I would like to respond to Mr. Bruce Fehring’s letter (“May common sense prevail,” Letters, April 3) .
Rather than repeat verbatim Mr. Fehring’s points, I will refer to each specific paragraph of his letter. In order to follow this, I suggest readers refer back to my original piece (“The weather’s always changing, the climate needs stability,” Forum, April 2) and the letter from Mr. Fehring, as well as the original piece from Mike Hough (“The weather’s the same, but the climate may be changing,” Forum, March 30). If you have already discarded those newspapers, you can go online to “kauaiworld.com” to see them.
Paragraph 1: I didn’t just “paint” Mr. Hough as “deceitful, sly, and immoral.” It is factual record that he was deceitful about his own involvement in a new Web site he touted, about his own ownership of VRs, and about the impartiality of attorney Chun. Most importantly, if it is not sly and immoral to abuse the proper use of agricultural and residential land, then I don’t know what is.
Paragraph 2: I agree that there are two sides to every story. Mr. Hough presented his side, and I presented mine. I think it is telling, however, that Mr. Fehring mentions his interest only in “issues that directly impact us.” Unfortunately, on this island, some people attend public meetings only when the subject matter impacts them personally, while other citizens attend regularly and care about the island and the public good on many issues, not just the ones that directly impact their own pocketbooks. If I have a vested interest, it is not for personal gain but for the cause of preserving as much as is left of the beauty and serene lifestyle of Kaua‘i, rather than turning it into a big cash register.
Paragraph 3: As for being a “farmer,” how many real farmers do we know on Kaua‘i who also have time to be Realtors? Real farming is a full-time occupation, seven days a week. We all do know people, however, who plant a few banana or avocado trees and call themselves farmers in order to do as they please with their agriculturally-zoned land.
Paragraph 3 (cont’d): Mr. Fehring knows very well that I did not refer to laws about “robbery and vandalism.” My specific reference was to laws about land use. Could he be demonstrating slyness here? Does the fact that he supplements his income from VRs justify their operation on agricultural land? This is a common mindset: “Because I make money from something to support my family or pay my taxes, what I’m doing is permissible.” Following his logic, I could become a drug dealer and justify it for the same reasons. However, I happen to believe that the end does not always justify the means.
Paragraph 4: All I can say here is that we can all be sure that Mr. Fehring did not go into this vacation rental business for the altruistic purpose of putting people to work. To use that as his excuse for continuing his business is inexcusable.
Paragraph 5: To his question about who will benefit from enforcing VDA zoning, I believe it is the Hawaiian island of Kaua‘i, its native people and its serene rural lifestyle that would undoubtedly benefit. I would venture to say that a large majority of the people who moved to Kaua‘i chose this particular island over the others for those very reasons. Throughout the world, special places like Kaua‘i have fallen like dominos from the invasion of large-scale luxury developments, four-to-six-lane highways, more and more commercial development, and the destruction of neighborhoods and ambiance. In Hawai‘i it happened first on O‘ahu, then on Maui, and now a few people on Kaua‘i are putting up a brave last-minute stand to prevent the same here. Ironically, once developers have spoiled places like O‘ahu and Maui, they begin looking for other nice places to spoil; and Kaua‘i has become the latest target.
Paragraph 6: I can only say that local residents have values too. They place great value on the sanctity of their neighborhoods, the comfort of knowing the surrounding families and the ability to have stable playmates for their children, who go to school together and grow up together. Needless to say, they are the ones who count when it comes to placing “great value on the ambiance and privacy” of their residential neighborhoods (which they do not refer to as their “accommodations”); and they look forward to occasional visits from friends and family (real guests, who do not pay) in their own homes, not in paid accommodations all around them.
Paragraph 7: Of course your vendors appreciate your money. But this final paragraph of your letter leaves the distinct impression that, without you, they would go out of business, and that anything is justified as long as people are making money from it. Saying it’s okay to do what you do because you spend most of the money you make here still does not justify what you do.
Finally, I join Mr. Fehring is wishing for common sense to prevail.
However, I do not want the VR and real estate lobby to prevail.