Returning to the human world, I learned the Planning Commission's subdivision committee voted to defer until Oct. 9 a request for an unprecedented eight-year extension of the permits to develop 2,029 acres of agricultural land at Kealia into gentlemen's estates.
Sixteen people spoke in favor of the extension — primarily people who stand to personally benefit from the developer's promise to build a poi mill, donate public park land and fix up the Kealia rodeo grounds.
It struck me that even though people typically bitch and moan about how elected officials and appointed boards sell us out, when it comes right down to it, you've always got some people who are literally begging for a sell-out, because it serves their personal interests.
We've seen it happen time and again: a developer co-opts some members of the community with small promised favors, and they in turn happily sell the rest of us down the river.
And so it is again with those who are all too happy to get in bed with the ag land speculators so they can score a poi mill or a rodeo ring or 14 acres for a park that the county will have to develop and maintain.
Never mind that the land has already changed hands twice in the last five years and most likely will again once the valuable permit extensions are in hand. They want what they want, so they're willing to go speak in favor of 188 CPR “ag lots” that will be sold at prices no real farmer can afford.
Because they're so fixated on their own interests, they've lost sight of the bigger picture: the true cost of having 2,000 acres gentrified, and of setting precedents that other developers will demand.
What's really sad is our planning director and his staff recommended the Commission reject the extension request because it was such a bad deal for the county, for the community at large. After years of having us harp on them about stopping the endless extension of permits, they're finally stepping up and doing the right thing. They even urged the Commission to reject another extension request for a project near Kapaa Middle School that has somehow morphed from 55 farm lots into 700-plus homes.
But rather than applaud the staff for finally getting it, the self-servers say no, let it go, because we've been promised some goodies that are just too tempting to resist.
In another matter, but on the related topic of selling out, if you're at all interested in water issues, please check out my Honolulu Weekly article on the recent Supreme Court decision regarding the allocation of water from four streams on Maui. We have the laws in place, and the high court is willing to uphold them, but self-serving interests undermine the public trust, and the public good
Here's an excerpt:
Though the Commission [on Water Resource Management] was created to be the people’s champion in protecting water as a public trust resource, it has frequently sided with the corporate interests that divert streams, resulting in protracted court battles and repeated slap downs from the high court. Since CWRM’s inception in 1987, the Hawaii Supreme Court has reversed five Commission decisions–a higher rate of reversals than any other state agency.