Letters for Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Mayor Carvalho selects site over

well-being of Isenberg residents • A change in

course             

Mayor Carvalho selects site over well-being of Isenberg residents

Is the site more important than the well-being of the Isenberg area residents? According to Kaua‘i Mayor Bernard Carvalho, the answer is “Yes.”

Selecting the Isenberg location for Kaua‘i’s adolescent alcohol and drug treatment center places a higher value on the location of the center, rather than the lives of the area’s residents.

Best practices suggest that successful juvenile drug treatment facilities should be located in isolated or rural areas away from populated, familiar surroundings which contribute to the drug addictive behavior.

For example, the Bobby Benson Center and Marimed facilities were originally located in rural O‘ahu areas until urban sprawl encroached upon their facilities. In fact, one of the key components to Marimed’s success rate in their combined sailing program is the use of isolation and programs which simultaneously challenges the individual to discover the self. In addition, Marimed closed its residential treatment program in urban Honolulu because of the negative impact upon the neighborhoods.

Although we have been assured that runaways from the treatment center are rare, occurrences of trespassing, theft, burglaries and robberies, impact the neighboring victims 100 percent.

Evidence of this is the recent escape of two juvenile sex offenders from the “secured” treatment center in Pearl City. The most troubling aspect of this incident is that photos of these runaways cannot be printed and circulated due to confidentiality laws protecting minors, even though they have been convicted of committing sex crimes. Now who protects the law abiding citizens?

We all agree an alcohol and drug treatment facility is needed on Kaua‘i to treat adolescents, including juvenile drug offenders. Siting this facility where the negative impact on any resident is least distressing should be a given.

Florence Shimokawa (co-signed by 26 other Isenberg area residents), Lihu‘e

A change in course             

Once again I feel obliged to comment on The Garden Island editorial about the Transient Accommodation Units issue.

True that “residents spoke loud and clear with their ballots” when they passed “a charter amendment limiting the average growth rate of transient accommodation units … as well as saying “Kaua‘i needs to stay Kaua‘i.”                      

However, this author is concerned that Kaua‘i’s government is not best suited to act as the champion of such a task; not with its repeated record of encouraging urbanization of our community with their penchant for favoring large commercial and developmental interest over the “mom and pop”, local resident citizens.                        

Example 1: TGI mentions, “There are some 9,200 TAU already operating on island;” a figure that includes hotel/resort/timeshare units as well as “domicile” type units.

How many small homeowners are included in those figures that have opened their homes to visitors on a commercial basis in order to retain ownership of their home? How about placing more focus on the large commercial vacation industry’s desire to expand their dollar profits that leave our island state? Embrace the small, year-round residents wishing to earn enough extra funds to keep them from having to sell their homes or maybe being forced to move to other destinations. Let’s make sure Kaua‘i’s dollars remain on-island year-round and support our local vendors!

Example 2: TGI mentions that “4,650 (TAUs) were approved prior to the charter amendment’s passage in 2008 but are not up and running yet.” Are the readers aware that in 2002 and 2006 the county agreed to swap 1,906 new TAUs for 138 acres of useless shoreline property adjacent to the Lihu‘e Airport runway, and in 2010 the county increased that “purse” to 2,272 TAUs? Using TGI’s own figures that represents 40 to 50 percent of an increase in TAUs for one developer alone for 138 acres of useless land. Does any official deny this happened? 

Example 3: In March, 2010, it was reported that Grove Farm is planning another “400 acres of former sugar lands” to be urbanized into office, retail, residential and industrial uses. There goes another 400 acres of agriculture lands into urban uses rather than farming. The Wailani development will be a “huge project” located in LIhu‘e, profiting who? Grove Farm. And it will also bring more traffic.

Can “Kaua‘i be Kaua‘i” once it is urbanized? If residents truly wish Kaua‘i to remain an agricultural community and not an urbanized “burg”, raise property taxes on all of these barren agricultural fields to their “highest and best usage” levels; if those levels are at commercial/industrial/retail levels, then so-be-it. 

The only way to return to lower levels of property taxation is to open the ag lands up to individuals who will farm them. Then ag land taxes plummet to very low rates.

The “highest and best use” formula is how the county assesses everyone else and their properties; why not large landowners? Do not allow the county to distract you from their real agenda: urbanization for the dollar along with self and special interest.

Change Kaua‘i’s course before it is too late! Aloha.

 

John Hoff, Lawa‘i

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