12 myths about developmentTo the Forum:

Myth #1: “Environmental protection hurts the economy.” Fact: When a Bank of

America study reveals that economies of states on the Mainland with high

environmental standards grow consistently faster than those with week

environmental regulations, it is time for us to sit up and take note.


is one of the many research conclusions summarized in a book by Eben Fodor

titled “Better Not Bigger.” I report on some of these findings as well as my

own, since some of the Planning Commissioners, in particular, don’t seen to

have the time to keep up with the latest research in their field.

In fact,

there are two prevailing attitudes now on Kaua’i. One says that sustainable

development is our only sane choice. The other says:

Myth #2: “Development

is inevitable, so why shouldn’t I cash in on it as much as I can?”


There are dozens of municipalities that have capped their population or rate of

growth by legal regulations based on real environmental limits and the real

cost of growth to their communities.

Kaua’i is in the national spotlight

as having the greatest number of endangered species, or extinct species per

land area of any place in the USA. It is also becoming known as having one of

the weakest government leaderships in the conservation area.

Myth #3:

“Growth provides needed tax revenues.” Fact: Generally, the larger the city,

the higher the taxes to pay for all the public services. Fodor notes that

growth rarely pays it’s own way.

Myth #4: “We have to grow to provide

jobs.” New jobs rarely go to the local population. New jobs usually attract new

residents from elsewhere. There is no significant difference in unemployment

between the 25 fastest growing and 25 slowest growing US cities.

Myth #5:

“We must subsidize business growth to have good jobs.”

Fact: Based on a US

Chamber of Commerce survey, states with the best business ratings actually have

slower growth in per capita incomes than those with the worst. Why? Probably

because “best business ratings” equals investing in business, not in


Myth #6: “If we limit growth, housing prices will shoot up.”

Fact: A 1992 study of 14 California cities, half with strong growth controls

and half with none, showed no difference in average housing prices. Some cities

with strong growth controls had the most affordable housing because they had

active low-cost housing programs.

Isn’t this a model that we on Kaua’i

should be considering? I wonder if some Planning Commissioners have any idea

what ‘growth control’ means practically. Please help educate them before it is

too late.

Myth #7: “If you don’t like growth, you are a NIMBY (not in my

back yard), an ANTI (against everything) or want to pull up the bridge after

you get here.”

Fact: Such name calling tries to hide the fact that people

who want to save the island from unsustainable development are usually

community-minded, not selfish, and offer their time voluntarily out of deep

concern for all the irreversible damage that unsustainable development


Myth #8: “Most people don’t support environmental protection.”

Fact: (Politicians take note!) Fodor cites polls from all over the country,

including country-wide polls: Those who favor environmental quality over

further economic growth almost always top 70 percent. This means that a small

group is more interested in quick, personal profit than in the protection of

long-term public assets, like the beauty and ecology of the island.


the people must take responsibility to make sure that government follows the

will of the people before our remaining resources are squandered. We have weak

laws to protect against exploitation and weak government will to enforce

protective laws.

Myth #9: “We have to grow or stagnate.”

Fact, from

many studies: Many kinds of growth cost more than the benefits they bring. The

more growth, the poorer we get (note inner cities).

Myth #10: “Vacant land

just goes to waste.”

Fact: Studies from all over show that open land pays

far more in property tax then it costs in services. Open land has many other

benefits: It cleans the air, absorbs floods, harbors wildlife, saves views and

sanity, etc. It also increases the value of land next door.

Myth #11:

“Beauty is no sound basis for policy.”

Fact: Our industry is dependent

directly on the beauty, wildness, remoteness and authenticity of Kaua’i. Only a

foolhardy government would not protect and preserve into perpetuity this most

fundamental foundation of our primary industry.

Myth #12:

“Environmentalists are just another special interest.”

Fact: A developer

profiting from a project is a special interest. A citizen with no financial

stake is fighting for the public interest and the environmental interest. A

viable biosphere is in everybody’s interest and the environmental interest.

Can we help government to switch from self-serving myths to facts? Only

when we all know what the facts are and insist that government stick to them.

Apathy results from government getting away with a policy of myths. This is

your government.

Arius Hopman, Businessman



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