While cruising up to the North Shore the other day, I saw lots of Brian Schatz for Senator campaign signs — though Coldwell Banker, Hawaii Life and Sotheby must be more popular, because their signs greatly outnumbered his.
And I thought of a comment that Wainiha resident Eddie Kauo made to me a few years back: “I watch them wash in, and I watch them wash back out.”
I giggled a little when I saw Schatz's blatant bid to lure the Kauai vote by pretending he can influence the return of Friday night football games. My first thought was, really? That's the best you have to offer us?
“Who do you think is better, Colleen Hanabusa or Brian Schatz?” I asked a friend.
“It always comes down to the lesser of two evils,” he replied.
“So which one is more evil?”
“Well, Hanabusa's been around longer, so she's had more time to pile up the bad stuff. But Schatz is keeping pace.”
“Isn't this the race that's supposed to determine whether the haoles have taken over Hawaii, or the Japanese have retained control? I thought that you, as an Asian guy, would be voting for Hanabusa.”
“I am,” he said. “But not because of that. It's because her brother was my classmate, and my father knew her father...”
“Oh, I see.”
I see The Garden Island has published yet another commentary bashing the dairy. Though for some odd reason it has refused to run a piece from Police Chief Darryl Perry that he submitted last Friday, explaining why Kuhio Highway was closed for six hours due to the fatal crash last week. The chief finally posted it on the KPD website, where far fewer people are likely to see it. But then, it's not the first time I've scratched my head over TGI's editorial choices.
In today's anti-dairy dirge, Poipu resident Charlotte Beall talks about how people come to Kauai to experience its natural beauty:
But part of keeping Kauai pristine is not bringing in industries that will affect everything that makes Kauai desirable. Who will want to come when we’ve polluted the rivers, land and ocean so much that those species we delight in will disappear?
Aside from the mistaken belief that Kauai is “pristine” — it's not, and it hasn't been for centuries now — Beall apparently fails to realize that tourism began in Hawaii when nearly every inch was covered with pineapple and sugar cane, crops that were regularly sprayed with pesticides, sometimes via planes. And the tourists kept coming even though cane fires were burning, sugar cane waste was being dumped into the ocean and the mills, pig farms and dairies produced odors that Beall no doubt would find offensive.
We heard the same thing during the Bill 2491 battle: the tourists won't come if we're growing GMO crops with pesticides. Except that many, many tourists come from the Midwest, where feedlots and GMO crops are part of the landscape. Others come from the polluted cities.
As a case in point, a friend was visiting from Los Angeles when we were getting all that rain. I advised against surfing Hanalei, due to the runoff from the cesspools, taro fields and backcountry. His reply: It's still better than surfing at home, where I'm dealing with all the runoff from a metropolitan area of 10 million people.
Which is not to say we should trash Kauai, only that we needn't worry about the tourists. It's going to take a lot more than a dairy at Mahaulepu to deter them, unfortunately.
Beall wants to “find another use for that pristine land near Mahaulepu Beach and the Hyatt,” apparently failing to realize it was designated Important Ag Lands through a very prolonged and public process. If not there, then where? Someone else's backyard? Kauai is a rural community, and that means agriculture in our midst, not tucked away out of sight, out of mind.
Some wily developers are even using farms as a bucolic selling point for projects like Agritopia. They're building subdivisions — now dubbed "agrihoods" — around farms that supply the residents with veggies and vicarious thrills. As the New York Times reported:
"I'm a foodie and interested in animal husbandry and cultivating my own wasabi and mushrooms," [Seattle lawyer L.B.] Kregenow said. But she also likes to travel, which she said makes living in an agrihood ideal. "For me, the serious downside of farming is doing it on your own means, doing it 365 days a year," she said. "But in this scheme we will have a farm without all the responsibility."
What surprised me was learning that Kukuiula, A&B's super-luxe project near Poipu, is considered one of these agrihoods:
The Kukui'ula community in Kauai, Hawaii, opened in 2012 and has a 10-acre farm in addition to a clubhouse, spa and golf course.
"As a developer it's been humbling that such a simple thing and such an inexpensive thing is the most loved amenity," said Brent Herrington, who oversaw the building of Kukui'ula for the developer DMB Associates. "We spend $100 million on a clubhouse, but residents, first day on the island, they go to the farm to get flowers, fruits and vegetables."
Perhaps Grove Farm should have followed that lead. Why bother with a 600-acre dairy that's getting dinged when you can lease 10 acres to a farmer and then build a resort, golf course, clubhouse and fancy homes all around it?
We may yet see that come to pass. Because I have seen one scenario play out repeatedly and unfailingly in Hawaii: development always replaces agriculture.