Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Musings: Troubling Signs

Late afternoon's golden light giving way to the pinks of a gentle sunset, clouds piling up behind Makaleha, crescent moon slung low in the western sky, beginning a new cycle toward full. It's the time of day, the kind of time, in which all seems right with the world. 

So long as you don't do any digging....

Got an email from a friend in the Midwest, corn country, that read:

Was at the grocery store and a little old lady was questioning her bill. She said, I think there is a mistake, I was charged $1.99 for 1 apple. the manager was very nice and explained it was a Honey Crisp and $3 something a pound, so the price was correct. She said, I just wanted an apple, things are so expensive. For some reason it was poignant, the frustration, fear, not having any control, a little old lady just wanting an apple. Then there were murmurs among the people in the checkout line agreeing how much food has gone up. I thought to myself, things like that apple are what could set people off if the economic strain continues. I felt for the lady, obviously on a restricted income and often notice how many are on food assistance. I frequently hear Moms saying, put that back, we can't afford it. We seem to have food pantries and access for the very poor, but not for those slipping in the cracks.……

It made me think of other troubling economic signs of the times that have filtered into my awareness lately....

A third of Americans today say they are lower-class, compared to a quarter just four years ago, according to a Pew Research Center poll.

In 1962, the top 1 percent had 125 times the net worth of the median U.S. household; by 2010, they had 288 times more, reports CNNMoney.com. It seems the trend has two causes: Not only are the rich getting richer, but the middle class is getting poorer.

Locally, county officials were almost slavering over the construction jobs to be provided by the next phase of The Path — jobs that will last just six months, and aren't likely to be numerous. Because aside from the perennial road work, nothing else is happening in construction.

Into this depressed scene comes Kauai Beach Villas — the condo/timeshare project at Nukolii — with a lawsuit against the county. KBV is affiliated with PAHIO, which is led by Lynn McCrory, who has already made a tidy pile developing timeshares in Princeville.  

Old-timers remember Nukolii, and the very questionable events that led to development of a resort — now the Hilton Kauai Beach Resort — on that windy, reefy coastline.

It seems the PAHIO folks are unhappy because the new TAU ordinance — adopted by the Council in response to a citizen's initiative — won't allow them to develop another 1,000 units out there.

Never mind that the land in question isn't even zoned for 1,000 units. Or that the likelihood of finding an investor for such a development — or that many timeshare buyers — is essentially nil. Or that 70 percent of the voters approved the charter amendment that led to the TAU (transient accommodation unit) ordinance.

(As a quick refresher, the amendment took authority for processing most TAU requests away from the planning commission, which had been approving resort development at a rate far greater than suggested by the General Plan, and gave it to the County Council.)

I think what really hit me in the legal complaint was the assertion that the charter amendment and TAU ordinance “frustrate KVB's investment-backed expectations and do not substantially advance a state interest.” 

In other words, developers like Lynn McCrory are leveraging not what they actually have,  but what they expect. As for "advancing a state interest" — what, there's no value in regulating growth on an island, or carrying out the directive of the electorate?

Just kinda shows you the cheeky mentality of developers who so rarely hear the word no in Hawaii.

Carl Imparato of Coalition for Responsible Government, the grassroots group that got the charter amenment on the ballot, thinks the complaint is "without merit." But the Coalition and the county will still have to respond to it. And that means legal fees.

I only hope the County Council, which has been quick to allocate special counsel funds for the prosecutor, the mayor, the police commission and other county matters, will be equally willing to invest what is needed to fight this challenge. After all, this charter amendment was the will of the people.


Anonymous said...

1360 hotel units or 680 multi family units. It doesn't have to be a hotel. Kalepa Village II.

Anonymous said...

great point

Anonymous said...

Lets see how much balls the County has to stand up to this greed. With Al Castillo providing legal counsel, not much chance of that.

Anonymous said...

Who benefits from the multitude of new construction jobs created everytime?
Strip clubs, hostess bars and lap dancers.

Anonymous said...

Lynn Mcrory. Name is familiar but how? Wasnʻt she on one of the state boards? Administration or something? I will google her later though.

Anonymous said...

Define: lower class.
Seems that people forced into lower income brackets are not the lower class and the few making grand finacial windfalls are the lower class with higher incomes.
Oh, yea, nouveau riche. Money can never buy class...if we even want to use that word.
Like Iʻve said before, a lot of these cheap sleezes got their fortunes from lawsuits or walking around in their houses naked with 24/7 cams to peddle on the internet.

Anonymous said...

McCrory was Kauai rep on Board of Land and natural Resources. Now she's doing the Lihue-Kekaha mill demo projects.

Anonymous said...

God invented beer so construction workers wouldn't rule the world.

At least for 6 months every 2-3 years.

Basing jobs on construction, is totally bogus.

Anonymous said...

Griping about construction jobs is totally bogus

Anonymous said...

The council gave the power of approval back to the planning commission in an ordinace that limited the number of "new" transient unit to the numbers in the charter amendment. They're actually claiming (get this) that because they thought about some day upzoning a bunch of ag land and making it hotel units way back when they asked for the original Hilton at Nukolii the ones they thought about in the 70's shouldn't count as new ones. Some nerve, yeah?

Anonymous said...

Richest country in the world except for us 47 percenters.