POSTED: 18 May 2006 - 1:30pm

Letters to TGI editor examine development

Limahuli Valley, where there was a self sustaining economy on Kauai before it was "discovered"

(Editor's note: the following three letters were recently spotted in The Garden Island News. Sounds like the good guys are in the majority.)

Stop making excuses and save Kaua‘i
by Gordon Oswald in Kealia 18 May 2006 in The Garden Island News

I read with amazement Jay Furfaro’s May 14 article entitled “Seeking Solutions”. Until that article I didn’t realize how ineffective and leaderless this county council is. The entire article was presented to make excuses for the disastrous amount of development choking Kaua‘i. Excuses only help those that make them, Mr. Furfaro. You stated, and I quote, “For the most part, what we are seeing today are the end results of existing zoning that was put in place many years ago.” He then goes on to explain that the fault lies with decisions made 25 years ago. You had 25 years to stop it!!! Who wants to hear a leader say, “It’s not my fault,” “Don’t blame me,” “They did it,” “There’s nothing I could do.” He then goes into a feeble attempt to characterize zoning as if it were the only barrier to development. You then go on to state this council has achieved great things by building bypass roads. You’re a genius, councilor! Just what Kaua‘i needs, more roads open for development ie. Calvary Church! You obviously do not have the talent, skills, or ability to lead your people and protect this jewel we live on. Leaders do not point the finger! They find solutions and make it happen.

There are numerous ways to stop development. Find one!!! In California they formed a coastal commission to curtail development along the coast. If a developer wanted to develop and the commission didn’t feel it was in the best interest of the environment, they just said “no.” Create a county equivalent. Make developers do exhaustive traffic impact studies through independent planners, and if they can’t prove not one car will be added to our already choking roads, turn them down. Get rid of the existing rubber-stamp planning commission and replace them with people who have a vision for keeping Kaua‘i beautiful, instead of working overtime to create a Honolulu- or Maui-type mess. Kaua‘i is in a state of emergency! Your article was an insult to the intelligence of your constituents.

Mr. Furfaro, if you, the council and our mayor spent as much time and the people’s money getting rid of the planning commission as you are in your ridiculous attempt to get rid of our police chief, or suing the people who elected you to frustrate their vote on property tax relief, you would be making a real difference.

Instead, you’re playing politics while Kaua‘i burns. I have never been so disgusted with whining, fingerpointing, excuse-making dolts as I am with you. I have over 4,000 distributors in my companies and I know them all. I’ve gotten to the point that I can recognize a leader very quickly. I’m sorry, Kaua‘i, but your current group of politicians is leaderless. JoAnn Yakimura has the skills, but so many years in politics have killed the warrior and vision she had as a young lawyer fighting to keep Kaua‘i beautiful. We need you back!

The best solution? In November replace every existing politician we have. There is no way we could do any worse than what we have now. Even if we elected Bozo the Clown.

(Editor's note: see letter below that this letter answers)
Mr. Godes, “Time for Discourse” IS rhetoric
Jeff Hayes in Princeville on 18 May 2006 in The Garden Island News

In response to Stan Godes’ letter this past Thursday, let me say....BS.
Although well thought out, beautifully articulated, and good use made of that “Vocabulary Word for the Day Toilet Paper,” Mr. Godes misses the point entirely.
Yes, I live in Princeville. But accusing one who lives in Princeville as the pot calling the kettle black is a ridiculous and argumentative attack. This island is a development, Mr. Godes. Furthermore, if we cannot learn from the mistakes of the past, are we not destined to repeat them? The “I got mine — to heck with anyone else” line is not only combative but erroneous.

Let me say that you’ve missed the entire point of my letter to the editor. I am NOT anti-tourism, NOT anti-affordable housing, NOT a throwback, dirt-head that wants to bring the island back to what it was. Those days are gone. But to suggest that we have some intelligent discourse on the future of resort/vacation rental development on this island is what we’ve BEEN doing. Where’ve you been?

Intelligent discourse on the island of Kaua‘i has amounted to little more than a shell game.

I remind you that while the island is increasing in visitor popularity, the vacation rental industry maintains far below a maximum occupancy rate. That includes resorts & hotels, vacation rental condos & homes, as well as B & B’s. You think we need MORE?

If the county Planning Commission is going to approve any more development at all, it should be for residents, with an emphasis on affordable housing. How are we to accomplish this when speculators are spending $400K on condos during the planning stages, and then flipping them for $800K a year later? You’re suggesting we have some intelligent discourse on that? Get serious. There’s no such thing as moderation once saturation has occurred.

And good for you with throwing in the towel on the education of our youth! What do you mean “for whom will these executives perform their services?” In your own words, “our county administration spends hundreds of thousands of dollars a year on outside consultants.” Hey, I know, maybe they could spend the money HERE if there were qualified, educated people to spend it on. I don’t know any society or community who doesn’t need more accountants, more doctors, more lawyers and more professionals. Sounds to me like you’d rather us all shoot for the stars and become hospitality industry personnel — making beds, sweeping corridors and cleaning toilets. Way to go!

Look, all I’m saying is if we don’t learn from the past, we’re going to repeat it. Yes, tourism is our main source of economic income, but when there are vacancies all over this island, and we continue to build more and more, what good is it? If we’re going to build, build something that will add to the quality of life for the residents. You know, Stan, I don’t know how happy the tourists would be 10 years from now if they showed up for their lovely, aloha-filled vacation, only to greeted by a bunch of angry, bitter people that have had their choices greatly diminished by the industry they’ve helped to foster.

No one ever said or asserted that this island could be self-sustaining. We rely on a lot of products, goods and services from off-island to keep our lives going forward. But we have an obligation to be the BEST we can be, and to be responsible for ourselves and our children, given our limitations. We have enough of an uphill battle, Mr. Godes. Perhaps you should consider giving a hand up, instead of adding more rungs to the ladder.

(Editor's note: Mr Godes should look at the image of Lumahuli Valley above)
Development issues in need of discourse

by Stan Godes in Hanalei on 16 May 2006

There have been many letters lately demanding the end of all development on our island. No one wants to see rampant development, and we all suffer from the same traffic problems, but realistically, in order to support our island life and provide a place for our young, we must either expand reasonably or wither on the vine.

One of the letter writers gives his address as Princeville. This is much like the pot calling the kettle black. Many here can remember how nice it was on the North Shore before the dreaded developers got their hands on Princeville. In those days one could drive to Lihu‘e without passing another car, and there was one traffic light on the island (on a cane haul road). Somebody who lives in Princeville and calls for the end of all development is saying ‘I got mine — to heck with anyone else.’

Another letter writer talks of training our youth to be accountants, doctors, lawyers and other highly paid professions. A noble goal but for whom will these executives perform their services? Our island is not, nor is it likely ever to be, self-sufficient. It will be many years before renewables make a dent in our energy imports. Our county administration spends hundred-of-thousands of dollars a year on outside consultants. A quick stroll through the supermarket shows how much of our food comes from off island — yet no mention is made of low paying farming jobs for our youth. We are unlikely to ever have a factory to make cars, TVs, or even iPods. To get to the real basics of life, remember how stocks of toilet paper disappear from island shelves at the mere mention of a dock strike.

Since we must pay for all this imported stuff, as well as the costs to bring it here, we need a source of outside money. As near as I can tell, there are only three ways to get it. The ideal source of money would be exports to offset the imports. Our classic export product, sugar, has lost out to cheaper producers elsewhere and newer agricultural products such as coffee and papayas will never come close to matching the sugar revenue. One potential agricultural export, GM seeds, is vilified by a large and vocal contingent on our island that will surely make the seed companies reluctant to invest in our island economy. Manufactured exports are an even less likely source of income since we have a dearth of raw materials. The high cost of transporting components and finished products along with much lower labor costs elsewhere would seem to be severely limiting factors.

A second source of outside money is the military and its payroll. The military’s presence is not without cost to our lifestyle and many of the anti-development people are equally anti-military activity of any kind.

Which leaves tourism, the traditional kind, as well as eco-tourism and health-tourism, to patronize all those doctors we will train. It would seem to be inescapable, no matter how much we might wish otherwise, that tourism will remain the primary source of off-island dollars needed to support our need for toilet paper. Yes, tourists cause problems. But killing the goose that lays the golden egg is not the answer. We need rational development at a pace we can live with. Besides tourist-oriented development, we also need to increase the amount of local housing by rezoning and refining our building codes to make it possible to actually build affordable homes. We have had enough rhetoric — now we need to have some give and take discourse.

see also
Island Breath: Large Scale Plans for Kauai