Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Musings: Murmurings

Chilly temps and more blessed rain ushered in the dawn, and when the golden light appeared, two fat waterfalls could be seen streaking down the face of Makaleha. Now the wind is picking up, sending clouds on the fly and causing the ironwoods to murmur messages that are music to my ears.

Up on the North Shore, the murmur is all about the body found at Lumahai yesterday. Seems it's the same spot where one of the region's very bad boys was tied to a tree and brutally beaten about a month ago. Maybe a coincidence — or maybe not. Lumahai Beach is a notorious ice scene.

Then there's the sad news about that new shopping center being approved in Kilauea. But it's really no surprise. Since the ag lands around town have been turned over to vacation rentals, the guests need someplace to shop. How much ya wanna bet the shops that end up there will be catering to tourists, rather than the residents it's supposedly being built to serve? And as always, there's attorney Lorna Nishimitsu, shilling for the developers and even arguing against construction traffic relief.

And it seems the tanker that spilled its load on Kokee Road was heading up to refuel the helicopters that are trying to extinguish the fire, which is spreading really fast and is suspected to have been started by arsonists. Some Kokee residents were advised this morning to evacuate their homes.

Meanwhile, I've heard the governor has appointed a businessman as Kauai's interim representative on the state Board of Land and Natural Resources. Apparently, the selection committee didn't like any of the folks who had applied for the seat just vacated by Ron Agor. Still trying to confirm who the interim appointee is, but rumor is it's Avery Youn, architect and, ahem, “expeditor.”

I had a chance to converse with planning director Mike Dahilig today, via email and phone, about the Hanalei Plantation Resort access issue I've been covering. He dispelled the rumor left in comments yesterday, that he had flown on the county dime to meet with Ohana Real Estate Investors, the firm owned by billionaire Pierre Omidyar that wants to develop a super luxe resort on the site.

I do not make County travel arrangements to Honolulu to meet with applicants seeking departmental or commission approval on permit applications,” he wrote in an email. “They come to us.”

That's good. Not so good is the reality that the county doesn't really have it together when it comes to monitoring or enforcing beach accesses. It seems that different departments — planning, public works and parks — all hold easements, and they're all different types of agreements, with varying rights and responsibilities.

We need to establish protocols in house,” Mike acknowledged, so that there's consistency in how enforcements are handled.

To move against a landowner who is blocking an easement, the county would have to pursue legal action to have the courts compel the owner to live up to the terms of the agreement. It's a slow process.

But with the new civil fine authority, the county could also impose fines of up to $10,000 per day. Which is not a lot when you're a billionaire like Omidyar, but still, it's something. And as Mike said, it would provide more immediate relief. However, the county hasn't yet explored using that authority to enforce accesses.

In the meantime, Mike did say he will be contacting the landowner's agents on island;  Max Graham — oh, what a surprise — is the attorney. Mike said he also will send a letter to the commander of the Hanalei substation advising him the access should be left open and no one should be getting arrested for trespassing if they use it.

Thanks, Mike. I know I never would have gotten a response like that from Ian Costa.

I also spoke with Michelle Swartman, the landowner's PR person on Kauai, and she flat out denied the easement had ever been closed. Until I pressed her by repeating her words, and then she said, "What I'm saying is, from the time that I've been involved with the project that property has always been accessible.”

And then went round and round about what exactly that meant, with her speaking all the while in a voice and tone that was somewhere between timeshare saleswoman and Stepford wife.

She said she could not understand how in the world the community had gotten the perception the access had been closed.  Mmmm, maybe it was the lock and the no trespass sign?

When I asked why, if the access was now and always had been open,  Lance Laney had been threatened with trespass, and then having his car towed, she claimed total ignorance of how either of those events transpired. “Nothing is any different,” she claimed.


Anonymous said...

Yup, more shops that don't cater to the locals opening on the island. b-b-b-b-b-but it gives the locals more retail jobs!

Anonymous said...

We love dem minimum wage gigs!

Anonymous said...

Avery? On BLNR? really? OMG Fox is in da henhouse now.
Is that for sure....?

Anonymous said...

Bulai'a for representative for the state board of land and natural resources,Bulai'a for gov.,Bulai'a for mayor,infact bulai'a, for everything! Bulai'a forever!!

Anonymous said...


Just wanted to say thanks for putting the least experience and youngest planning director in the country in charge of our precious land!

You rock, I'm a developer!

Anonymous said...

Wow...if your little island zoo of about 68,000 residents can't get politics right, how can you possibly expect the entire state and the entire country to do better?

68,000 could be the population of any of thousands of townships, villages, etc, throughout the USA. Don't even mention internationally.

You represent about 5% of the state and 0.2% of the country.

And yet you can't clean up your messes and overcome outside power influences and inside "human failings".

If it can't be done in your little patch, it can't be done anywhere.

We're all bozos on this bus.

Anonymous said...

What part of, "we acknowledge your right to state that there is a plausible claim that the public has a right to assert the possibility that we should consider allowing a limited number of cars (given that there's no public parking at the beginning of the alleged public claim of a right of way) to drop off and pick up passengers" did you not understand?

Anonymous said...

What me worry? What access?
The inmates are running the insane asylum.
Its cultural. Blame the poor haole's while the locals in power are stuffing their pockets with the gold of billionaires....the haoles that provide cheap jobs.
I love capitalism. The exploited always need jobs.

Dr. Shibai

Anonymous said...

I'll bet things will work a LOT better on Ellison Island.

Feudal Lords vs democratically elected and appointed officials...given a benevolent Lord, I think the feudal system works better.

They better learn to love a big wind farm, though.

Anonymous said...

June 27, 2012 6:48 PM

I fully understood it on first reading.

It probably helped that I come from a family full of lawyers.

Joan Conrow said...

Anonymous 9:46 -- I've deleted your comment twice already. It's libelous and it's not going to be allowed. Please do not repost it.

Anonymous said...

Avery on BLNR is no different then Ron abercrombie?

Anonymous said...

Article XI, Section 9 of the State Constitution gives individuals a private right of action to sue, for themselves, or under public nuisance if the county fails to insist that the easement remain open.