Monday, January 18, 2010


ANOTHER STEAMING PILE ON THE BIKE PATH: When confronted with government snow-jobs we’ve often asked “what are we- a bunch of freakin’ idiots”.

The answer this weekend is apparently yes because somehow many if not most of the people opposing putting the bike path on a boardwalk on Wailua Beach are apparently convinced that the “new alignment”- craftily announced by Mayor Bernard Carvalho and his “brains”, Beth Tokioka- will no longer be on the beach but on the highway.

Apparently that is a bunch of shibai.

The only thing that has changed is that the path will now be a permanent strip of concrete rather than the “removable boardwalk” that was originally put in place because a permanent sidewalk on the beach would have been considered a “hardening of the shoreline” requiring an almost impossible to obtain Army Corps of Engineers permit.

The first step in the misdirection came in the form of the local newspaper’s Friday article faithfully rehashing the carefully written county release.

The headline falsely stated “Mayor shifting path from beach to highway” and the article doesn’t refute that statement.

A careful examination of the county press release shows that it never actually states that the new “alignment” will not be on the beach. And actually, if you read between the lines, it says it will.

The relevant portions of the release says:

(T)he proposed alignment for the Wailua Beach section will be shifted from the beach to the right-of-way on the makai side of Kūhi‘ō Highway...

(T)he mayor told the groups (he met with Friday), “As a result of all of the input we’ve received, I’ve decided to move forward on a makai alignment, keeping the path within the Kūhiō Highway right-of-way.”...

In the new design, the existing rock wall will be removed and a replacement barrier will be constructed as an integral part of the path.

“We are hopeful that this adjustment addresses many of the concerns raised by the community,” said the mayor...

In aligning the path within the highway right-of-way, the path will be constructed of concrete at a depth of just 18 inches, even shallower than that of the adjacent roadway.

“There will be no additional drilling or ‘augers’ required,” said Building Division Superintendent Doug Haigh.

Notice how it sounds like it is going to be where the highway pavement and wall are currently located. Nowhere does it say it will not be on the beach anymore, only that “there will be no additional drilling or ‘augers’ required”.

The article in the local newspaper is careful not to say what the headline does and does not make clear where exactly it will be but it does contain the first hint that all may not be as it appears.

Way down towards the end Mike Levine- who may or may not have written the headline but was not at the Friday meeting where the Mayor announced the “change”, according to participants- reports:

(I)t’s still on the beach,” Judy Dalton said Friday evening.“As long as it’s still on the beach, we feel that the alternate route described in the environmental assessment as one of the three alternatives ... on the canal behind Coco Palms would be the least impactful, environmentally and culturally,” Dalton said.

According to some who attended the meeting Friday at which Carvalho “met with representatives of several Hawaiian groups” according to the county release, the issue of exactly where the path would be was presented in a manner seemingly designed to make the matter “as clear as mud”.

Some of the confusion centered around the use of the word “shoulder” which many took to mean the paved shoulder off the highway itself but still on the paved portion- a “shoulder” currently used for a “bike lane”.

But upon questioning it became apparent that the shoulder the officials were talking about was the “soft” shoulder adjacent to the paved portion defining the “shoulder” they were talking about as “where the pavement ends”.

Another key in the misdirection is that it may well be that the state’s “right of way” is not limited to the paved highway itself with part of it extending onto the beach. Although the exact location is not addressed in either the article or the press release, the “on the right of way” statement has led many to believe that the “right of way” mentioned as the location of the realignment was on the paved highway itself.

Looking at two maps on the county web site is a joke. Both are crisscrossed with seemingly meaningless, unlabeled lines all over the place with no clearly marked “new alignment” much less the old one.

As if to prove the extent to which the public has been duped, a letter to the editor appeared over the weekend from one of those who has been calling on the mayor to change the alignment to get it off the beach.

What with the headline in the paper and the carefully parsed county release it’s understandable that Jimmy Trujillo wrote:

The mayor’s decision to stay off the sand but stay on the roadside is a compromise that warrants support.

It may be one of the few times in the short time I’ve lived on Kaua`i that a government leader has demonstrated any kind of respect to the kupuna leaders and cultural practitioners of the host culture.

The first irony in all this is that a perfectly good bike path exists right now on the makai side of the highway on the pavement- the spot many are erroneously thinking the “new alignment” would put the path.

The problem is that there’s only so much room to put the new four lane highway and for some reason the county has never pursued acquiring land on the mauka “Coco Palms” side of the highway despite the countless permits and extensions issued to the land owners

The second is that the concept of a “removable” boardwalk came about precisely because a permanent concrete sidewalk on the beach would have been an approval nightmare with not just the Army Corp but various state and county agencies who were sold the idea on the basis of a removable boardwalk, not a permanent concrete ribbon.

The county recently passed a bill exempting itself from our “strictest in the nation” shoreline setback laws under some circumstances. Changes in the path should trigger a new “certified shoreline” especially considering that waves commonly deposit sand on the highway during large storms.

Going back to the original unacceptable concrete-on-the-beach idea reminds us of the joke about the guy who eats at Luigi’s Italian restaurant every day and with his meal he is served two slices of Italian bread.

“Luigi” he asks “What’s with the two slices- how come your so stingy with the beard every day”.

The next day Luigi serves him four slices and the man still isn’t happy and wants more. The next day Luigi gives him six and the man still complains.

Finally the next day Luigi takes the whole Italian loaf and slices it down the center the long way and serves it to his customer.

The man looks at Luigi and says “What, Luigi- you’re back to the two slices. eh?”

Can’t anyone here play this game?

1 comment:

Joan Conrow said...

As a friend who has been following this issue closely noted in forwarding your post to me, "He got it!"

Good work, Andy.