevails.....

Anonymous said...

"You guys have Michele Hughes and we have Wahine Warrior."

oh good you've sucessfully turned this into an 'us' versus 'them' mentality.

Anonymous said...

good always prevails.....

No it doesn't! What the hell delusions do you hold?

Nothing "always" prevails, but power and money "usually" prevail.

I go with the odds.

And who says they aren't "the good"?

Anonymous said...

"THis excuse will never fly. There is no excuse for not being able to produce out of the land on Kauai, one of the most fertile places on earth."
Especially if collect half of the night soil being deposited on this site

Anonymous said...

Here's one I thought you might like, Joan.

Anonymous said...

I also thought this was interesting. It is my understanding (not fact) that Mr. Lay is the grandson of the founder of Frito-Lay. I doubt he's hiding in the woods above Anini worrying about getting caught.

Anonymous said...

Are you kidding???

It's always been about "us versus them" on every issue.

There is no "we're all in this together" least not until a nuke war blows up everything except the Hawaiian Islands.

Then, there would still be "us" and "them". Probabaly if there were only 2 people left, it would sooner or later become "you" vs "me".

Anonymous said...

Yes, it is an "us versus them."

Them, being people who are rewarded for being liars (had illegal tvrs on ag land, hiding under the radar), and us, those locals (rich or poor) who choose to follow the law.

We don't care if you have money!
Please just respect the island and don't be so smug with your better than thou mentality.

If you were in our situation, you'd try to keep the dialogue going too. And since our planning department and council have sold out, this blog is a good way of expressing how we actually feel.

Yes, I know some of you want us to just shut up and enjoy the view! But if you don't like what we say, don't read it. Or if you insist on changing the subject, you can always keep trying. Good Luck!

Wahine Warrior said...

LOL. I feel the love.

And the horror.

And the fun comments.

I do not know who Sisyphs is, but she must be one kick ass wahine.

I have a spine of steel, and I love the comments. Bring them on.

"Just makes me work that much harder.

Thanks for makng me..finer.
Makes me that much smarter
Makes my skin that much thicker

You won't stop me"!

*if you guys don't have teenagers, you don't know that is Christina Aquilera. Awesome video.

check it out here:

The video is called "Fighter". I watch it before every council or planning commission meeting that I will be attending. Really gets the old blood flowing. Everyone should check this video out, for inspiration to carry on.

Thanks to Joan, and everyone else posting here who has a sense of striving forward for the good of the people.

I have just begun.