Friday, January 31, 2014

Musings: Greatly Altered States

When driving past an old beach cottage being taken apart in Wainiha last week, I joked to my passenger, "So is that another 'unsubstantial improvement' going down?” 
By which I meant an obviously substantial reconstruction passed off as less to skirt the federal flood laws that require elevating the house. 

Turns out it is. A 54-year-old house that looked like this:
Got sold to New Jersey-based Hale Edena LLC:
Then gutted:
Stripped down to the slab:
And then some:
Now it's being expanded by 120 square feet:
All by virtue of a $45,200 county building permit that says: ADD MASTERBED/BATH,LAUNDRY RENO KITHEN [sic].

The building division deemed these upgrades "unsubstantial," meaning the house was not required to be elevated like its stilt-standing neighbor. 

This occurred because the county is still up to its old tricks: accepting a high-ball value for the house and a low-ball estimate for the repairs. This allows the owner to claim the improvements are less than 50 percent of the market value, and thus "unsubstantial" and not subject to flood laws.

In this case, the county accepted a $178,050 market value for a 947-square-foot, single-wall-construction, termite-ravaged shack built in 1960. The county real property tax office, meanwhile, assessed the entire property — the house and one-third of an acre in an extremely desirable coastal setting — at $531,800.  According to FEMA's guidelines for implementing the federal flood law:

The market value of a structure reflects its original quality, subsequent improvements [a $7,044 repair job in 1994], physical age of building components and current condition. For the purposes of determining substantial improvement, market value pertains only to the structure in question. It does not pertain to the land, landscaping or detached accessory structures on the property. Any value resulting from the location of the property should be attributed to the value of the land, not the building. 

Even if we were to believe that "tropical surf shack" has not experienced any depreciation, and has only appreciated to achieve a  $178,050 market value, how can we possibly believe it can somehow be entirely rebuilt, and 120-square-feet added, for just $45,200?

Fake formulas aside, isn't the county also supposed to consider the intent of the federal flood law, which is to keep people safe and reduce flood damage to buildings? And isn't the county zoning ordinance pretty clear that non-conforming uses — unelevated dwellings in a flood zone — aren't supposed to be expanded?

As in a larger footprint,  a "remodel" that is by all intents and purposes the construction of a brand new home? As FEMA states:

Reconstructions are cases where an entire structure is destroyed, damaged, purposefully demolished or razed, and a new structure is built on the old foundation or slab. The term also applies when an existing structure is moved to a new site. Reconstructions are, quite simply, “new construction.” They must be treated as new buildings.

Can the building division truly say, with a straight face, that this is not a reconstruction?

In the Abuse Chronicles series, I documented several examples of dubious "unsubstantial improvements" that allowed beach shacks to become luxury vacation rentals, with ground floor bedrooms in the flood zone.  

In its subsequent inquiry into TVR irregularities, the County Council focused almost entirely on the planning department, though I urged them twice in public testimony, and numerous times in this blog, to investigate the building and engineering divisions.

Yet somehow they managed to fly beneath the radar, and continue to do the same sketchy stuff that makes a mockery of county and federal laws, as well as construction values.
As FEMA notes:

People who own existing buildings that are being substantially improved will be required to make a major investment in them in order to bring them into compliance with the law. They will not be happy. For these reasons, it is easy to see that this basic rule can be difficult to administer. It is also the one time when your regulatory program can reduce flood damage to existing buildings. 

Yet for some reason, Kauai County seems unwilling to risk making new owners unhappy. Instead, they are allowed to expand and upgrade houses in a part of the island where floods are a regular occurrence and people have actually died in tsunami waves. 

The inevitable unhappiness, it seems, is being deferred to a later day. 

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Musings: On Local Control

The buzzword these days is “local control,” with The Garden Island's newbie editor weighing in on its importance, in opposition to the “right to farm bills” now before the state Legislature.

While I also highly value the concepts of local control and home rule, and wholeheartedly agree that "Kauai should have a say on local matters," I think we need to stop for a moment and define exactly what that means.

Does "local control" include people like Sun City resident Sandy Calhoun Scanlan and possible prospective resident Ronald John, who published a letter and guest commentary, respectively, trashing the new dairy?

Does it include the Los Angeles transplant Biotech Babe who threatened to launch an impeachment drive against our mayor when he vetoed Bill 2491? Paid political activist Jennifer Ruggles, who cast nasty, unfounded aspersions on county officials before jetting back to the mainland? Brent Norris, a rabidly anti-GMO Big Islander who participated in a meeting setting rules for the implementation of our Ordinance 960?
Does it include the Center for Food Safety, Pesticide Action Network, Earthjustice and the other mainland-based organizations that played a big role in drafting Bill 2491 and financing its passage?

Does it include all the mainland signatures in support of Bill 2491 collected by Food Democracy Now and other unverifiable internet petitions and email drives? The mainland signatures in opposition to 2491 collected by the chem corps?

Does it include Maui attorney Lance Collins, who is now protesting our pro bono procurement process and interpretation of the County Charter, as it pertains to defending Bill 2491?

Should all of these non-Kauai people continue to have power and influence over what happens on our island? Or is it just the Legislature we want to exclude?

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Musings: No Defense

The Hawaii Supreme Court has ruled that kanaka maoli have no special or fundamental rights when it comes to building a nation.

The court issued its decision yesterday in a case stemming from the trespassing conviction of three citizens of the Reinstated Hawaiian Nation who landed on Kahoolawe in July 2006. They intended to stake a claim to all the lands owned by the Kingdom of Hawaii when it was illegally overthrown in 1893 and initiate a process to ascertain whether kanaka were likely to receive any assistance from the Hawaii judicial system in their efforts to re-establish their nation.

The Justices made it clear in their ruling that kanaka can't break Western law — in this case, landing without state permission on an island that is being held in trust until it can be returned to a sovereign Hawaiian entity — and claim they're doing it under the auspices of nation-building.

Though the high court rejected the nation-building arguments, it did overturn the trespassing convictions on a technicality. It's unknown whether Maui County will refile the charges.

With the court decision in place and the state Legislature clearly unwilling to deliver justice to kanaka maoli, I'm told the Reinstated Hawaiian Nation will now focus its efforts on international recognition. Will world opinion pressure the United States to address its admittedly illegal overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom?

The "Atooi Nation" flexed its muscles Monday night, joining with activists to shut down a Department of Water meeting on a proposed new horizontal well drilling project. Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura told The Garden Island:

“Although I wasn’t able to stay for the whole thing, what I saw made me very sad because it looked like a community that was not able to talk civilly and with aloha about a very important issue.”

Sad, yes, but surely she's not surprised. I think we all knew this was going to be the new model for public meetings on Kauai, since it was used so effectively to muscle through Bill 2491/Ordinance 960 — with JoAnn's acquiescence. Go Team Fist!

What a great legacy for Councilman Gary Hooser, who blew off today's dreary Council meeting to get his ego stroked at the far more exciting People Not Profits march at the state Capitol. And you thought he was supporting Bill 2491 because he cares about Kauai.

Gary's son Dylan, meanwhile, is beginning to take a more visible role in politics — perhaps positioning himself for a Council run? The sunrise shell entrepreneur accompanied dad to opening day at the Lege, holding a “shame on you” poster outside the door of Kauai representatives, and last weekend's Filipino Chamber of Commerce banquet. As the old saying goes, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, as evidenced by Dylan's  Civil Beat commentary today, which is pretty much a verbatim rehash of Gary's claims, many of which have been discredited.

Interesting that Maui attorney Lance Collins is challenging the county's attempt to secure pro bono attorneys to defend us against the chem corps' challenge of 2491. Especially since Gary hosted Lance at a recent Northshore meeting on the benefits of County Council districts.

Could it be they're looking for a way out, or trying to force the county to foot the bill for a defense run by attorneys for nonprofits that stand to benefit greatly from the associated publicity?

Though some attorneys have told me there may be some merit in Lance's claim that the county's definition of pro bono can't extend to court costs and fees, it appears his assertion that the Council must approve special counsel is off-base. The Council approves funding for special counsel, but it is the County Attorney's office that determines when and if special counsel is used.

Maybe attorney Teri Tico, who stands to make millions off the sale of her Haena house — part of a four-lot subdivision she created that now includes three vacation rentals — could fund the defense, with other attorneys donating their time. I mean, they did promise, in an Oct. 18, 2013 letter to Mayor Bernard Carvalho:

We urge you to allow Bill 2491 to become law. We will be there to defend it.

Monday, January 27, 2014

High Court Strikes Down State Shoreline Policy

In a decision that strongly reaffirms beaches as a public trust resource, the Hawaii Supreme Court  has ruled the state must consider historical evidence when determining the shoreline.

The opinion, released Monday morning, also reiterates the high court's 2006 ruling that vegetation may not be planted to manipulate the shoreline, which becomes the starting line for a building setback. The opinion states:

The use of such a false vegetation line in making a shoreline determination would allow landowners to effectively erect an artificial 'barrier'; extending their land further makai.

The ruling effectively puts an end to the state's “single-year snapshot” approach, in which the state surveyor is guided solely by what's visible the day of the site visit, even if historical photographs indicate the highest wash is further mauka. That approach tends to favor landowners, at the expense of the public trust.

The opinion also reaffirms that citizens have an important role to play in protecting the public trust, reiterating an earlier court ruling that the state must consider non-expert kamaaina testimony in determining the shoreline.

In the past, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) regularly used the lowest reach of vegetation to set the shoreline, prompting a lawsuit by attorney Harold Bronstein on behalf of Wainiha resident Caren Diamond.

That litigation resulted in the high court's 2006 landmark Diamond I decision, which clearly defined the public beach as extending to the highest seasonal wash of the waves.

But landowners continued to plant coastal vegetation in order to impede the waves and make it difficult to locate the debris that is left when the surf washes in. That problem was further compounded by the state's decision to adopt the “single-year snapshot” approach.

Bronstein sued again to challenge that policy, on behalf of Diamond and Beau Blair. Kauai Circuit Judge Kathleen Watanabe ruled against the state in 2010 and found the “single-year snapshot” interpretation of the law to be “arbitrary, capricious and/or characterized by an abuse of discretion” because it “conflicts with and/or contradicts the purpose and intent” of the state shoreline statute.

Watanabe's ruling was later overturned by the Intermediate Court of Appeals, prompting Bronstein to seek a decision from the Hawaii Supreme Court.

As I previously reported for the Honolulu Weekly, the Justices quickly and clearly grasped the key issue during oral arguments last April. As Justice Richard Pollack noted, under the state's “single-year-snapshot” policy, he could seek multiple certifications and choose the one most favorable to him before building his house.

Is that the position you want to advocate for the state – that everybody in this state is going to lose the ability to use our beaches because the storms are less this year than prior years?” Pollack asked Deputy State Attorney Linda Chow.

The public policy is to extend as much beach to the public as possible, and that's the way it should be,” Bronstein said in his closing statements.

In issuing their unanimous ruling today, the Justices agreed.

We conclude that the BLNR must consider historical evidence in making its shoreline determination,” wrote Justice Simeon Acoba, who went on to note the state had failed to do so. “Thus, where there was evidence of prior years’ 'wash of the waves', the agency must consider the evidence from those years when making the shoreline determination.”

Acoba also noted that the high court previously had found “reputation evidence by kamaaina witnesses” must be allowed in determining the “public and private boundary dividing private land and public beaches.” The ruling states:

Thus, the BLNR was wrong when it used only the historical evidence from the two preceding winter seasons to determine the “highest wash of the waves,” rather than evaluating historical evidence of the past eight years for which Petitioners provided testimony of their observations.

We therefore also expressly reject [landowner Craig] Dobbin and [private surveyor Ron] Wagner’s contention that “the ultimate determination of the upper reaches of the wash of the waves at high tide . . . is [solely] one for experts and those qualified under the law.” This is wrong as a matter of law.

The high court dinged the DLNR for continuing to disregard state law when setting shorelines, and reiterated the language from its 2006 decision:

This holds that where the shoreline is marked by both a vegetation line and a debris line, the line further mauka is used to locate the shoreline. Any approach undertaken by the BLNR must be executed in accordance with this basic precept.

The opinion also re-confirmed two rulings by the late Chief Justice William Richardson. These are the 1968 Ashford decision, which set forth many of the foundations underlying future shoreline determinations, and the 1973 Sotomura decision, which established that “[p]ublic policy, as interpreted by this court, favors extending to public use and ownership as much of Hawaii’s shoreline as is reasonably possible.

The Justices further noted that though a shoreline certification lasts for just one year, “the shoreline determination can be a significant designation, resulting in ramifications for more than just one year.

That certainly has proven true in Wainiha, where many houses were constructed without adequate setback because their shorelines were certified in years with low wave heights. Most notably, Joe Brescia would've been forced to build his house further mauka, rather than atop iwi kupuna.

Now that the state has been slapped down twice by the HSC, let's hope it finally starts setting shorelines that protect beaches as a public trust resource, rather than allowing landowners to privatize them.

Musings: Blow Back

The gusty winds have finally calmed, though not before ushering in the first indication of a political blow-back to Bill 2491/Ordinance 960 — Kauai County's contentious pesticide/GMO disclosure law.

Political observers were keeping a close eye on the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative smart meter opt-out fee vote, as it was pushed by many of the same players behind 2491. The turnout was the largest in KIUC's history, with 74% voting yes, those who opt out should pay the associated fees. It was a resounding defeat for the activists who petitioned for the vote.

When I texted the results to a friend — a local guy who voted NO on the fees and supported 2491 — he replied:

Expected something like. Backlash against loudmouth protestors n tree huggers.

Meanwhile, despite the fray over 2491, Kauai state House Reps. Jimmy Tokioka and Dee Morikawa were sufficiently emboldened — even in an election year — to join 34 other state Representatives in introducing House Bill 2506, the so-called “right to farm” bill that activists have dubbed the “Monsanto protection act.”

Ironically, the two counties where Monsanto does operate, Maui and Honolulu, have not adopted any legislation regulating biotech activities. A version of Bill 2491 was introduced in the Maui County Council, but it has failed to gain traction.

Though one Facebooker claimed Dee had “signed her political death warrant” in affixing her name to the bill, I suspect Dee, who represents westside Kauai, has a better grip on the mood of her constituents than a Facebooking pundit who rarely leaves his house in Kapaa.

It will be interesting to see whether House Speaker Joe Souki, who also signed on to HB 2506, pressures Rep. Jessica Wooley into holding a hearing on the bill. Wooley, who chairs the House Ag committee and is married to an attorney for Earthjustice, the environmental law firm that vetted Bill 2491, has indicated she won't move the bill.

Rep. Derek Kawakami, who represents the northeast side of Kauai, did not sign on. Nor did Sen. Ron Kouchi, though a companion bill was introduced in the Senate by politically powerful players like Sens. Clarence Nishihara, Clayton Hee, Malama Solomon and Donovan Dela Cruz, among dubious others.

The Legislature's willingness to consider such a measure in an election year, even as Ordinance 960 faces a serious and well-funded challenge in the courts, is an indication that the state isn't prepared to relinquish any power to the counties — or let them punish the most valuable sector of Hawaii agriculture.

Meanwhile, another hot potato issue will go before the public tonight: the county Department of Water's proposal to drill a horizontal well into Mount Kahili. The meeting, set for 6 to 8 tonight at Kapaa Middle School, is intended to present the “cost-savings analysis” of such a plan and accept public testimony.

Aside from cultural concerns, which I will leave to the cultural practitioners, I still have the same reservations I did when I wrote about the proposal more than a year ago. The project, which would double the water capacity of the Lihue-Kapaa area, is planned for land owned by Grove Farm.

And Grove Farm, as evidence by its recent sale of thousands of acres to billionaire Brad Kelley, is no longer in the land-holding business, but the land sale and development business. All that extra capacity would certainly sweeten the pot — especially since Grove Farm has long struggled to serve its own projects in the area. It looks to me like Grove Farm could be a major benefactor, though water customers would pick up the tab.

The decision ultimately rests with the Board of Water Supply, and none of its seven members are elected.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Musings: Sweet and Sour

Whenever I hear the bzzzz, I have to stop, and look, and discover where the bees are, and what they are collecting.
In this case, it's the white pollen from hinano, the hala flower. I've often wondered, while watching them work the beach heliotrope, what the honey might taste like.  But though I've smelled it in the haole koa and ironwood thickets, in the heat of late summer, I've never searched for the sweet source. That's theirs.
The big dump that somebody took in the beach parking lot, that's ours, as in the public/county having to clean up a lazy sack's trashy mess. Geez. You'd expect higher consciousness from someone who grows organic.
It's a big win for YES – folks who opt-out from smart meters will pay the associated fees. It was the biggest turnout in KIUC's history, with 43 percent of the members casting ballots and 74 percent of them voting yes. That's saying something. Loud and clear. 
It's a big loss for no, especially since four of the candidates for the upcoming KIUC Board of Directors have traded heavily on the anti-KIUC, anti-smart meter, anti-fee platform. One of them, Jimmy Trujillo, opined on Facebook:

we'll see how this saturday's election results will shape the [KIUC] BOD election.
I wouldn't go quite so far as to say the die has been cast, but.....

I watched “Queen of the Sun” last night, a pro-bee movie, because who, really could be anti-bee? Except those people who freak out at anything that goes bzzzz and aren't thinking about how many wild hives are destroyed when they top a forest of ironwoods to improve their coastal view, clear cut a jungle to develop gentleman's estates.
The developer of one such project, Chris Singleton, was arrested last week at the scene of one such clearing. He had evicted Growing Greens Nursery, a small family-owned business that had been there some 20 years, and they had until the end of the month to get out. But he showed up and allegedly started getting very nasty with the nursery owners — an attitude that reportedly was directed as well at the police who charged him with disorderly conduct. 

Singleton, you may recall, is the same guy who developed the Waipouli Beach Resort, with its many iwi kupuna. In his latest project — the luxury “ag” estates that displaced Growing Greens in Kapahi — he is teaming with anti-GMO Realtor Neal Norman. Geez, you'd expect higher consciousness from someone who used to  grow organic.
If you still doubt that high-end developers and realtors are looking to destroy real ag on Kauai, look no further than what's left of Growing Greens Nursery. 

Friday, January 24, 2014

Musings: Bad Taste

Democracy is alive and well on Kauai, as evidenced by the spate of candidates running for the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative board. Unfortunately, quantity doesn't equal quality.

Here's the line up: Former board member Stu Burley and incumbents David Iha, Phil Tacbian and Peter Yukimura are the good ole boys picked by the Board's nominating committee. The other seven qualified by getting 35 signatures on a petition. Yes, it's that easy. They are Adam Asquith, Neal Chantara, Daniel Erickson, DQ Jackson, Jonathan Jay, Chuck Lasker and Jimmy Trujillo.

Adam and Jonathan circulated the petition for the smart meter opt-out fee vote, which ends on Saturday. Adam was also on the losing side of the last member vote over the Free Flow consulting contract. He sued KIUC twice over smart meters, and on Wednesday lost his bid for an injunction to stop KIUC from collecting the opt-out fee pending the vote. 

Circuit Judge Kathleen Watanabe found that Adam had met none of the criteria needed for an injunction, and should have included the Public Utilities Commission in his motion. The law is clear that this is not an issue to be challenged in court,” she said.

So the co-op burned well over $20,000 in legal fees on Adam's pro se petulance. The guy's got a Ph.D. Seems he could have read the law if he was intent on representing himself.

I can't knock Adam, Jonathan and Jimmy Trujillo for running — JJ for a second time. As relentless critics of the KIUC board and management, it's good to see them engage in the process at the beginning, rather than blowing off board meetings and PUC proceedings and then bitching about what went down.

Still, it does leave a bad taste to have Adam and JJ announce their candidacy after a lawsuit and petition drive — actions that gave them considerable newspaper publicity.

The three of them also have benefitted from their talk shows on KKCR, where smart meters and KIUC are regularly hammered hard. While it appears all three are taking leave from their shows, as is proper while campaigning — though Jimmy and Felicia Cowden kept hosting, even while seeking appointment to the County Council — they've already used our community-funded radio to further their political aims. This gives them an unfair advantage over other candidates.

And they're still working it. Though Jonathan didn't host his show, he did call in to complain about KIUC spokesman Jim Kelly removing his “Vote No” signs from utility poles. JJ demanded a public apology. But as Jim pointed out, it's against the law to post any signs on utility poles because they're a hazard to linemen. He carries pliers in his truck and removes them whenever he sees them.

There's irony alongside the immaturity. JJ, Jimmy and Adam have all banged KIUC for a lack of transparency and democracy. Yet as Ed Coll points out in the “KKCR Crisis in Demagoguery” series on his new blog, our community radio station has an abysmal track record in both areas.

But since the three talk show hosts benefit from the station's dysfunction, they haven't said a word against it. Jimmy even tried to smear Ed, who is married to Board member Carol Bain, for bringing it up at all, writing on Facebook: “i wondered if Ed posted because of his relationship to the board of KIUC.”

Yes, let's attack and attempt to silence any messenger who might make us, god forbid, look at ourselves.

Speaking of which, it's been amusing to me to watch more of the hypocrisy in action from the pro-2491 crowd. Like the one rabid anti-pesticide/GMO activist who is a chain smoker and lives behind Princeville's park, apparently blissfully ignorant of the chemicals applied in her neighborhood. Or the beekeeper who hates poison in the westside fields, but thinks nothing of tossing it around when she gets rats.

Or blogger Andy Parx, who viciously maligned farmers for trying to orchestrate a — gasp — letter-writing campaign to the Star-Advertiser, even as he actively engages in the same lobbying efforts himself via Facebook.

I guess it's because they alone are good and above reproach, and everybody who doesn't think exactly like them is bad?

Which leads me to a little aloha Friday treat for readers: a link to a classic Twilight Zone episode, “The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street.” I'm sure some of you will find more than a few parallels with the situation here on Kauai. Just substitute any number of nouns for monsters, and some of our own players for the cast.

One of my favorite lines: Any guy who’d spend his time lookin’ up at the sky early in the morning—well, there’s something wrong with that kind of person.

I won't give away the great ending, but I'll share Rod Serling's closing comments from the script:

The tools of conquest do not necessarily come with bombs and explosions and fallout. There are weapons that are simply thoughts, attitudes, prejudices—to be found only in the minds of men. For the record, prejudices can kill and suspicion can destroy. A thoughtless, frightened search for a scapegoat has a fallout all its own for the children . . . and the children yet unborn, and the pity of it is . . . that these things cannot be confined to . . . The Twilight Zone!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Musings: Losing Ground

It starts with Venus, glowing like a coal in a faint pink sky, sunrise in my rear view mirror, dawn patrol gathering at Crack 14, sea still glassy, wind just picking up.

Rainbow at Princeville, billowing ehukai in Hanalei, my friend Caren, trembling a bit in the parking lot of Hanalei Colony Resort, having just been subjected to an in-your-face barrage of inelegant epithets, delivered by Freddie Kaufman, owner of one Haena lot and caretaker of two oceanfront properties.

Her “offense?” Taking pictures that document the public beach, as defined by the highest seasonal wash of the waves. Or more accurately, proving how much we're losing to private landowners, while the state looks the other way.
The swell is big, and blown out by a biting northwest wind, but it's certainly not the biggest in decades, and nowhere near “monster,” as hyped. It's about an hour past high tide.
We check out Swaying Palms, the debris line clearly evident in the adjacent lot. It's obvious the waves having been washing right under this "sleeps 14" vacation rental.
The surf has deposited a fresh layer of sand under the house, and piled up driftwood beneath the steps. 
Using an access that's supposed to be 6 feet wide, we reach the beach. 

We move cautiously along the sand, where surf debris is evident in the backyards of several TVRs.
It  reveals the true extent of how much public beach has been lost to the mini-resorts.

A new house is under construction, and though it's set back about 80 feet, the waves are already lapping at the lot.
Here, an undeveloped lot has been cleared makai, giving the public a big chunk of its beach back. But right next door, the same frontage has been effectively privatized.
In many places, landscaping has been ripped out by the waves. Caren recounts how Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura, in discussions about the pending shoreline setback bill, asked what's so wrong with letting people replant when their vege is wiped out by the surf. Mmmm, because that would be allowing them to claim the obviously public beach.
Monk seal signage, left too close to the water line, starts floating out to sea, but a guy risks life and limb to retrieve it.

We check out the King and Princess Hale, due for a shoreline certification the next morning. The owners want to do some kind of remodel, though it's unclear if it's another round of the “unsubstantial improvement” kind that allowed them to enclose the downstairs. Hey, maybe the county's making them rip out the downstairs. I'll have to check with planning, but I'm not optimistic.
A peek at the lawn shows debris has washed into the backyard, past the proposed shoreline. Oops.
Just then, a wave washes up and flows 85 feet past the proposed shoreline, into the public access. The vege hedges interrupt the flow of water, and thus the natural movement of the sand on the beach.
Two of the limited parking spaces at this public access are being used by people staying at the adjacent vacation rental.
Next stop is Kanaha, where landowners have replaced public parking with boulders, spider lilies and no parking signs.
The beach access post has been yanked out. Translation: beat it.
The access takes us through an oh-so-attractive tunnel of weedblock, where the debris line again offers evidence that public beach has been privatized behind those black barriers on either side.
Karma never sleeps reads a hand-lettered sign intended to chasten a bike thief. Indeed.
As if on cue, as soon as we emerge, we are confronted with a graphic example of beach theft — a good 30 feet of sand covered by landscaping.
Guess that orange shoreline marker was set a bit too far makai, to the benefit of the landowner.
We walk down the beach, past Pierce Brosnan's yard. Though he's cleared some of his vege, it's apparent he's still encroaching onto the public beach. About 25 feet worth, in fact.
Not to mention his little shelter.
Back at Freddie's end, we find no furious Freddie, but the freshly deposited sand offers more evidence of vege and structural encroachment onto the beach. There's that ugly fence, the one whose removal was fought tooth and nail by a landowner's attorney, until the state finally gave up. This property also has more than 40 burials.
Right next door, another fence is obviously on the public beach. Sections are falling apart, and one day they'll break loose and become a nice hazard on the reef. And that's the other reason why you don't let people replant, JoAnn. Their stuff is just gonna end up back in the ocean.
We check out Chun's, where we have a public right of way to the shoreline. But due to fences on either side, there's no safe lateral access when the waves are big or the tide is high.

The surf is building at Haena Beach Park, which is swarming with tourists. Windblown, chilled, gritty-eyed, we head back to HCR, where Caren is parked. Enroute, we decide to make another quick stop at the King Hale to see if circumstances have changed. We run into a woman named Marilyn, who tells us she is photographing high water lines.

And why are you interested in high water lines? I inquire. Because I believe the entire public has a right to the beach, and not just the rich people, she replies. Caren introduces herself and Marilyn perks up, says she's been wanting to meet Caren, the patron saint of shorelines. We part with smiles. Some people get it. But not enough.
Caren and I relax for a moment, out of the wind and waves on a patch of sand washed clean in high tide. The fate of this bit of beach is before the Hawaii Supreme Court, which is considering Caren's challenge to the way the state has been certifying shorelines. But nature is showing us it's clearly the beach and belongs in the public trust — not as private property.

Without it, we would be unable to hang on the shoreline today, because the public beach is heavily vegetated and impassable on either side. Caren's been struggling to maintain the coastline here, often one lot at a time. Meanwhile, miles are being lost across the state as citizens stand idly by or devote their attention to other issues.

As we prepare to leave, we encounter the surveyor, who has come to check his proposed shoreline at the King and Princess Hale. He's saying one thing, nature is saying something else. Wonder what the state's shoreline certification guy will say when he looks tomorrow morning. 

Turning into HCR, Caren points out a young man walking across the parking lot. “That's the guy who uses the turkey shit in his landscaping. He told me so. He's planted over 30 properties. Now he's getting paid to remove some of that vegetation.” 

Caren and I say a hui hou  and I head east, through Hanalei, which has become virtually indistinguishable from any other beachy tourist town, with its throngs and the smell of cooking grease hanging heavy in the salt air. 

Waiting in a string of cars, I see a dozen gallinule foraging in a fallow taro field alongside the road. At least the native water birds are doing well, I think, though some taro farmers hate them for it.

There's a half-mile line of traffic on either side of the bridge, folks wanting to get in and out of the valley, and as I cross, I hear Shilo Pa singing in my head: “Whatever happened to Hanalei.”

And I remember what Caren said, right before we parted: "The North Shore is under assault."