As chair of the House Agriculture Committee, Rep. Richard Creagan is systematically undermining farming in the Islands.
Ironically, Creagan is a farmer. But of the well-heeled, gentrified, “made my money elsewhere, don't depend on a harvest to live” variety. Which may explain why he's been pushing measures that over-regulate commercial farmers and allow ag land to be used for purposes other than farming.
Last Friday, his committee passed HB 778, which would allow housing on privately-owned ag lands with a C,D or E classification, and no associated farm use. It's ostensibly intended to promote affordable housing. But the way the bill is written, it's going to result in either more gentrification, ag shanty towns, or a combination of both. Why? Because the bill contains this disturbing line:
the authorization of dwelling units under this paragraph shall not be subject to regulation by a county;
The preamble references the use of water catchment systems and composting toilets to minimize infrastructure costs, and metal roofing and other low-grade building materials to keep construction costs under $100 per square foot.
It also references, ominously, what is perhaps the true motivation for the bill:
On another island, Ireland, agriculture has been supported and enhanced by the on-farm presence of thousands of bed-and-breakfast accommodations and farm-stay units.
Oh, so is that where this is headed? A tool for legitimizing illegal TVRs on ag land? And opening up even more ag land to tourism? It would seem so, given another bill that Creagan co-sponsored promoting “ag commerce” and repealing a law that required counties to adopt ordninances regulating ag tourism. Fortunately, that bill now appears dead.
Curiously, Creagan has been pushing bills advanced by the anti-GMO crowd that give counties home rule in regard to pesticides. But he doesn't want to give counties any say over substandard housing and tourism on ag lands.
As the state Land Use Commission noted in its opposing testimony, HB 778 would impact 91 percent of the state's ag lands:
“With no requirement that such residential dwellings be accessory to agricultural activity; the State Agricultural District will become meaningless."
So you cripple productive “big ag” with unnecessary regulations — pushed by the anit-GMO fear-mongers that Creagan caters to — and then you render the rest of the ag designation meaningless. Who wins? Why the real estate agents, of course.
The state Office of Planning's testimony nailed it:
“Land values would increase due to the residential allowance, making it more costly for farmers to acquire land for agricultural production. Rural sprawl would make it more difficult and costly for the county to provide public services and infrastructure including roads, water, and sewer.”
As Scott Enright, chair of the state Department of Ag, noted in his testimony:
This measure states that single-family dwellings can be built on land classified within the Agricultural District without showing the connection with a farm, or where agricultural activity provides income to the family occupying the dwelling. Long-standing State and County planning and zoning laws are contradicted with this measure and we respectfully ask that this measure be deferred.
The only testimony in support came from Board of Ag member Simon Russell, who also serves on the Hawaii Farmers Union United — an organization comprised primarily of yardners, gentleman farmers and dabblers who produce very little commercial product but are keen to dictate how ag should be done in the Islands. Gee, wonder why they aren't worried about the rising cost of ag land?
According to Big Island video news:
Creagan’s [campaign] website also states that he supports “the emerging role of the Farmer’s Union United as a strong voice for the small farms and family farms of Hawaii. The Farmer’s Union supports the small farmer in competing for land and water with the GMO seed corn companies who contribute nothing to the food needs of Hawaii.”
It's unfortunate that Creagan has bought into this myth. Surely as chair of the Ag committee he should know there are thousands of acres of fallow ag land, just waiting for farmers. So where are they? Why hasn't HFUU produced any?
Creagan and his supporters are also keen to ignore the fact landowners can have their property reclassified into the rural or urban district if they want to develop housing. Passing a bill that opens up virtually all of Hawaii's ag lands to wholesale, uncontrolled development is a travesty — except to the anti-ag/anti-GMO folks who have found in Creagan a champion for their goal of destroying viable farming in the Islands.
On a related note, isn't it a tad inappropriate for Edward G. (Ted) Bohlen, a deputy attorney general assigned to the state Department of Health, and legal counsel for the Hawai'i Environmental Council and Office of Environmental Quality Control, to be advocating on behalf of the Hawaii Center for Food Safety's political action fund?
And finally, KKCR has firmly cemented its role as official Kauai echo chamber with its newest talk show host: failed politician Gary Hooser.
Yes, starting tonight Hooser will have an hour to make any kine, using the taxpayer-funded public airways of Kauai's supposed “community radio station.” It's going to be tough to avoid those prohibited “calls to action” while encouraging listeners to "engage and impact both policy decisions and the political landscape at all levels.” But hey, maybe he'll be the one to finally cause KKCR to lose its license.
In blogging about his new show, Hooser also referenced — without a trace of irony — the KKCR-Kekahu Foundation mission statement. It directs the station to “reflect the diversity of the local and world community...provide a forum for overlooked, suppressed, or under-represented voices.”
Yeah, so let's bring on one more mainland haole repeating more of the same old shit you hear on all the other KKCR shows. The Kauai anti-GMO propaganda machine just keeps on churning....