Monday, March 12, 2012

Musings: Throwing in the Towel

A few tiny patches of blue can be seen among a canopy that is mostly gray, but I wouldn't go so far as to believe that sunshine is really in the forecast, though it's certainly what we need.

What we don't need are another 400 visitor units and gentleman's estates on the North Shore, but that's exactly what developer Jeff Stone wants to give us at Princeville.

But hey, what's another few thousand tourists driving to the end of the road, laying their bamboo mats on the sands of Hanalei Bay, choking out Anini and Kalihiwai, when you've already got 10,000 to 15,000 fricking vacationers milling around in Pleasantville and spilling out into the surrounding environs on any given day?

Just focus on the “really fabulous” — to use Stone's words — future construction and economic impacts. That way you can pretend there won't be all those other impacts.

Of course, it will provide jobs, though most could end up going to off-islanders, just like the $5 billion Oahu rail project and construction of the Princeville Westin.

What I'm wondering is how much of Princeville's planned Phase II is in the vacation rental-friendly Visitor Destination Area, which the County helpfully expanded into the Western Plateau. That was back in the day when Ron Kouchi, Maxine Correa, Jimmy Tejada, Joe Munechika, Jesse Fukusima and Randal Valenciano served on the Council — remember that stellar line up?— and JoAnn Yukimura was mayor. If you can read this map and figure it out, please fill us in.

As for the future of Princeville, well, here's a look-see at what's coming down the pike. Stone essentially plans to fill in the land between Anini Vistas and the shopping center, while Montage Hotels and Resorts, whose investors include eBay tycoon and Civil Beat founder Pierre Omidyar, will so thoughtfully give us an ultra-luxury resort near the St. Regis.

I wonder, how does an ultra-luxury resort on the North Shore and Montage's ownership of the pesticide-drenched Prince golf course fit in with Omidyar's philanthropic Ulupono Initiative and its supposed mission for “positive, sustainable change” in the Islands? Other than as a total antithesis, of course. As the Ulupono website states, among other platitudes that will make you want to keep the barf bag handy:

Pierre and Pam are guided by the belief that people are basically good and that every person has the power to make a difference.

So then why do they want to fuck up Kauai's North Shore even more than it already is? Don't they already have enough money? Why must they exploit the `aina to make more? Can't they see that their actions are running counter to their supposed beliefs?

The floods of the past few weeks have given us a clear message: the North Shore is vulnerable, it's fragile, it's maxed out. It doesn't need any more tourists, vacation rentals, mansions, gentleman's farms, shopping centers or uberswank resorts.

What it does need is some respect and a lot of TLC.

But that message is apparently lost on the money-grubbing Jeff Stones and Pierre Omidyars of the world. Who gives a shit about the land, the water and the local people when there are many millions still to be skimmed off Kauai.

It's times like this that I feel like throwing in the towel and tending orphaned sloths in Costa Rica.


Anonymous said...

All of this really wants to make me puke. Did you see that SB2341 & SB2350 (related to TVR's on Ag land) have already passed the Senate (gee, thanks for betraying us again, Mr. Kouchi.)

Soon, the North Shore will be choked. Ke'e Beach is already choked with cars. Imagine even more.

All of these developers just want to cash in on working people's backs.

Anonymous said...

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My cousin sells is a realtor in Costa Rica so he could hook you up with digs.

Bon Voyage!

Anonymous said...

"My cousin sells is a realtor in Costa Rica"

another exploiter

Anonymous said...

The corruption in Costa Rica at every level of society makes the Garden Isle look like a utopian paradise. Kauai is not perfect but it is way better than most. Just glad I dont live in Princeville! Yikes

Anonymous said...

I hope you appreciate my honesty…

As someone who owns a second home/condo in Princeville, (and as hypocritical as this may sound), I agree with you. There is no need or space for another 400 homes in Princeville, especially another mega-resort close to St. Regis.

It would significantly change the face of the North Shore of the Garden Island.

I am aware of animosity towards me as a mainlander who owns a second home in Princeville, but I think I speak for most haoles when I say that we mean/meant no harm.

I have since I was a little boy wanted to retire and own a home in Hawaii. Although I am far from rich, I had the opportunity to do so, so I took it.

After becoming obsessed with the island, I have read, but never personally experienced the tension between mainlanders and native Kauaiians. I feel the tension on this blog. However, it does not stop me from how I feel about the island.

I have, and have always had, a great deal of love for everything Hawaiian. I am not trying to rape the land; I am just trying to be at one with Kauai. I am just preparing for my golden years.

Unfortunately, as with many other islands across the world, the super wealthy are taking over. The islands all over the world, generally do not lead the world in industry, education, technology, finances, etc. Therefore, all they have to offer is tourism (modest by comparison to other industries), which brings the super wealthy and their money to the island. Kauai cannot compete with the super rich.

It is only going to get worse. Home values are only going to get higher and Hawaiians will not be able to afford it, unless they go to the mainland "to get similar educations and make the same money" to come back and compete.

This group (mentioned in the article) bought the land years ago with this exact plan in mind. They did not buy the land to let it sit and just be green. They bought it to make more green...and they will because of Haoles similar to me who have a dream and mean no harm.


Anonymous said...

Those developers, including the Montage, all met with planning officials, these numbers were INCLUDED in the TAU counts.

Don't worry they don't count toward the total number, they were already counted.

Anonymous said...

I really respect Jeremy's candid post.

I am not a big government guy. But land management and zoning is one area that government can work. Unless caps are put on density, this is just going to happen until the resources run dry. Why do you think there are no homes on Kalalau? Because development is forbidden by law.

Dont hate the developer, hate the zoning department that approved absurd density in such an unsuitable area.

Anonymous said...

Don't let the developer off so easy. Who do you think spends $ and time lobbying govt and planners for that zoning? THE DEVELOPER! Who is doing the dirty deed? THE DEVELOPER!

Anonymous said...

I tell people wanting to visit Kaua'i to get used to seeing a lot of green. Now I know the only green worth anything is MONEY! Who woulda thunk it?

Anonymous said...

There are no homes in Kalalau because it's a State park. If it was privately owned there would be a four lane road leading to a 2500 unit subdivision filled with transplants bitching about how nice it was when they first moved here.

Anonymous said...

This is America and property owners have the right to an economically viable use of their property. What is economically viable to a business entity with access to $$$ and the rest of us is debated daily in courts throughout the good ol' USA.

Anonymous said...

Can't imagine their newly redone golf course didn't just get trashed in the rain, anyone seen it?

Anonymous said...

If you really cared, you can look up the cases, long story short -

if you cannot build a HOUSE on your property YOU HAVE NOT lost all viable economic use of your property.

Cracking look it up!

Anonymous said...

I'm going to call BS on this one.

Waterhouse Trust manages Kipu Kai (notably filmed in that Oscar movie, Descendants) does not have a freeway over Haupu. Mountain range.

Anonymous said...

Permitting payment department.

Anonymous said...

2000 Comprehensive Plan.

Do you understand?

There was NO 5, 10, or even 20 year updates. Never.

how much money has been allotted or spent on community development plans. With two produced in the last 20 years, I say you get what you deserve.

Oh and if they are not referenced or reviewed by the permitting department, they don't count.


Anonymous said...

Can't recognize tit for tat hyperbole, eh?

Anonymous said...

The sloth video is adorable and heart warming. Thank you for sharing.

Unknown said...

I've met many mainlanders that tell me they've visited Kauai. Every one of them shares their stories with a sublime smile. Seems to me that a Kauai resort can "make a difference".