Wednesday, February 27, 2008


THE FARMERS’ BEST FRIEND: One would think that the Ag subdivision moratorium bill that the Kaua`i County Council was set to kill today was the most important piece of legislation to hit the Council floor since the big box bill, judging by the dozens emails and blog postings over the last few days

Actually the bill has farm truck sized loopholes and, like the feel-good Kawakami Memorial Anti-Wal-Mart bill fails to do anything that Mayor Bryan couldn’t tell his made-man Planning Director Ian Costa to do administratively.

But unlike the previously proliferating Pandora’s Products there aren’t a lot of ag subdivisions going through right now, not that Grove Farm isn’t smacking their lips over the “important ag lands” study a-comin.

Today was also the day that the Council was to hear a presentation on the “Sustainability 2050” program and the day after the Planning Commission’s approval of a plan to grow a fast-growing, known-invasive-species Albezius bean-trees to produce electricity from it’s wood chips and grow it on the best prime ag land on the island.

Also over the last few days a couple of columns and letters to the local newspaper about our secretive electric Co-op, KUIC and their election with Big Save Owner Derrick Kawakami, who has “taken out paper” to run for Council, pleading to re-elect the apparently ineffective current board rather than a tag team of Apollo’s top man Ben Sullivan and local “Green Economist” Ken Stokes.

So what do all these have to do with each other? Plenty if you delve into the devilish details of each.

The “temporary” halt in ag subdivisions doesn’t really address the problem which is the exemptions from the “one-time-rule” for ag subdivisions on Kaua`i,. by law and administrative rule. The exemptions that one can apply for to the Planning Commission is still possible under the law as originally proposed last year upon mandatory referral by the council.

The bill is designed to be in effect until the highly-anticipated, State-mandated “identification of important ag lands” study. .

Despite attempt to allay everyone’s fear when it was ordered it has proved true... by identifying important agricultural parcels it by definition identified unimportant ones those subject to the executioners development. chopping block, never to be seen in nature again.

Council Planning Committee Chair JoAnn Yukimura helped pass the State law telling constituents not to worry- no one was calling any ag lands important as did every legislator on Kaua`i who spoke of it to us.

But at the 2/13/08 meeting of Yukimura’s Committee she apparently changed her mind. After saying how the study would determine if some ag lands were “inappropriately zoned” she said “we will figure out that some lands may not be designated agricultural appropriately any more” clearing the way to move what has been estimated as anywhere between 50-80% of all ag lands into residential and/or urban use..

Just yesterday the Planning Commission okayed a plan to grow Albezius tress for energy on prime ag land in a secretly-price agreement with KIUC. Despite protestations from the Farm Bureau and the current farmers on Kaua`i it went through the Planning Commission with a slice of the very best ag land here going to forestry.

It’s surprising that with alternative fuels driving ethanol-producing grain and sugar prices through the roof the fuel-growers- and those State and County planners who regulate them - don’t look to those “hard to farm” ag lands before they put a forest in a previously big-producing farmland.

The question that makes environmentally concerned people grimace when they think about ethanol and bio diesel is not just the lack of carbon neutrality but it’s the driving upward of food prices as they are tied more and more to fuel prices, sometimes to the point where oil could remain relatively cheap as soon as the cycle battles between food vs. fuel play out to some kind of stability.

For an small island in the middle of the ocean to grow it’s fuel so that it doesn’t interfere with the food that is needed to achieve any self-sufficient sustainability there’s gotta be a lot of growing space. Cellulose based fuel crops like switch grass and even wood chips- can be grown on any ag land, whether marginal or not

Will Yukimura well- known “Davis, California vision” of creating little walkable communities play out on those “unimportant” ag lands?

With one hand the County planning to get rid of the marginal ag lands, on another it’s giving away prime ag land to grow bio-fuel crops that can be grown on the marginal ag lands. And the electric co-op is secretly making deals for the latter expecting an ever increasing stream of population as those disposable farms disappear down the cul-de-sac.

Oh, I forgot...late last night I heard the screen door slam.


Anonymous said...

interesting posts to the gi news regarding the kiuc elections and the secret negotiations for fuel prices. as one scribe pointed out, didn't derick kawakami violate bod policy when he spoke in favor of re electing the incumbants? is this the type of leadership we should expect/accept from kiuc bod members? future council members? he lost my vote; we don't need no brown nosing ass kissin next generation leadership. we have enough of that already!

Anonymous said...

Did you really expect Derek Kawakami to be anything more than the family business' representative?

Dennis Esaki makes his money working for the big landowners and developers and is part of the local political machine that has run this place for decades.

Phil Tacbian is clearly part of the old time machine -- Akaka's rep, water boards etc etc.

Peter Yukimura = Koa Trading. Old time family name as well.

Judge Laureta -- when he's awake, he's clearly part of the old boy system.

Allan Smith -- we can only hope that getting pushed out of Grove Farm made him a little less in their sphere of influence.

Dane/David Iha/Oda -- more peas in a pod.

Gardiner/Barnes/Esaki/Kouchi laid down this plantation style oligarchy. Why would anyone wonder at how things are run?