Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Musings: Between the Lines

The Coco Palms developers are in danger of losing their permits. 

At yesterday's Planning Commission meeting, Planning Director Mike Dahilig said it's clear developers will not meet the April 13 deadline of completing demolition within six months of pulling permits, which would put them in violation of one condition of their permit. 

As a commissioner reminded developer Chad Waters: "A lot was given, and with much given, a lot was expected. It was given with the understanding deadlines would be met. So far it hasn't been a very good show on your part."

Waters, doing some really fast talking, said they can't actually do any demolition until they get a loan that will also allow them to actually purchase the project, but if it looks like they might lose a permit, the lender could delay funding. He blamed the holidays — really? — for delays in getting financing. Gee, you'd think Waters would have figured all that in before he pulled the permit.

Anyway, good for Mike for standing firm and saying he will hold the developer to the conditions of the permit. Will the Commission back him up, or let another developer play string along? 

So Gov. Ige is finally feeling enough heat that he brought up air conditioning for schools in his State of the State address. He's promised to use $100 million of Green Energy Market Securitization funds to install energy-efficiency measures and air-conditioning units in classrooms where children need it the most.

However, as our own Mina Morita — former director of the state Public Utilities Commission — notes:

The fund the Gov is using is just a clean energy technology loan program where a/c doesn't qualify in the definition or use. If you read between the lines the money will be used for repairs and upgrades to increase renewables and efficiencies which may include some a/c. It is not a direct commitment to deal with the problem. The only real commitment is if it's included in the general fund budget.

Mina delves into the issue more deeply on her blog, Energy Dynamics. She's running for one of three vacancies on the KIUC board, bringing in an incredible level of expertise that could only benefit co-op members. Watch your mail for ballots, starting in mid-February.

Ige also acknowledged the state erred when it did not follow the law in either the Hawaii Superferry or Thirty Meter Telescope projects.

Yes, and the state also erred in its interpretation of the state shoreline setback laws. Regardless of how you feel about any of those issues, there is a process, and the state needs to follow its own rules.

Speaking of following the rules, the Kauai County Planning Department has hit Bill and Kathy Cowern with a $10,000 fine. The county found the couple's Hale Kua visitor accommodation operation violated the zoning ordinance. According to website, Hale Kua offers four B&Bs and a TVR in the agricultural district, none of them permitted.

Meanwhile, the county Planning Department has again amended the homestay/B&B bill, this time to prohibit such uses outside of the Visitor Destination Area (VDA). The draft bill also would funnel renewal fees into a fund to finance enforcement of transient accommodations.

If the ordinance is ultimately adopted, the two-dozen homestays that have already gotten use permits to operate outside the VDA would not be affected.

The department took the action after the County Council indicated it was heading in that direction, even though Councilmembers Gary Hooser and JoAnn Yukimura continued to argue for allowing such uses outside the VDA. Hooser also supported such uses on ag land.

The Planning Commission held a public hearing on the proposed ordinance yesterday.

In terms of enforcement, Commissioner Wayne Katayama noted that “the fines are pretty modest compared to the daily and weekly rates they're enjoying.” But he also indicated he didn't want the county to spend a lot of time busting people who were in violation because they failed to renew their permits.

Well, that's great, if your intent is to keep the TVR numbers up. But when people have been given a tremendous financial gift, in the form of a use that runs with the land, you'd think they'd be motivated to renew in a timely fashion. If they don't, they're out. Some owners are two and three years behind on renewal. How generous should the county be?


Anonymous said...

Gary Hooser. Savior of agriculture. Yup.

Anonymous said...

It is about time the Planning Department and Council recognizes how detrimental allowing transient uses in the areas zoned for residential and agriculture use is to the island.
And damn, if ain't true, the Coco Palms developers really have no money and were just looking to sell the project. Take away the permits for this travesty, condemn the buildings and fine them big time.

Anonymous said...

Who is going to lend money to "developers" who have no experience developing a resort? The sad part is that the buildings will continue to rot for decades.

Anonymous said...

They cut so much slack for the "haves and kick the "have nots" down the stairs. Class warfare at its best.

Anonymous said...

Am pretty sure Gary was only Councilmember that voted against extending Iniki permits for Coco Palms.

Anonymous said...

There are a LOT of this TVR action going oin in Kokee...why is no one paying attention to that??? I hear people pay as much as 200 dollars a night sometimes more for a dirty dump like so dirty that one soesnt want to sit.....and the microwave is very dirty.......How can this be going on??

Anonymous said...

This TVR action is going wild up in Kokee does not the county have control over that???? I heard a person complaining that they rented a cabin payed 200 dollars a night and when they got there it was nasty and filthy....also have some people using their cabins like time shares......

Anonymous said...

The County gave a gift to the Coco Palms developers. This gift goes to show how f*ing stupid the Planning Dept is. From the get-go, there was NO money for this project. A classic realator trick of getting time to flip. A joke.
The Planning Commissioner Wayne Katayama's comment on the bucks BnBs make is perfect Commie talk. Umm Wayne, taint none of yer beeswax what people make. Your jealously of the these rich haoles is obvious. Every time you comment on these BnBs during Planning Commission meetings, your face constricts into a tightly roasted coffee bean.
Kokee has always run wild with BnBs...and is the Lodge in a TVR district?

The Council should spend more time on controlling their own budget. Tax and spend.
Is there one soul on this island that sees any better service from this County? The budget has doubled in 10 years. The roads are worse, the parks are worse, the dumps are worse...great gawd all mighty...200 million dollars a year spent and few benefits to the people. Our council is intent on taxing and regulating the citizens to a Marxist nirvana. The gang of 4...4 themselves, 4 their friends, 4 no achievements, no goals..4 for nuttin'.

Anonymous said...

I thought Kokee was state so that would be illegal to run a BnB/TVR on state land; wouldn't it?

Anonymous said...

Thank goodness we have some other people here on Kauai paying atttention to what's really going down.

Destroy the good ol boy and girl club or Die trying.

Anonymous said...

Kokee is a Conservation District. The cabins have always been available for rent, but never advertised on AirBNB. It has always been illegal to rent the rest of the cabins, though they can be shared with family and friends. Sounds like some enforcement is needed by the State in Kokee.

Anonymous said...

I know! Put Terry Lilley on it!

Anonymous said...

On the proposal that Governor Ige put forward in air conditioning schools, using the GEMS fund to pay for the installation, etc. The Federal Government, for years, has been "liberally" using funds that were created for specific purposes, to instead fund more general projects. They have done this with competitive grants at least since the beginning of the fiscal crisis in '08. So, to me, the Governor is taking a page out of the Federal playbook in using GEMS money for Air Conditioning retrofits in schools.

Now to see how this chess game is played out, watch the funding bill carefully re-write the focus of GEMS to allow this to happen. We may not see it so up front as in a specific bill, but if there is a will in the Legislature to make it happen, there will be a way.

And then 1,000 classrooms will be air conditioned, or at least that is what the theory holds.