Thursday, January 29, 2009


THEY CAN’T DREAM WELL BECAUSE OF THEIR HORNS: You gotta wonder sometimes what’s going on in the heads of some of the top Kaua`i activists.

A lot of them worked their butts off to gather petition signatures to put a measure on the ballot and campaigned hard to pass a Charter amendment last fall

But since then the silence about enforcing it has been deafening. Other than our two columns last year on the implications and last week on the council’s attempts to bury the matter in executive session no one has heard a peep from anyone either verbally or in print about the law that essentially bans the planning commission from processing and issuing visitor accommodation permits and puts that onus on the county council... at least for now.

Fast forward to today, almost three months after passage and many of the self same activists just tried to slow down or stop a new resort in traffic-plagued overdeveloped Kapa`a, not by citing the new amendment but by continuing a legal battle- one they apparently lost- to require an environmental assessment on the project at a planning commission meeting Tuesday.

The silence was finally broken, not by the dozens who filed past the commission to testify, but when local newspaper reporter Michael Levine dared breach the subject in his Wednesday report on the meeting.

Levine’s a pretty sharp cookie and it must have occurred to him to question it too because after describing all the complicated legal wrangling over the case he wrote:

While Tuesday’s vote appears to be the commission’s final act on the two developments, it could also be one of the last major development applications for tourist accommodations to be heard by the body for some time.

On Nov. 4, voters approved a charter amendment essentially transferring the power to approve permits for tourist accommodations to the County Council upon a two-thirds affirmative vote of the council and allowing the council, if it enacts a rate-of-growth limit that is consistent with the General Plan, to delegate the approval authority to the Planning Commission. How, and when, the council assumes control remains up in the air.

“There’s an urgency for us to get clarity in the legal interpretations,” said Councilman Jay Furfaro, chair of the council’s Planning Committee, adding there is a “series of interpretations” the council must make, such as whether the growth rate is tied to a unit count or, as in the General Plan, to a daily census number of visitors.

“We’re in uncharted territory,” said Councilman Tim Bynum, who said he understands the intent of the new legislation, but is unclear on “the interpretations of what the law means and how we implement that appropriately. I don’t have a good answer. I don’t know at this point. I’m not an attorney and I’m not a planner.”

It appears the oft-times dunderhead Bynum and the disingenuously arrogant Furfaro are apparently unable to read for themselves because no matter what process the council chooses to deal with permits themselves the amendment is clear in that it is the council, not the planning commission, that must process and approve permits.

Though we were stymied after an hour of trying to find a copy of the apparently-purged wording of the amendment at the county’s web site, fortunately Island Breath’s Juan Wilson had archived a copy because, even during the election campaign season last year he had been unable to locate an on-line version.

Though the amendment leaves the details up to the council to “adopt such ordinances, laws, rules and regulations as are necessary to carry out the terms and intent of this amendment to the Charter” one thing is clear- the power of permitting no longer rests with the planning commission and has been transferred to the council which may reassign the power to the commission after meeting some requirements that, though clear, throw a money-wrench into the governmental cogs..

The very first sentence of the new charter section- which along with the others passed in 2008 (and even those approved in 2006 for that matter) are still not part of the version of the charter posted at the county web site- begins by saying: :

The power to process and to issue any zoning, use, subdivision, or variance permit for more than one transient accommodation unit shall be vested in and exercisable exclusively by the council.

What kind of “legal interpretation” does Furfaro need to read and understand that? What trouble does Bynum have understanding “what the law means”.

It’s their job to write laws. One would think they could read it.

Never has the “what are you stupid or do you think we are” conundrum been more clearly elucidated

But we expect this kind of behavior from Kaua`i councilpersons. What is flabbergasting is that people who have invested time and money fighting all sorts of actions by the commission since November have not even mentioned the fact that the commissioners have no business processing these things in the first place by putting them on their agenda.

Chalk it up once again to Minotaurs like Furfaro and Bynum who join Chair Kaipo Asing, Planning Director Ian Costa, Mayor Bernard Carvalho and the others in county government who join the chorus singing “we’ll do what’s wrong as long as we can”

And as to the activists who seem to have the attention span of a gnat even when it was through their stupendous efforts that the law was enacted, we have to ask once again as manager Casey Stengel asked of the ’62 Mets, “can’t anyone here play this game/”


awolgov said...

How would you have proposed applying the new charter amendment in the recent planning commission hearings when it has to pass through the council first?

And looking at this sad council, whoʻs expecting it to get past the illegal obstructionism of the little king?

awolgov said...

By the way, Andy...
I know itʻs frustrating but you really shouldnʻt be taking out your wrath on the ʻactivistsʻ.

They arenʻt getting paid. Doing the best they can without legal expertise, time and most times money.

So, please save the criticism for the ones that deserve it = the menacing dunces that think they should hold seats of power.