Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Musings: Land Grab

It's a cool morning, with gray clouds drifting in and delivering a few half-hearted showers, but I can still recall the stunning sight of a sliver of gold holding up the whole of the moon in last night's dusky sky, just an arm's length from the glowing jewel of Venus.

Kalepa is the agricultural jewel of Kauai's windward side, the one significant swath of farm land that's in the hands of the state, rather than the big boys. But various non-farm proposals are slowly chipping away at the 6,200 acres there, including plans to use some of it for the new county landfill. Green Energy has a lease that locks up 1,037 acres until 2033, supposedly to someday grow eucalyptus — as opposed to its original plan to cultivate highly invasive albezia — that can be burned to provide KIUC with biomass fuel.

Pacific West Energy Kauai, the company that couldn't get a bagasse-to-energy project off the ground with Gay & Robinson, is also trying to grab a sizable chunk. And now Hawaii Bioenergy — comprising Kamehameha Schools, Grove Farm Company and Maui Land & Pineapple Company, three of the largest private landowners in Hawaii — wants to lease 1,000 acres for a biofuels project.

Why, pray tell, must they grab state land when they already own tens of thousands of acres on this island? Because they want to save their own land for stuff that brings in a lot more dough, like residential and commercial development and leasing to seed companies? Or perhaps they just want to knock out any competition so that farmers must lease from them.

When you consider only about 4,000 acres at Kalepa is flat enough to cultivate, it doesn't take a math genius to figure out that once the biofuel companies get done dividing up the pie, only a crescent moon-thin sliver will be left for the small farmers who want to grow food. But you'd rather flip a switch and have lights than eat, right? Assuming, of course, these pipe dreams pan out in our lifetimes.

Since we're talking about pipe dreams, I keep hearing North Shore Path promoters claim it will “protect access.” And I can't help but think, gee, why not focus first on restoring all the truly valuable accesses that have already been “lost,” either because adjacent landowners intentionally planted vegetation and built walls, or the county failed to accept and record easements? Seems we could get a lot more bang for our $4.4 million-per-mile buck that way.

Continuing on the topic of protecting, I recently wrote an article about the Hanalei Roads Committee, which has been working for a whopping 37 years to preserve the historic one-lane bridges up there. Their success offers proof that community activism can be effective, so long as you're not in any hurry. Kudos to all of them for sticking with it. That place would be messed up way worse if the narrow roads and bridges hadn't worked to slow everything and everyone down.

Speaking of messed up, POHAKU is back on the County Council agenda today. Vice Chair JoAnn Yukimura wants her colleagues to approve her request to ask the Board of Ethics to investigate whether Prosecutor Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho and her office violated the Code of Ethics to create and operate POHAKU and “related matters.”

Of course, JoAnn could just ask the Board herself, but by putting it on the agenda, she gets a chance to keep this issue before the public.

She specifically references the use of a County address as the address of a private business; . the use of a County position, program, and website to direct payment to a private company (Strategic Justice Partners); and the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs' registration for Strategic Justice, which lists First Deputy Prosecutor Jake Delaplane as its agent. 

It's also on the agenda for an executive session, so it's not clear exactly what we'll hear in the open meeting, aside from the sound of a big broom trying to sweep all this under the rug.


Anonymous said...

Keep the light shining on Kalepa. There are too many under the table deals like this that transfer land to the very few who are already rich.

In regard to POHAKU, let's not burden the county with more litigation. Mistakes seem to have been made; there should be other ways to rectify the situation while minimizing the cost to county taxpayers.

Anonymous said...

What I want to know is how much are they paying in lease fees?

Anonymous said...

Sucks that county taxpayers have to bear the burden of Shay's lawyer just so she can explain her "mistakes".

Anonymous said...

Joan sometimes I believe you must be naive. Access that has been lost, can be regained how through HRS or County Code?

Protect it first then if you have a trillion dollars, pay for the one you 'feel' you have lost.

How much is Sheeshan asking for his parcel? How much was paid for the expansion of black pot beach park? How much are they asking for that vacant lot next to Poipu park?

Get real, use the path to your advantage, it will preserve access you will one day be thankful.

Joan Conrow said...

Some accesses have been "lost" simply because people haven't asserted their right to use them, and that could be done. Some easements already exist, but the legal paperwork needs to be completed to record them. Other "lost" accesses could be obtained through eminent domain, as the county is considering right now to get a section for the Path in Waipouli.

So it's not naive to think we could regain some of the accesses that have been closed.

I'm sure if Ben, Tommy and the Path folks could figure out a way to make money off regaining our accesses, they'd be working on it. Instead, they're pretending like the Path is our salvation and I'm calling bullshit on that one, especially on the North Shore, where in so many places it would parallel existing roads.

Anonymous said...

Access can be regained by simply enforcing the laws on the books. It is really that simple. Or take a cane knife to these illegal plantings and physically remove them yourself! What are they going to do, arrest you for taking back what belongs to the public? It was done in Poipu, it can be done on the North Shore.

Don't pretend this concrete path is NOT to benefit the tourist dollar! Preserve access? Why do we need access through lo'i? Who is really pushing this path and why? Let's have full public disclosure!

Anonymous said...

Remember Papaa beach access, Kaupea/Secret beach access, Kealia Kai access.....

The cops will come and take you away for trespassing as they did when we tried to get back our access to Papa'a bay.

No one on the county council cares about public access or they would have done this years ago.

4 million a mile for a bike path today, will escalate to 10 million tomorrow. Money goes to those who live off projects like

Dr Shibai

Anonymous said...

Sorry Joan but bullshit - what research have you done on prervation of public access? Research it and get back to us.

Anonymous said...

Money goes to those who live off projects like this....
like Tommy Noyes

Anonymous said...

"Sorry Joan but bullshit - what research have you done on prervation of public access? Research it and get back to us."

You mean the County's abysmal failure to enforce requirements imposed on developments to provide access? Here's a hint: look at every zoning or subdivision approval along the coastline. Then match up the requirements with what is actually there.

Anonymous said...

Then make formal demands (write a letter) that they enforce required conditions citing clearly the (insert #) permit number and send it DIRECTLY to the responsible party - that is, send it to the Planning Commission, the Chair.

They are obligated to put on the agenda and to be heard by the public, be sure to mail it certified and send a copy to any of your favorite news outlet(s).


Anonymous said...

When are you going to realize that money talks and bullshit walks. You're innocent until proven broke.

You will never, never win the war against monied interests. You may win a skirmish here and there, but not the war.

Only 2 questions left: how far is the fall (of your interests) and how long will it take.

Money always, always wins in the end.

Anonymous said...

What is Kusaka gonna do with her bribery plot of land? Come on Kusaka we already know, was it all worth it? Was all the money, land, gifts, and other perks worth the 8 lives that was lost. Do you have a conscious? You don't wanna mess with Karma

Anonymous said...

"Was all the money, land, gifts, and other perks worth the 8 lives that was lost."

Well, yes, actually.

Anonymous said...

I like the latest comments by the CA when their clients are not following the law - so what - sue us.

It certainly isn't coming out of his pocket - so what if we the county doesn't follow the law, just take the time, spend the money, beat them, because they didn't even follow their own laws and we will pay you TAXPAYER dollars.

Just because we can't do our jobs right, who cares, so sue us.

Anonymous said...

Criminals are IN THE HOUSE.

Anonymous said...

I loved it when Kusaka was confronted by the reporter on 20 20 and she put the paper up to cover her face. Classic perp move. She has no conscience but the ghosts haunt her dreams. And get rid of that hideous hairdo.

Anonymous said...

Leave that plastic surgerons dreamboat alone. She loves her hair who are you to tell her it is bad?

Anonymous said...

Plastic surgery? Pulled too tight. Her hair reminds me of Madeline Kahn in Young Frankenstein.