Friday, October 9, 2009


THE CHEESE DEMANDS A LOAN: If you thought the two bills still bottled-up in Councilperson Jay Furfaro’s Kaua`i County Council Planning Committee- the “farm workers” and “vacation rentals on ag land” measures- were not just stomach turning but illegal, you ain’t seen nothin' yet.

The giveaway to residential non “farm dwelling” homeowners- those gentleman farmers who have ravaged the viability of agricultural in the islands by “condominiumizing” ag-zoned lands, jacking up prices way beyond the affordability by legitimate farmers- continued at a public hearing Wednesday on Bill 2322 that would again extend the deadline for building “additional dwelling units” (ADUs)

The original measure was designed to provide family members displaced by the end of the pineapple industry a chance to build an additional house and was supposed to end in five years. But that sunset date has been extended by the council at least five times over the past 25 years according to a planning department staff report on the bill.

Yes the boo-hoo, poor-little-rich-turd, fake-farm crowd once again turned up en masse to ask that the council give them at least five more years- most asking for 10 or 15 or no limit at all- to build these doubly or triply illegal houses because of the “hard times” and difficulty in getting financing. Most of them bemoaned how their speculatory investment they “locked in” last year will go down the drain if the are forced to immediately build what many admitted were rental units, as a “final” sunset bill passed last year required.

For those who haven’t heard about this bit of multi-compounded decades-old blunder, in the early 80’s when the legislature required the counties to grant these “ohana dwellings”- as ADUs were euphemistically called- on certain larger residential lots, then-Councilperson Jimmy Tehada and the development-wild council had the brilliant idea of granting them on ag land even though state law required (and still requires) that all those who build residences on ag land build “farm dwellings” as part of a legitimate farming operation.

But instead of enforcing the state law the council falsely claimed that the “ag condo” problem was a state issue upon which their hands were tied all the while compounding the problem by allowing twice the already finagled “density”.

That density is granted by the council under the county’s comprehensive zoning ordinance (CZO) which gives density to open zoned lands and allows that to be combined with ag land to permit residences on otherwise density-free ag land.

The original ag land ADU law was supposed to “sunset” after five years but every time the deadline came near the council extended it until last year when they finally made all those who wanted to build ADUs on ag land file certain paperwork with the planning department and build the house post haste in the hopes of finally ending the idiocy.

But Furfaro seems hell bent lately on ignoring the requirements for “farm dwellings” and has introduced this third bill to increase density, further driving up ag land prices allowing those non-farmers who have gotten in their paperwork to have five more years to build... or sell it to someone who will before the entitlement disappears.

Yet for many of those who testified, five years weren’t enough- they wanted to lift the time restriction entirely, something the council seemed reticent to do... although who knows. We’ve seen these clowns pander to the moneyed classes in last minute giveaways way to often to trust their mealy-mouthed assertions early in the process.

Unbelievably the stream of owners- all admitting they had bought as an investment or for retirement or for any number of non-farm related reasons- ended with real estate agent Phil Fudge who shed his crocodile tears over losing this absurd little entitlement giveaway and the profits he would make selling it.

Only one person who testified said she wanted to build an additional house for her brother so they could both live and work on their organic farm. The words “farm dwelling”– in fact, other than her, the word “farm”- were not uttered at the hearing.

Meanwhile the farm worker housing bill- a developer’s wet dream with so many loopholes that it could well double the density of ag land- is still in the planning committee awaiting some “tightening up” of the restrictions despite the push by ag condo owner Councilperson Tim Bynum to ram it through and ignore provisions that would allow fake farmers to build who knows how many extra houses on their ag land.

And of course there’s still the almost-impossible-to-count-how-many-ways-it’s-illegal “transient vacation rental on ag land” bill instructing the planning department not to enforce the state law (HRS 205) that clearly mandates that “no overnight accommodations shall be permitted” as part of any “ag tourism plan”- a plan the council has failed to enact.

Furfaro stated that he hopes to rush through the bill with a one-off committee meeting next Wednesday Oct. 14 and final passage the following week on Wed. Oct 21.

And unless people show up and denounce this ugly giveaway that’s most likely exactly what he’s going to do.


KauaiWil said...

Hi, Andy,
I think the Council found out that once you open the box it's almost impossible to get all the creatures back in. The ADU policy has affected many more than the landed rich, being one of the few development-oriented devices that has, to some extent, let smaller "developers" into the picture--let them participate in the boom on a small scale while huge projects were approved for timeshares, hotels, condo developments--all green-lighted by the powers that be. It got out of hand. Coupled with the CPR laws (which Kauai County for years and years did not "recognize"--not sure they do even now), it was an open invitation for many small "developments" to amount to a major thrust in the Kauai economy. It is such a complex picture. Had Kauai approached things more holistically (ha!), and taylored County building procedures, etc., to the new reality so that actual, affordable housing could be provided on ADUs, we might have a bit different picture now. But prices escalated, inevitably (considering the demand for paradise) and, as usual, the little guy could only tag along on the boom. It's a known principle that "money will win," and the national development and real estate burgeoning would have impacted our small island no matter what devices we might have used to control things. Before CPRs there were "land trusts" and "co-tenant agreements" etc. etc., and homes could be extended into multi-family dwellings by simply joining homes at the roof-line so it was one house, and then adding what ever kitchen one wanted to after the inspection. Heck, these days, who needs a kitchen? Refrigerators, counter-top "hot-plates", microwaves and counter-top ovens will suffice and you can put those in a bedroom if you want to. Along with a "wet-bar". All legal. "Farm Dwellings" were never defined, except they were homes build on Ag. land. At one point (and maybe still allowed), you could build bunk-houses and other accommodations for farm workers. Under the farm label you could do about anything, even churches, and stores to sell the produce, even golf courses. (Now there's an agricultural pursuit--the growing of grass! Well, at least they're beautiful and preserve open space, even if the run-off pollutes the oceans.)
What a world!

KauaiWil said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Andy Parx said...

Yes it is a complex situation compounded by years of council inaction and incompetence. But one thing has to be set straight.

Although councilmembers often claim “there is no definition of a farm dwelling” that is patently false. The county has no definition but according to the controlling state law HRS §205-4.5a(4) under “Permissible uses within the agricultural districts”

"(a) Within the agricultural district, all lands with soil classified by the land study bureau's detailed land classification as overall (master) productivity rating class A or B shall be restricted to the following permitted uses:

(4)Farm dwellings, employee housing, farm buildings, or activities or uses related to farming and animal husbandry. "Farm dwelling", as used in this paragraph, means a single-family dwelling located on and used in connection with a farm, including clusters of single-family farm dwellings permitted within agricultural parks developed by the State, or where agricultural activity provides income to the family occupying the dwelling."

If you don’t have a farm and derive income from agricultural activity- meaning you are filing a farm income IRS form - your house is illegal.