Friday, April 18, 2014

Musings: Different Mind Sets

Is it better to have more restrictive public access to protect a still-pristine beach? Or should the most generous access be required in exchange for the right to develop a 76-lot luxury “ag subdivision” along the coast?

That's the question the Kauai County Council is grappling with as it decides whether to accept a beach access the planning commission approved for Falko Properties' Kahuaina Plantation subdivision, off Koolau Road.

Waipake Beach is currently reached only via long walk from the Larsen's (Lepeuli) access — unless you know somebody who will let you drive across private property to reach the beach, as some fishermen do.

Because it is relatively inaccessible and unused by humans, it's a place where you're likely to find sea turtles and monk seals, often with pups, basking on the beach. Albatross nest on the hillsides above.

Both the developer and beach-goers are using the presence of these protected species to advance their positions. The developer has offered a vertical access through the 360-acre property that also requires a long walk and ends at a pile of rocks, arguing that wildlife will be harmed if it's too easy for folks to get there. Except, of course, for the people who are wealthy enough to buy the lots.

Beach-goers like Peter Waldau, Richard Spacer and Hope Kallai, however, claim the public needs a better vertical access as well as a lateral access through private property in order to stay mauka of the monk seals that pup on that beach. They're pushing to delay the project until the long-contested ala loa — coastal trail — issue is resolved, which most likely will require litigation.

However, Clinton Bettencourt objected to Kallai testifying that it was "her sacred trail. The trail belongs to the kanaka. It always did and it always will. I don't care who owns the land."

Councilman Gary Hooser said state law requires lateral coastal access in areas where steep cliffs or rocks prevent access during high surf times. But Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura and Deputy County Attorney Ian Jung clarified that public access extends to the highest seasonal wash of the waves, and the county would need to go through the condemnation process to create a lateral access mauka of the shoreline.

Bettencourt, who has been fishing that stretch of coastline for 50 years, testified to the Council that Shawn Smith has been doing a good job of managing the land for Falko Properties, and the beach is “pristine because there's very little people that go there to throw their opala and then go home. We'd like to keep it the way it is.” However, he noted that it is becoming increasingly used by nude sunbathers, who are moving northward from their usual hangout at Lepeuli Beach. “This area should not be desecrated in such a manner.”

Councilmen Mel Rapozo and Ross Kagawa both expressed their alarm about the presence of nude beaches on Kauai, with Mel saying it's against the law and Ross expressing concern “when our keiki has to see that we cannot enforce the laws on our beaches.”

JoAnn shared her experience with the “complexities of public access,” noting she had tried to get Mahaulepu protected via the Trust for Public Land, but “the community was ambivalent, afraid it would get overrun by tourists if it was turned into a park, discovered and on the map.” So TPL acquired 130 acres by the Kilauea lighthouse instead.

Some of the concerns about access need to addressed by the general plan,” JoAnn said. “It's about the carrying capacity of this island, the resident and visitor population.” She spoke of the halcyon days when Kauai had just 30,000 residents and unrestricted beach access.

Now we have a clash of cultures, people with different values, and some of them don't fully appreciate the local culture or the Native Hawaiian culture,” she said. "Public access when not well managed is a double-edged sword."

Councilman Tim Bynum noted Kahuaina Plantation was supposed to be the county's last agricultural subvision. “The General Plan in 2000 told us to end this practice. But we're still creating these mansions in isolated communities with people pretending they're farming.”

Ben Ferris testified that he has a five-year lease on 10 acres there, where he grows ginger. He said a new water line is being installed, which he thinks seems to the permanence of farming.

Falko attorney Dennis Lombardi said that as each lot is sold, the owner will be subject to the caveat and requirement to engage in active farming for revenue to satisfy the farm dwelling agreement. “We have no mansions, but we have a farm,” he said.

Mmmm, yeah, but no lots have been sold, so nobody has had a chance to build a mansion yet.

Earlier this month, Shawn posted this ad in The Garden Island:
Councilman Mason Chock said that "eliminating people is just kind of stopping what is inevitable because people are going to find a way to get there. It's about education. There is a way. It's the mind set we're working against. It's not whether we should block people off or not."

The Council plans an April 30 site visit to the property to check out the proposed access.


Anonymous said...

Its Too bad Mahaulepu wasn't protected because its discovered already.

Anonymous said...

The greed for money and power is breaking down all the protections for the Ag zoned lands. Just yesterday Common Ground was granted a liquor license with dancing and live entertainment. The restaurant was granted a special use permit with the restriction that the restaurant be secondary to the agricultural operation on that property. Anyone that goes there can clearly see that there is no AG operation. Local farmers and Esaki's Produce tucks supply their veggies. The entire 46 acres is now on the market for $10 million. Which farmer can buy that and generate income from farming?
Enforcement of laws, restrictions, and regulations is not something the Planning Department does unless there is some political axe to grind. Will we be reading about the hairdresser cum inspector supervisor soon? Thanks for posting the Dreck From the Depos.

Anonymous said...

nsiLink ZedekiahThe Basic Principle of Economics in Capitalism is PROFIT!


Anonymous said...

Some day a reasonable person will figure out, that market value of any land on Kauai makes Ag financially impossible.
It is a good dream, but someday reality may poke your mirage. Hobby farms or farms underwritten by residential real estate is the only way Ag can happen.
The same economics apply to Malibu, Rancho Santa Fe and other vegan heavens. It is all talk by unicorn seekers.

Anonymous said...

9:37 Do you thinks we should just sit back and let this island become just a second home location for millionaires? Do you think we should continue to permit the CPR ing and fake farm subdivisions of Ag zoned land? The system in place is working so poorly that maybe we should discontinue all land use controls and get rid the permitting department.

Food security seems like reason enough to protect Ag land for food production. Being on an island in one of the most remote locations on earth and only producing 10% of the food consumed here seems foolishly reckless. When there is a famine, supply lines get shorten or cut completely. Unsustainable lifestyles could stop suddenly. You are the unicorn dreamer if you think it could not happen.

Tax unproductive Ag land at the highest rates and highly productive food production at the lowest rate. Then the owners will either get serious with farming or dump their property onto the real estate market and the prices will drop to a level that makes farming profitable.

Anonymous said...

Would you folks prefer poor people move to Kauai ? People are going to keep coming here...I say the richer and smarter the better.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for covering this, Joan. Clint Bettencourt is misquoting me. I never said it is my sacred trail. I have said it is an ancient trail,a public trail, a cultural by-way, that pre-dates the 1892 Highways Act. I have quoted the state, saying that Hawaii holds the alaloa in Fee Simple. For the Public, not just Mr. Bettencourt. Or the other folks who have keys to Waipake gates. Guess Mr. Bettencourt didn't care that the kuleana were erased, homogonized and spit out with lo`i as luxury residences. Guess as long as he can get concrete to the reef to secure pole holders, its traditional.

For the county not to provide beach access because alleged people have gotten naked or the trail may bring those who might be naked, is absurd. Prohibiting access does not eliminate nudity. Complicating access enables non-Family Friendly beaches.

There could be 400 people living on these 2 Kahu`Aina Subdivisions after buildout. What happens if Kahu`Aina sells to Europeans who might get naked on the beach, or topless?

Accepting this project with the beach access ending 580' from the beach is absurd. So is accepting beach access without groundtruthing with a site visit. The public Parking Lot size and location have not been designated, yet, over 6 years into the project. There is no turn lane planned for the highway. This project will have serious impacts on our community, but they think they are a good "Corporate Citizen".

Mahalo again for covering Falko's luxury subdivision projects planned for on agricultural, SMA and conservation lands.

Hope Kallai

Anonymous said...

I love how those without property are so quick to cry "greed" when, without a doubt, if they owned a house or land and sold it, they would do it at the highest price possible. Crying "greed" is pure hypocrisy and merely reveals the falsehood of the have not.

Anonymous said...

8:56 Asking the market value when selling is normal. Subdividing Ag zoned land into luxury home sites because the banana republic government is too short sited to prevent it is GREED.

Anonymous said...

Excuse me Anonymous 8:56, how do you know who has property and who does not?

The issue is appropriate use of dwindling agricultural land and water.

Anonymous said...

Greed is one of our human characteristics that has always existed no matter who or where you are. It will exist far into the future because it's justifies human existence and GREED undeniably WORKS

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed the picture of the posted sign calling for non-GMO, no pesticide organic farming. Getting picky on top of everything... Imagine a real agribusiness on ag lots! Clearly the sign was written by somebody who's not a farmer, will need to explain that organic farming uses pesticides too. But that would spoil the bucolic image that internet/armchair farmers have of agriculture!

Anonymous said...

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's needs, but not every man's greed. - Mahatma Gandhi

Anonymous said...

"..some of them don't fully appreciate the local culture or the Native Hawaiian culture,” she said. Thatʻs right, Joanne, you lead the pack. And please Joanne, I am so glad that you have recently discovered the termilogy: ʻcarrying capacityʻ. Will that only be applied to something like beaches or will you ʻthinkʻ about doing the hard work on traffic and grossly exceeded carrying capacities.
Hot air. She should just shut up and collect her ill-gotten paycheck.

Whatever the thief, Falco, says is irrelevant.

Anonymous said...

If someone wants to try to build a small organic farm, let them.

I'm sick of big Ag lies and its clever lobbyists calling it farming. Wall Street, Defense Contractors, Big Ag. They all the same. Dirty, vote buying, life killing profit factories.

Anonymous said...

Take whatever path they give, say thank you, and move on. It's Falko land, not ours.
The way we treat the big land owners guarantees they will be less likely to do what is best for the island and people.
In the old days, no whining, no demands, no lawsuits, no threats and access was left open.
Many of Kauai's beaches are landlocked. Big land owners have the beaches, interior lands, control future roads and water sources. It would be a smart idea to involve them in civil conversation. Otherwise everything can be locked up for decades waiting for condemnation etc.
Most of the big owners I know, want what is right for the public and Kauai.
Upfront honest conversations with the political powers could have all the access/public details worked out in advance and make a project reach completion faster. Best for everyone. But as we know, honesty is not a real expectation from a couple on the Council.
The smarmy politicos run these guys over the coals. Lombardi was right, give ONLY what the law requires. Everyone knows who the hypocritical "I Hate Big" council members are, get rid of them and watch access open up.

Anonymous said...

Councilman Tim Bynum said, “The General Plan in 2000 told us to end this practice. But we're still creating these mansions in isolated communities with people pretending they're farming.”

Really Tim? Didn't you have a rental on ag land that you generated income from? You haven't farmed on your ag lot so you have no room to talk about anyone. You may have won your insurance settlement, but that doesn't take away the fact that you violated the law.

Anonymous said...

If the law means that you cannot rent your extra bedroom to you kids friend, it should be ignored.

Tim Bynum said...

Councilman Tim Bynum said, “The General Plan in 2000 told us to end this practice. But we're still creating these mansions in isolated communities with people pretending they're farming.”

Yes i learned about ag subdivision when I bought one in 2000. All I knew was it was a lot for sale, we found out later, like a lot of new owners, about the farm dwelling agreement joke.. For the record I never did anything illegal at my home ever. That is not my opinion that was the legal conclusion at both the planning department and the Court. I built a mother in law unit, permitted and inspected by the County. My kids, grandkids and elderly father used it. Later the rooms were rented (well below market rate) to a close family friend. That person used the one and only kitchen in our home. There are hundreds of similar Mother-in-law units on Kauai. You can see them listed in the MLS everyday. Housing is difficult for working people on Kauai. Families have to double up, people end up renting rooms in their homes to provide for workforce housing and supplemental income. Its tough to live working class on Kauai. NONE of this is illegal. It is the way things are.

Anonymous said...

Don't criticize Tim. He sold his mansion in the isolated community and didn't even pretend to farm.

Anonymous said...

"I never did anything illegal....none of this is illegal!" Will that be your re-election slogan Mr.Bynum? You sound like Nixon. Shouldn't we expect higher standards from our elected representatives?

You cost the County $750K in legal fees and took a $290K payment-that's $1 million that could have been used to feed the homeless or pay for essential services. Public service sure pays well theses days! If you were really "for the people," you would donate the $290K to the food bank.

Regarding your ' not illegal' AG subdivision, WHAT KIND OF FARMING ARE YOU DOING? Didn't you sign an AG agreement?